HOUSTON - DECEMBER 03: Head coach Larry Fedora of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles holds up the Conference USA trophy with Ryan Balentine #80 and Tim Green #43 after defeating the Houston Cougars 49-28 at Robertson Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
It's officially bowl season. All regular season college football games have been completed, and all bowl eligible teams know where they are heading. Unfortunately for C-USA and all its schools, Houston's loss in the conference championship completely changed up the bowl picture, and cost the conference a nice chunk of change. Well, it is what it is. With that said, here is what's going on around Miner Nation, Conference USA, and the rest of the country.
AROUND MINER NATION
Lady Miners Improve to 7-0 With 81-52 Victory Over Lamar
The UTEP women's basketball team is off to a very impressive 7-0 start to the 2011-12 basketball season. They are averaging nearly 75 points a game, while giving up only 52. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this Miner team is that they are winning as a team. While they have individual players who can score the basketball, the most recent win was clearly an example of a true team effort. Melissa Mendes led the way for the Miners with 10 points, but she was the only one to score in double figures. Two Miners had 9 points, four had 8, and another chipped in with 7. Of the 15 Miners that saw action on Thursday, only two failed to score. With the win, the Lady Miners have now matched ('96-97) the best start in program history. Up next is a trip to Albuquerque to take on the Lobos. Good luck to the Lady Miners in that game, and for the rest of the season.
The El Paso Times recently had a Q&A session with UTEP football coach Mike Price. The segment included questions about the 2011 team, attendance in the Sun Bowl, the letdown against UCF, and Price's coaching future. Here's a quick piece:
Q: After such a good start in your first two seasons, the team hasn't had a winning record since. Does that take a toll and how much longer will you coach?
A: We certainly had the opportunities, haven't we? We had it going and we dropped the ball after the first three seasons. We came close, we were very competitive.
Our goals have not changed one bit. We are not satisfied with 5-7, we want to win a championship. And the enthusiasm and energy to reach that has re mained the same.
As long as I feel the way I do right now about the profession -- and I have to re-evaluate every year -- there's no doubt I wanted to come back this year.
I haven't finished what I came here to do. We came close a few years, but we haven't finished it.
I think it's clear what Mike Price's intentions are with his UTEP football program. Unfortunately for everyone invested in the program, intentions don't necessarily translate into success. Hopefully for the sake of UTEP football, that will change in years to come.
UTEP Senior LB Jeremy Springer was recently named to the Conference USA All-Academic team for the second time in his career. He was also honored back in 2009. Springer led the defense this year with 70 tackles, including 5 for loss, and also recorded his first career interception. Congratulations to Jeremy.
2011 C-USA Football All-Academic Team
NAME - SCHOOL - YEAR - GPA - MAJOR
Matt Milner - East Carolina - Soph.-RS - 4.00 - Physics
Case Keenum - Houston - Senior - 3.80 - Sports Administration, Masters
Tyson Gale - Marshall - Senior - 3.72 - Exercise Physiology
Matt Nordstrom - Rice - Senior - 3.51 - Civil Engineering
Scott Solomon - Rice - Senior - 3.33 - Political Science
Kelvin Beachum - SMU - Senior - 3.66 - Liberal Studies, Masters
Creighton Nelms - Southern Miss - Senior - 3.42 - Mathematics
Ryan Griffin - Tulane - Junior - 3.29 - Management
Alan Dock - Tulsa - Senior - 3.63 - Business, Masters
G.J. Kinne - Tulsa - Senior - 3.27 - Exercise & Sports Science
Josh Linam - UCF - Senior - 3.36 - Sports & Fitness
Jeremy Springer - UTEP - Senior - 3.53 - Instructional Specialist/Education, Masters
AROUND CONFERENCE USA
The Conference USA bowl draw didn't come out exactly how many had hoped and expected, but there are still some intriguing matchups for the conference. Highlights of C-USA's bowl schedule include: #19 Houston Cougars (12-1, 8-0 C-USA) vs. #22 Penn St. Nittany Lions (9-3, 6-2 Big Ten) in the Ticket City Bowl, and SMU (7-5, 5-3 C-USA) vs. Pitt (6-6, 4-3 Big East) in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
