Tag:Conference USA
Posted on: December 4, 2010 1:45 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2010 3:07 pm

ACC game breaks out at C-USA title game

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

You wouldn't expect a game featuring June Jones on one sideline and a UCF offense on the other that's scored 35 or more points six of the last seven weeks -- a game played to decide the Conference USA championship , the most defense-optional conference in the country -- to beocme a defensive slugfest.

But at halftime, that's exactly what the C-USA title game (held on the Knights' home field in Orlando) has become. UCF leads 10-0 on a Jeffrey Godfrey touchdown pass and a Nick Cattoi field goal to end the half, but the story of the game has been the Knight defense. They entered this game the conference's best D by nearly 50 yards a game allowed , and have so far held the Mustangs to just 7 first downs and fewer than 150 total yards, and dangerous QB Kyle Padron to a quiet 7-of-13 half.

The other story is how little football there's been; several long, clock-churning drives by the Knights (the touchdown came at the end of a 13-play march that ate nearly seven-and-a-half minutes of gametime) and a pair of long SMU drives that came up empty, the Knights got only four possessions in the half, the Mustangs only three .

Assuming the Mustangs can see more of the ball and Padron can get untracked, the game has a long way to go before being decided.

Update, 2 p.m. EST: Unfortunately for SMU, the UCF secondary -- which must have hit double-digits in deep passes batted away by game's end -- never did let Padron get in any kind of rhythm, as the Mustang QB finished a rocky 18-of-34 with two interceptions and several crushing coverage sacks taken. The final two of those came on SMU's last-gasp drive, down 17-7, which reached the UCF 25 but no further as the sacks ran the clock out.

The result is justice for UCF, which finished with the conference's best record both in league play (7-1) and overall (9-3). With their defense and the freshman star-in-the-making Godfrey playing far beyond his years, they'll be more than a match for whatever SEC team they face in the Liberty Bowl.
Posted on: December 2, 2010 4:18 pm

Mountain West mulls expansion options

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

BYU may have wanted out, Utah may have wanted out, TCU may have wanted out, but the continuing expansion drama surrounding the Mountain West Conference has proven that there's still plenty of schools that would be happy to be in. The Honolulu Star-Advertister reported yesterday that Hawaii officials were in Colorado this week, speaking with MWC commissioner Craig Thompson and ironing out the final details of what appears to be a done deal to bring the Warriors aboard as a football-only member. (UH's other sports will join the California-based Big West. )

But the MWC may not stop there. According to this AOL Fanhouse report , Utah State officials have also been making a face-to-face plea to Thompson and Co. this week, asking for a MWC invite and a lifeline out of the lame-duck WAC . The Aggies won't bring much to the table in terms of football pedigree, but at least they've taken steps forward in recent years under coach Gary Andersen (including beating BYU this season for the first time in 10 tries) and can claim a sterling men's basketball program and solid academics.

USU's interest gives the MWC several options when it comes to expansion. Running them down:

They could stand pat at 10 teams . There seems to be little downside to bringing Hawaii aboard, especially in football alone -- the travel costs of visiting the islands are easily offset by the NCAA provision allowing teams a 13th scheduled game if they travel to Hawaii -- so it seems unlikely the MWC will suddenly stiff-arm the Warriors and stay at 10 teams. But few other immediate options will do much to raise the league's football profile, and weaker members on the gridiron could put the league's dream of a BCS automatic bid in jeopardy.

They could expand to 12 teams and start a championship game . A title game could be an excellent carrot for the MWC to dangle when they start looking to finally get out of the less-than-lucrative current television contracts that drove BYU into football independence. Utah State might be the most obvious candidate, but Conference USA member SMU would bring the highly attractive Dallas media market back into the league after TCU's defection, and under June Jones the Mustangs have made major strides on the field as well. With C-USA's chances of ever snagging a BCS bid set at "nil," the Mustangs would likely jump at the chance. The same goes for Houston , which is an even more distant geographical fit but features an even-better established football program and a similarly-lucrative market.
Other potential WAC refugees like Idaho or New Mexico State would also be options, but probably only in the event the BCS bid was already off the table and SMU and Houston had turned the league down.

They could merge with C-USA. This seems like a terrible idea from the MWC's perspective, but nonetheless the Orlando Sentinel reported today that Thompson and C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky have had prliminary discussions about "a variety of potential collaboration options." But it's hard to see what, other than potentially a push for a joint TV contract, the C-USA can offer the MWC; the latter is the stronger conference top-to-bottom, has more brand recognition (compare the profiles of Boise State and even, say, Fresno State to C-USA powers like East Carolina and Southern Miss ), and already has the BCS bid process underway. If the C-USA is looking to create a full merger, it would seem to eliminate any chance of the league being powerful enough to wrangle a BCS bid; if all they want is an end-of-year title tilt, that's likely just one more obstacle in the way of a Boise or, well, Boise and a BCS at-large berth.

