Blake Anderson has witnessed coaching turnover before.

With 29 years of coaching experience in college football, the last three spent as the head coach at Utah State, Anderson has seen coaches come and go time and again. It is the nature of the sport.

But the turnover among head coaches in the Mountain West Conference this offseason was something Anderson hadn’t seen before.

“It is a great league. It is getting stronger. And you add Oregon State and Washington State to the mix. Man, whoever wins this league will have earned their keep, I promise you.” — Utah State coach Blake Anderson

At least not that he could recall.

“I would say that this league and the league I came from (the Sun Belt Conference), there always seemed to be some staff transitions because you had really good quality coaches and a lot of those guys were being elevated and taking Power Five jobs,” Anderson said. “Handful of guys would go on and move (any given offseason). This is probably the most (I’ve ever seen). You’ve got guys retiring and those that were fired. I don’t know if I’ve seen that many guys let go at one time, at any given time.”

All told, six MW programs have new head coaches, following three firings (Andy Avalos at Boise State, Ken Wilson at Nevada and Danny Gonzalez at New Mexico), two retirements (Brady Hoke at San Diego State and Craig Bohl at Wyoming) and one upward move (Brent Brennan to Arizona from San Jose State).

That turnover has made Anderson the second-longest tenured head coach in the MW, after finishing just his third year in Logan.

Incoming replacements are Spencer Danielson (Boise State), Bronco Mendenhall (New Mexico), Sean Lewis (San Diego State), Jeff Choate (Nevada), Jay Sawvel (Wyoming) and Ken Niumatalolo (San Jose State).

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Many of those hires were lauded, with Anderson specifically singling out Lewis at SDSU as one to watch, along with Niumatalolo at SJSU.

Niumatalolo’s hire was praised by CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd, with the longtime sports pundit noting, “A program that is historically a stepping-stone job landed a keeper. Coach Ken spent 21 years at Navy taking the Midshipmen to unprecedented heights. He was responsible for nine of the record 14 straight wins against Army. There were 10 winning seasons and Navy’s first win over a ranked team in 23 years. Nuimatalolo was responsible for Navy breaking Notre Dame’s death grip on the rivalry. Basically, he more than kept Navy — a service academy — in the national conversation during a time of upheaval.

“By taking SJSU, Nuimatalolo, 58, proved he has plenty left in the coaching tank,” Dodd continued. “The Spartans could compete annually for the Mountain West if Nuimatalolo successfully switches from the triple option at Navy to a spread-based attack.”

Mendenhall’s hire by the Lobos, meanwhile, was generally lauded as an excellent move, with USA Today’s Paul Myerberg writing, “He’s a winner, pure and simple. Mendenhall has been very successful at two stops, Brigham Young and Virginia, reaching bowl eligibility in every non-COVID-19 year of his coaching career outside of his debut season with the Cavaliers.

“Mendenhall is also a former New Mexico assistant under Rocky Long and brings deep familiarity with the program and the broader region. As one of the surest bets in coaching and a terrific ambassador for the program and athletics department, he’s an absolute coup for the Lobos.”

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In Anderson’s eyes, both of those hires, along with the rest, have the potential to make the MW even more difficult than it has been in recent years. And it is a league he has argued is the best among the Group of Five.

“It is going to change the look of the league,” he said. “I think the variety of what you see each week is already a challenge in this particular league. Our defense is going to see triple option one week, fast paced spread the next and power football the next, and then you add what they are doing at UNLV and their version of the triple option, it is a very very difficult league to prepare for and now I think you are looking at taking that a step further. ... It is only going to get more and more difficult.”

With the College Football Playoff expanding to 12 teams next season, and with the top ranked Group of Five champion guaranteed a berth, an improved MW could lead to a conference champion capable of making real noise in the postseason.

“It is a great league,” Anderson said. “It is getting stronger. And you add Oregon State and Washington State to the mix. Man, whoever wins this league will have earned their keep, I promise you.”

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall watches as BYU faces Air Force at Lavell Edwards Stadium in Provo Saturday, Oct. 29, 2005. The former BYU and Virginia coach has returned to the West as the head coach of the New Mexico Lobos. | Jason Olson, Deseret News