Yes the conference that adds teams in random ways, loses and regains a school with a junkyard for a stadium and just seems to keep losing ground in the Group of Five pecking order. This isn’t your dad’s Conference USA. No, that one had Louisville and Cincinnati.
So according to many experts, Conference USA begins and ends with Marshall. No one other than Marshall has a shot at doing anything again this year, according to many. That shows me two things. One, Marshall may be a bit overrated considering they lost Rakeem Cato (who now starts for the Montreal Alouettes). And two, what does that say about the rest of this hodge-podge of a conference? I mean they aren’t even shown on ESPN and ESPN shows damn near every conference. Heck, they air at least half-a-dozen Sun Belt games during the year on ESPNU. Give it a few years and Conference USA might drop down to the bottom of the pecking order (as long as the Sun Belt gets their shit together).
Anyway, Nostradamus time followed by the clearance aisle:
- Yes that’s right. Marshall will go 11-1 and not even go to the conference championship. They have their Marshall-like schedule again this year but WKU will be the speed bump they can’t get over…again. This time, though it will cost the Herd a shot at the C-USA Championship and the Group of Five New Year’s Six spot. That’s all because…
- WKU has Brandon Doughty, this year’s leader of this year’s offensive juggernaut. If this team doesn’t score at least 40 a game I would be shocked. Also, if the Hilltoppers somehow go undefeated through the regular season, expect Doughty to get some dark horse Heisman looks.
- Oh yeah, there’s a west division! LaTech will win it again this year I believe as there really isn’t any other team in the division that doesn’t reek of mediocrity. Then again, isn’t that what Conference USA is all about?
- Charlotte debuts in the conference this year. I am positive they won’t have the entrance that Georgia Southern and Appalachian State had last year in the Sun Belt. Hell, I don’t even think they will match what Old Dominion and UTSA have done in recent years. That being said, I can see this team moving up the ranks pretty quickly in the next couple of years since all these new programs (except Georgia State) seem to understand the proper way to build a program quickly. Plus, let’s be honest: to have the Charlotte market in Conference USA is huge.
- That brings us to the absolutely shit-tastic TV contracts C-USA has. CBS Sports Network and the American Sports Network. How shitty is that? No wonder people gloss over this conference. More people watch the MAC and the Sun Belt. Either CBSSN or ASN has to get bigger faster or C-USA has to put at least a few games on ESPN (other than the conference championship). Otherwise they are no better than the Colonial conference in the FCS (and just as visible). To be honest, we don’t get CBS Sports Network on Bell anymore (I assume Rogers still has it), but ASN does a decent job at this point of producing games. There’s always room for improvement but it’s not like they will be CBS or ESPN overnight.
- One of the worst two-year periods in recent FBS memory could be just that; a memory. For Southern Miss they are slowly moving back towards bowl eligibility. For a program that used to be an automatic for bowl games then sunk to depths that only SMU could understand, this is a huge deal. I think they fall a bit short this season but they are oh-so-close now.
- Hey guess who will be back next year? Yes, UAB and their crumbling shithole of a stadium. This year they will be Conference USA’s version of Poochie. This also means that, unless some crazy realignment happens, the conference will be go to two seven-team divisions next season. Yay for equality (don’t tell the MAC).
So I have WKU “upsetting” Marshall and then outlasting Louisiana Tech in the conference championship. What does this give WKU? A trip to lovely St. Petersburg and another dump of a stadium, the Trop. How lovely.
Alright, all done the Group of Five conferences (along with the Independents…all three of them). I will be off the grid for a few days but should get back to the swing of things early next week with the Power Five conferences. You know, the important ones (no offense to the other conferences but let’s be realistic here). Also coming up will be my terrible Heisman ballot and the Coaches Hot Seat edition, sponsored by Bo Pelini.