Butit's on the table, along with a lot of other possibilities for the MWC. Thompson has some very big decisions to make, decisions that will help shape the future of college football in the West for years to come.
Posted on: November 30, 2010 5:24 pm

Fittingly, Army accepts Armed Forces Bowl invite

Posted by Adam Jacobi

These are heady times for the Army football program, and hey, why not? The Black Knights are bowl-eligible for the first time since 1996, and second-year head coach Rich Ellerson has his players going into their annual tilt with Navy on as close to equal footing with the Midshipmen as Army's been since Navy's early-decade nadir.

It's fitting, then, that Army has accepted an invitation to the Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl (I mean, what are the odds, right?), which will be held December 30 in University Park, TX -- the home of Southern Methodist University. As the Dallas Morning News points out, SMU could very well join Army in that bowl if the Mustangs drop their Conference USA title matchup with Central Florida this week. If the Mustangs prevail, yes, it'll probably be UCF facing Army instead.

And no, the fact that Army's in this bowl isn't exactly an accident; while the Armed Forces Bowl's tie-ins are the Mountain West and C-USA, the automatic BCS bid that TCU will get means the Mountain West won't be able to fill all five of its bowl slots. For this exact reason, the Armed Forces Bowl had a side agreement with Army that if either conference couldn't fill its obligation, Army would take the spot. With TCU headed to a BCS bowl on account of its 12-0 record, the berth opened up, and here we are. 

All that aside, does anybody else wonder why Bell Helicopters is sponsoring this bowl? Obviously, it's great that Bell is doing so, but the helicopter industry is so specialized that increasing brand awareness among the general public doesn't seem like a very prudent way to go about advertising. But it's Bell's money and not mine, so it's little more than an academic question, but still: does Bell's business change at all after the bowl?

Posted on: November 24, 2010 12:01 pm

Marshall boots senior lineman from team

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Doc Holliday won't be Brandon Campbell's huckleberry, and Brandon Campbell will no longer be an offensive lineman for Marshall.  

Holliday announced that Campbell was no longer a member of the team at his press conference on Tuesday.  Only a few days before Campbell -- who has started nine games for the Herd this season -- was to make his final collegiate start on senior day against Tulane.

It seems that Campbell had a hard time dealing with a curfew imposed on the team last Thursday night, and it's not the first time he's done so, as he served a one-game suspension for the same reason earlier this year.

"It's disappointing when a guy lets you down like that," Holliday said Tuesday. "It's unfortunate, but every decision you make has a consequence. When you make bad decisions you got to live with the consequences and he's got to live with them.

"You invest so much. You work 365 days a year to go out and get 12 opportunities. These kids, if I ask them to be in at 10 o'clock at night on a Thursday night, which I think is one of the most important nights of the week to get the proper rest, you need to go out and be at competitive excellence when you play on Saturday, then they are going to be in at 10 o'clock.

"If you can't do that 12 nights out of the year then you are not committed enough to play for Marshall. That's the way it is going to be. It's not going to be any different next year and the following year and the following year. I'm not going to waver on that and I never will."

Now it seems a little cold that Holliday would make such a decision only a few days before a player's final game, but I don't blame him at all. Campbell put himself in the situation by repeatedly putting himself in front of the team, and a head coach can't tolerate that from any of his players lest it becomes a habit throughout the roster.

Redshirt freshman Corey Tenney has taken Campbell's place on the depth chart.
Posted on: November 16, 2010 1:56 pm

Two arrests in Southern Miss shooting case

Posted by Tom Fornelli

So far we haven't heard much good news following the shooting of three Southern Miss football players over the weekend.  While all three have been upgraded to fair condition, we've also found out that Martez Wilson is paralyzed from the waist down and that Tim Green cannot speak due to their wounds.

Still, there is some good news today, as the Hattiesburg police have made two arrests in connection to the shooting.
Police have arrested two people in the shootings of three University of Southern Mississippi football players and are looking for a third.

Hattiesburg Police Sgt. Allen Murray said at a news conference Tuesday that Patricia Loftin Brown and Cleothus Wilkerson, both of Bassfield, were arrested Monday night.

Murray says each has been charged with three counts of accessory after the fact of aggravated assault in the shooting of Martez Smith, Tim Green and Deddrick Jones.
The police have also issued an arrest warrant for Travis Brown of Prentiss, Mississippi on three counts of aggravated assault, which would mean he's the shooter.

