The Dig:  3.26.10

The NCAA Championship is winding down, spring is upon us, and teams across the C-USA landscape are searching for new basketball coaches.  Let's take a look around!

UTEP MINERS

Curry or Meger?  Miner Quarterback Trevor Vittatoe's suspension has left UTEP with limited signal callers as spring gets under way.

That means UTEP begins today's spring practice with one scholarship quarterback, sophomore Tim Curry, one second-year freshman, walk-on Carson Meger, and nothing else. Coach Mike Price put it another way: "We've got a left-handed quarterback (Meger) and a right-handed quarterback. We've got Carson and we've got Tim. We've got Curry and we've got Meger."

The Land of Second Chances?   Conference USA:  Where coaches go to salvage their careers.

If they both end up in Conference USA, then it would truly be the landing ground for coaches in search of a second or third chance. Southern Miss' Larry Eustachy, one of Floyd's good friends, and SMU's Matt Doherty are two of the latest examples. East Carolina just hired Auburn's fired Jeff Lebo. Rice coach Ben Braun was fired at Cal.

Outside the Box:  Northern Iowa's Ben Jacobsen is a rising star on the coaching circuit.  Sound familiar?  Look at the salary package the NIU AD put together to keep his coach.  If NIU can pay $450,000 with guaranteed raises of $25k each year, why can't UTEP?

The agreement will increase Jacobson's annual salary to $450,000 starting next season, with annual raises of $25,000 throughout the length of a deal that runs through 2020.

Countdown:  UTEP's athletic site is counting down the 20 greatest football games of the decade.

The decade produced the school's all-time leading passer (Jordan Palmer) and receiver (Johnnie Lee Higgins Jr.), and the second-leading rusher (Howard Jackson). It produced UTEP's first-ever placement in the top-25 polls and BCS standings. It produced a victory over a top-12 opponent (Houston in 2009) for the first time since 1985. It produced a record-setting attendance year in the Sun Bowl (2005).

Busy Lines: Bob Stull is working the phones across the country to find UTEP's next coach.

For his part, Stull said, "Usually, the process is relatively quick. This day and age, the instant Tony was announced at Auburn we got e-mails, faxes, phone calls. I've already talked with (Kentucky coach) John Calipari and (Louisville coach) Rick Pitino on behalf of candidates. We will get thousands of calls, and our job is to narrow it down to who we want."

The Conference USA Coaching Wheel

Moving on Up?  Memphis' Josh Pastner might be in the mix for the Iowa coaching job.  I think Memphis is a better job.

According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Memphis Tigers' coach Josh Pastner is one of a large group of potential candidates for the Iowa job.

Hang Time:  Reggie Theus, this Reggie Theus, is becoming a main candidate for the vacant job at UCF.

Meanwhile, Theus went to great lengths to make sure I understood UCF was a great job and he would love to be back coaching college basketball. He wanted to make sure his brief comments were interpreted in a positive way and not in aloof way.

Billy Clyde:  At least one Houston area newspaper doesn't want the Cougars to hire Billy Gillispie.

If Houston really is committed to return to the days of Phi Slamma Jamma, it must find a coach willing to go out, make nice with donors and fundraise for a new arena and practice facility. That’s the way to get more dollars into the program and attract new recruits. Remember, Gillispie didn’t get fired for poor performance at Kentucky but for "incompatibility" with the university and its goals. He angered several big-time donors with his smugness, aloofness and unwillingness to dedicate time to them. The new Houston coach cannot hide behind a desk or spend hours in the film room. That’s for assistants.

Around the League:

Weak Wave:  There are rumblings in New Orleans that Tulane isn't really committed to achieving any type of football success.

I was wondering how the Tulane administration expects their head coach to compete and somehow succeed with higher academic standards in a league where junior college players and transfers from military schools are everywhere?

Herd at Work:  Marshall's Donnie Jones is losing a lot of talentChris Lutz and Tyler Wilkerson are gone.  Hassan Whiteside?  We'll know soon.

So, the Herd coaching staff hit the recruiting trail in attempt to shore up his team's deficiencies and compensate for the losses of Tyler Wilkerson, Chris Lutz and Darryl Merthie to graduation.

Spring in Swing:  UAB is in the middle of spring practice and the Birmingam News is trying to figure out how the Blazers are going to replace all-everything Joe Webb.

OK, replacing Webb is the most compelling story. Then again, you can’t easily replace someone who was the first quarterback in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 yards and throw for 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.

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