Hawai'i, Fresno State and Nevada officially become the newest members of the Mountain West on Sunday, but introductions are largely inessential. The Warriors (football only), Bulldogs and Wolf Pack are not only familiar with the MW landscape, they are, in many instances, tethered by well-rooted rivalries and long-standing coaching connections.
First-year Fresno State football coach Tim DeRuyter, an Air Force graduate, not only played for the Falcons but spent a total of seven years at the Academy during two separate stints as a position coach and defensive coordinator.
New Hawai'i football coach Norm Chow spent 27 seasons as an assistant at BYU before the former MW member opted to join the independent ranks last season.
Nevada's Chris Ault, the only active FBS coach in the College Football Hall of Fame, has faced every team represented in the 2011-12 configuration of the MW at least three times since joining the Wolf Pack staff in 1976.
"Today we officially welcome Fresno State, Hawai'i and Nevada as members, ushering in a new era for the Mountain West," said Commissioner Craig Thompson. "The addition of these fine institutions helps position the Conference for a bright future, and we look forward to the contributions that Bulldog, Warrior and Wolf Pack student-athletes, coaches, fans and administrators will make to the success of the Mountain West."
Here's a look at each of the three institutions and a sampling of their athletic successes:
Football: The Bulldogs have failed to garner a bowl bid only twice since 2000. Fresno State went to four straight bowl games from 2007-10, with two of the contests coming against MW members Colorado State and Wyoming. Prior to DeRuyter's hire, the Bulldogs' two previous coaches --- Jim Sweeney and Pat Hill --- posted a combined winning percentage of .607 and won three conference titles.
"We're really excited about our first year in the Mountain West," said DeRuyter, a linebacker at Air Force from 1982-84. "Having some personal history in this conference, I know about the excellent programs and the excellent coaches in this league. We know this is going to be a tremendous challenge, but we're excited about it and we're looking forward to it."
Men's Basketball: The Bulldogs have won two conference titles, participated in one NCAA Tournament and two National Invitational Tournaments since 2000. Many believe second-year coach Rodney Terry has put together one of the program's top recruiting classes in years, a group led by 7-foot, 265-pound incoming freshman center Robert Upshaw, ranked No. 55 nationally in the 2012 ESPNU Top 100.
Women's Basketball: Fresno State is coming off a 2011-12 season in which it won a conference title, earned its fifth straight NCAA Tournament bid and won 28 games for the first time in program history. The Bulldogs started four underclassmen last season, including guard Ki-Ki Moore, the WAC Player of the Year.
Baseball: Fresno State, the 2008 national champion, won its seventh straight WAC title this past year while qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in the past seven seasons.
Softball: The Bulldogs have participated in 30 of the last 31 NCAA Tournaments and won the 1998 national title. The Bulldogs have played in more NCAA Championships than any other Division I program and rank third all-time in tournament victories with 89.
Men's Tennis: The Bulldogs enter the Mountain West having won two consecutive league titles while earning three straight NCAA Tournament bids.
Football: Hawai'i became just the third non-automatic-qualifying conference team to play in a BCS bowl in 2008 when it faced Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. The Warriors were the only FBS team in the nation that year to finish the regular season undefeated. Hawai'i has appeared in a bowl game seven times since 2002, posting six winning seasons and four campaigns with double-digit victories.
"I think (the transition to the MW) is going to be extremely tough and that is what I am trying to impress upon our players, that this is a step up," Chow told the Maui News. "The schedule is extremely challenging, the non-conference games are as tough as the conference games, but if you are in this profession, you get in this profession, you enjoy challenges, and you enjoy the week-by-week work that goes with those challenges, so we are all very excited about it."
Football: The Wolf Pack, who finished the 2010 season ranked No. 11 in the nation, have appeared in seven consecutive bowl games. The program's history includes 14 conference titles and since 2005, Nevada has had one losing season and six campaigns of seven or more wins.
"We're excited to be jumping into the Mountain West and to be part of such an elite group," said football head coach Chris Ault. Ault enters his 28th season with a win percentage of 68.5 percent (226-103-1).
Men's Basketball: The Wolf Pack won the WAC regular-season championship with a mark of 13-1 last season en route to making their fifth appearance in the National Invitation Tournament. Nevada has posted eight 20-win seasons since 2003-04, while earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament four times.
Women's Basketball: Nevada has won at least 17 games five of the last seven seasons, twice advancing to the National Invitation Tournament.
Baseball: The Wolf Pack, who won a share of the regular-season conference title in 2012, have won 30 or more games six times since 2000, while winning two league titles and making two NCAA postseason appearances.