By Jack Rieger
Donald Trump — UNLV
Since Tony Sanchez was hired as head coach in December of 2014, UNLV has tried to convince fans they aren’t just a basketball school, but that they also have the potential to flaunt a competitive football team. Donald Trump has been on a similar mission — to convince voters he isn’t just a lavish casino owner, but also a legitimate presidential candidate. Both UNLV and Trump have flashed moments of promise. UNLV took the Fremont Cannon from its rivals on Oct. 3 and Trump has emerged as the GOP frontrunner in recent polls. But can you really imagine a world where Trump is the president of the United States and UNLV wins the Mountain West? UNLV is good at two things: basketball (although not lately) and reminding people how good its basketball team was in the ’90s. Trump is also good at two things: running casinos (although he’s filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy four times) and wearing hairpieces.
Ted Cruz — Nevada
While he doesn’t garner much national attention, Ted Cruz has tremendous local support in his represented state of Texas. Similarly, Nevada football is a local delicacy, but no one outside of the state knows it for anything besides Colin Kaepernick and that 2010 game against Boise State when the Bronco kicker completely collapsed under pressure. Cruz plays well to the Texas narrative; he supports gun rights, opposes immigration (although he’s Hispanic) and disputes gay marriage. Does he have an outsider’s chance of becoming president of the United States? Not really. And similarly, Nevada has a minimal chance of claiming the Mountain West as long as Boise State and San Diego State keep winning.
Hillary Clinton — Boise State
Since she announced her plans to run in April of this year, Hillary Clinton has remained the favorite to become the president of the United States in 2016. Bovada.lv, a gambling website, has Clinton at -110 to win the presidency. (In case you were wondering, Trump is next at +500.) Like Clinton, Boise State has been the unanimous favorite in the Mountain West since it joined the conference in 2010; it’s 36-5 in that span. Clinton had serious momentum in 2008 as well, but the Democratic Party was overtaken by a young senator from Illinois who went on to serve two terms as president. Boise State also had its title chances taken at the last moment by TCU in 2008 and Nevada in 2010. Furthermore, Boise State is infamous for playing on its home blue turf, the color of the Democratic Party.
Marco Rubio — San Diego State
In the last few weeks, Marco Rubio has emerged as a legitimate presidential candidate within the Republican Party after an impressive performance in the recent GOP debate. His moderate views are a breath of fresh air from the rest of the Republican Party, and he’s gaining traction as a presidential contender. Comparably, San Diego State has also emerged in the past few weeks as a threat to win the Mountain West Conference thanks to the outstanding play of its defense. The Aztecs have won five in a row and currently lead the West Division with an undefeated conference record. On Dec. 5, San Diego State and Boise State could very well play for the Mountain West Championship, and next November, Clinton and Rubio could be competing for the presidency.
Jack Rieger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @JackRieger.