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From the Shotgun

Gary Crowton, the offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, is the leading candidate to replace LaVell Edwards as the new BYU coach, but he doesn't want to talk about it right now. Crowton, a longtime friend and former Orem High teammate of Cougar athletic director Val Hale, told the Chicago Tribune, "If anybody called me (from BYU), I wouldn't talk to them because that's not fair to me and my preparation and it's not fair to the job I'm at right now."

That doesn't mean, however, that Crowton won't take the Cougar post. When the season's done, expect him to be at the top of Hale's phone list.

Another candidate on BYU's short list, Philadelphia Eagles head coach and former Cougar player and assistant Andy Reid, has told the Philadelphia Daily News that he's not interested in returning to Provo right now. "I was asked to be interviewed," Reid said, "and I said 'No thanks.' "

One candidate who has expressed interest in the BYU job is Alabama offensive coach Charlie Stubbs. His stock could rise if the Crimson Tide's offense is as good as advertised. 'Bama, ranked No. 3 in the nation, opens the season Saturday at UCLA.

Colorado State will face rival Colorado in a "home" game this weekend. The game actually will be played in Denver's Mile High Stadium, where the Buffaloes likely will have a majority of the fans. Mile High was good to the MWC's Rams last year, however. They ripped their more nationally respected in-state foes, 41-14.

Yet oddsmakers seem to think last year's result was a fluke. Colorado enters Saturday's game as a 4 1/2-point favorite. One thing that won't happen this year is that the Buffs won't take a win for granted.

"We embarrassed ourselves," said Colorado coach Gary Barnett of last year's game. "That's not to take anything away from CSU. But it was our play that was embarrassing. Any time you have a chance to redo that, it certainly has your attention."

Countered CSU coach Sonny Lubick: "From all the reports out there, it's going to be a revenge year for them. I hear they've got two teams circled that they must win: that's us and Nebraska. So that puts us in pretty good company."

Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson has made it clear that he wants teams in his league to upgrade their nonconference schedules. A quick look at this week's games shows that that message has been acted upon. Wyoming faces Auburn and San Diego State hosts Arizona State Thursday night. BYU will play its second straight ACC team on Saturday when it takes on Virginia, while Utah hosts Arizona and Colorado State plays Colorado.

The league will get some solid national exposure, too. Four MWC games will be broadcast nationally on either ESPN or ESPN2. A fifth — BYU at Virginia — will be televised on a regional basis by ABC.

Playing solid competition is one thing. Beating solid competition is another. Of the games pitting MWC teams against major conference opponents, only Utah is favored to win. An 0-5 record is not out of the question by any means.

On the flip side, two or more wins in those five games can be considered a successful week for the fledgling league.

No MWC team is ranked in either major poll. But the Utes are the 22nd best team in the nation this week, according to the CBS Sportsline Power Poll, which ranks all 115 Division I-A schools. After Utah, however, there is a major dropoff for the MWC. BYU is second in the league at No. 39, followed by Colorado State (47), UNLV (61), Air Force (65), Wyoming (74), San Diego State (76) and New Mexico (93).