Raising Hell – From the desk of Nathan Hellman

When the news came in that Portland State was selected second in the Big Sky Conference’s preseason football poll, the first thing I wanted to do was call head coach Jerry Glanville and personally thank him.

When the news came in that Portland State was selected second in the Big Sky Conference’s preseason football poll, the first thing I wanted to do was call head coach Jerry Glanville and personally thank him.

We should all show our appreciation to Glanville for swaying voters into picking Portland State as the Big Sky’s second-best squad in both the coaches’ and media polls. And he did this, just by calling Portland State home. For that, he deserves our most sincere thanks.

Glanville should expect to receive fruit baskets, flower arrangements, chocolate and plenty of greeting cards from gracious Viking fans over the next few days. Not because he’s the most charming fellow–or even because he’s a former NFL coach that took a job at a program that he admits isn’t on the map yet.

No, the Viking faithful should express their gratitude because in a matter of months, Glanville has single-handedly brought respectability to PSU football.

The buzz that surrounded Glanville’s hire lingered throughout the city for a good five weeks, with his smile appearing on newspapers and voice booming over the airwaves of Portland radio stations. After this media frenzy, Portland was aware of his arrival. But the Vikings’ high preseason ranking proves that the rest of the Big Sky Conference is well aware of this old-school ball coach’s presence at PSU.

Glanville is at Portland State, which automatically means the Vikings should be stellar, right? Apparently, the media members and coaches that partook in the preseason poll think so, despite a couple of glaring red flags.

The most obvious flag is that the Vikings are operating under a new regime this year. Former head coach Tim Walsh is gone and he took his playbook with him. It’s surprising the media and coaches placed so much stock in a team that will be running a new offense and defense, as Glanville inserts his patented 3-4 defense and Mouse Davis’ run-and-shoot offensive attack. You never know how a team will react to such substantial scheme changes.

The Vikings were selected second in both polls, behind Montana who has been picked first for the seventh time in eight seasons, even though only 10 starters from last year’s squad are returning. That means Portland State, who finished in an even tie with Montana State for second place in the Big Sky last season, will have less than half of its combined offensive and defensive starters when fall rolls around.

One of the most important starters the Vikings will miss this year is former starting quarterback Sawyer Smith. Smith’s meager numbers of 14 touchdowns, eight interceptions and 165 yards per game in 2006 aren’t going to get him a Hall of Fame nomination anytime soon, but the Vikings have yet to declare his replacement.

Quarterbacks Brian White and Tygue Howland battled for Smith’s spot throughout spring practice, but Glanville and Davis have yet to announce the winner. That alone is a bit disconcerting, and another reason I believe Glanville’s hire greatly influenced PSU’s ranking.

Also, the third and fourth place teams, Montana State and Northern Arizona, seem to have an edge on the Vikings. Unlike Portland State, the Bobcats return starting quarterback Jack Rolovich and the Lumberjacks return more starters than the Viks–14 over PSU’s 10.

Looking at the specifics, maybe these conference foes should have earned the nod over the Vikings.

But, then again, Jerry Glanville is in the South Park Blocks, and that makes all the difference.

Make sure to send your gifts and cards to coach Glanville for this season’s first victory, because it was a one-man show this time around.

Big Sky Conference Preseason Polls

CoachesRank, Team, Points

1. Montana (8), 642. Portland State, 553. Montana State (1), 474. Northern Arizona, 425. Eastern Washington, 416. Weber State, 237. Sacramento State, 228. Idaho State, 219. Northern Colorado, 8

MediaRank, Team, Points

1. Montana (33), 2972. Portland State, 2373. Northern Arizona, 1924. Montana State, 1905. Eastern Washington, 1666. Weber State, 1437. Sacramento State, 898. Idaho State, 869. Northern Colorado, 43