Here' the entire bowl lineup:
Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl
December 20th, 2011 8:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Florida International Golden Panthers (8-4, 5-3 Sun Belt) vs. Marshall Thundering Herd (6-6, 5-3 C-USA)
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
December 24th, 2011 8:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)Nevada Wolf Pack (7-5, 5-2 WAC) vs. Southern Miss Golden Eagles (11-2, 6-2 C-USA)
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
December 30th, 2011 12:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)
BYU Cougars (9-3 Independent) vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (8-4, 7-1 C-USA)
Ticket City Bowl
January 2nd, 2012 12:00 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Houston Cougars (12-1, 8-0 C-USA) vs. Penn St. Nittany Lions (9-3, 6-2 Big Ten)
BBVA Compass Bowl
January 7th, 2012 1:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)
SMU Mustangs (7-5, 5-3 C-USA) vs. Pitt Panthers (6-6, 4-3 Big East)
In case you weren't already asking after seeing that bowl lineup, Southern Miss is going to the Hawaii Bowl?? That will be the case with one of the best Golden Eagle teams Southern Miss have ever seen. After dropping #6 Houston on their home field for the C-USA championship, many assumed Southern Miss would be heading for Memphis and the Autozone Liberty Bowl.
Not so fast, the Liberty bowl decided on the Big East Co-Champ Cincinnati (9-3, 5-2) and the SEC's Vanderbilt Commodores (6-6, 2-6) for their bowl. To an extent, I can understand the bowl wanting to grab an AQ conference's champ, but Vanderbilt? I guess they were obligated to take an SEC team, or much like the Big East in basketball" the 10th place team in that conference is better than anyone else's champ".
In any case, this boils down to Southern Miss making a terrible decision. As Conference USA champs, the conference gave the Golden Eagles the opportunity to pick any bowl with a tie-in to Conference USA. Coach Fedora thought it'd be a good idea to reward his team by "taking them to a special place". I mean sure it's great going to Hawaii, but wouldn't you much rather showcase your talent vs. the likes of Penn St.?? I guess not.
Everyone knows about the Memphis Tigers being ranked #20 in the nation, but a second C-USA team, Tulane, received two voted in the latest coaches' poll. The Green Wave are now 9-0 on the season.
AROUND THE NATION
In some ways its the worst thing for college football, but in others its the only fair thing to do. The current system calls for the top 2 teams in the nation to face off against each other for the national title, and even though people may not want a rematch, or may even argue that Alabama didn't win their conference title, there's no doubting who the top 2 teams are. Oklahoma St. staked its claim Saturday by routing Oklahoma, but that loss to Iowa St. just weighs them down. Alabama on the other hand, only lost to LSU by 3 points in overtime. My only problem with the rematch is, what happens if Alabama wins? I mean, sure they won "the title", but does that really say Bama is better than LSU?
After his Broncos were passed up in the BCS selection room for teams like Virginia Tech and Michigan, Boise St. coach Chris Peterson lashed out at the BCS. Peterson was quoted as saying, "everyone is just tired of the BCS"..."the whole thing needs to be changed, there's no question about it". Boise St. may or may not have been worthy of playing in a BCS bowl, and the BCS may very well need to be changed, but no non AQ school has ever gone to a BCS bowl with a loss on their record. Boise St. was certainly in line to play in a BCS bowl, and may have even been selected to play for the national championship had their fg kicker just made his kick. Its happened twice now in two years that the Boise St. kicker has ruined a perfect season, and BCS bowl bid with a missed FG. Maybe Peterson needs to start working on his kickers.
Ok, this has absolutely nothing to do with UTEP, Conference USA, or even college sports, but ESPN is reporting that Brett Favre "would listen if the Bears came calling". Seriously, when will we stop hearing about Farve. I mean, I personally think the guy was an awesome QB, but really? Are we gonna do this again?