All three players are still listed in fair condition at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg.
Posted on: November 16, 2010 1:08 am
Edited on: November 16, 2010 1:08 am

Larry Fedora: Tim Green cannot speak

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The ramifications of the shooting involving three Southern Miss football players just keep getting worse.  Earlier it was reported that linebacker Martez Smith was paralyzed from the waist down thanks to his injuries.  While the school is yet to confirm Smith's paralysis, head coach Larry Fedora refused to comment on the injury on Monday night as well.

Unfortunately, Fedora did shed some light on the current condition of another one of his players, Tim Green.   According to Fedora, Green cannot speak and has been writing notes to express himself.  Fedora also went on to say that all night clubs are off-limits to his players, and that grief counselors are now available.  Fedora also went on to say that there are no plans to add a curfew on Saturday nights after games.

"We constantly talk about making good decisions with our football team," Fedora told ESPN.com . "These are 18-, 19-, 20-year-old kids. Unless you are that age you probably do not think the same way they do. I know I don't.

"Making decisions is part of the growing process and coming from a young man to a full-grown man. You have to make decisions on your own and understand that there are consequences to every decision you make. We talk about that all the time.  Kids are going to make mistakes and they are going to pay the consequences for those mistakes and they move on and learn from them and grow. That is how they become a full-grown man."

No arrests in the shooting have been made, and Fedora said that the police have not given him any new information on the investigation or what led to the fight.

For now, all anyone can do is hope that the injuries to both Smith and Green are temporary, and that both will be fully healthy when it's all over.

Posted on: November 15, 2010 2:16 pm

Southern Miss player may be paralyzed

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Chip Patterson reported about the three Southern Miss players who were shot outside a nightclub early Sunday morning yesterday, and now that we're getting more updates on the shooting, there's good news and bad news.  The good news is that Martez Smith, Tim Green and Deddrick Jones are now all listed in fair condition.  The bad news is that it appears that Martez Smith may be paralyzed from the waist down because of the shooting.

According to a report from WAPT.com, Smith's grandfather, James Smith, said his grandson told him that he can't move his legs.

"My son called me and told me he couldn't move his legs," said James Smith, fighting off tears in his eyes.

"Young man, old man like me, I could see, but a young man? That's tough."

Obviously, this is terrible news for Smith, his family, and Southern Mississippi.  Smith hasn't played since suffering an injury on October 9th, and the school is yet to confirm the report of his paralysis.

Police are still investigating the shooting, and no arrests have been made.

Hat tip: CFT
Posted on: November 5, 2010 5:58 pm

Below the Radar: three other games to watch

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Every week there's plenty of interesting matchups -- no, really -- that don't feature ranked teams and don't make anyone's "must-watch" list other than the team's fans. Here's three of them you should keep an eye on regardless (all times Eastern)

UCF (6-2, 4-0) at Houston (5-3, 4-1), 8 p.m. Friday: It's less than three hours away from kickoff, but if you've got plans, change 'em: it's not every week you get a meeting between the leaders of each of Conference USA 's divisions (UCF in the East, Houston in the West). The schedule is less than kind to the Golden Knights, who already had what looked like a season-defining matchup in last week's 49-35 win over previous C-USA favorite East Carolina and now have the short week to prepare for their trip to Houston. But if they can get the same mix of Ronnie Weaver 's powerful rushing and new starting quarterback Jeff Godfrey 's efficient passing that powered them to 424 total yards last week, they'll be OK. For Houston, this is another chance to prove the three-losses-out-of-four skid following Case Keenum 's season-ending injury is truly behind them, and to put some distance between them and co-division leaders SMU .

Air Force (5-4, 3-3) at Army (5-3, n/a), 12 p.m.: It's been eight years since someone other than Navy took home the Commander in Chief's Trophy, but that could change tomorrow as a Falcons win would send the trophy back to Colorado Springs for the first time since 2002. That's not to say the stakes won't be equally high for Army; a win would make them bowl-eligible for the first time since 1996 and set up a winner-take-all showdown with the Midshipmen for the CIC Trophy. The Black Knights will be at home, but that may not be a help, since they've already dropped games to Hawaii and Temple at Michie Stadium this year and the Falcons have won six straight in West Point. With both teams well-versed in defending the other's option attack, the final result could come down to which team executes in their rare attempts to put the ball in the air.

Texas (4-4, 2-3) at Kansas State (5-3, 2-3), 8 p.m.: Admit it: it's fascinating to see how low the Longhorns can sink. And it remains possible they could sink all the way out of the postseason, with the 'Horns sitting at 4-4 and three potential losses still on the schedule in Oklahoma State , Texas A&M , and this week's date in Manhattan. If they can't contain Wildcat running back Daniel Thomas or get their 79th-ranked rushing attack going, Texas will slip below .500 for the first time in Mack Brown 's tenure in a long, long time. But there's a lot on the line for the Wildcats, too, who would secure themselves a bowl bid for the first time in Bill Snyder 's second stint at the KSU helm.
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