What's up Miner Rusher's, and welcome to a mid-week edition of "The Dig". Its a busy week around UTEP and Conference USA athletics so we'll try to keep you up to date on everything that is going on. Without further ado, here's the latest on what's happening around Miner Nation, Conference USA, and the rest of the country.
AROUND MINER NATION
UTEP Jr Cross Country runner Justice Chirchir has been named the Conference USA Cross Country Male Athlete of the year. Chirchir was a C-USA first teamer, as well as the individual champion in Conference USA for the 2011 season. UTEP has had the C-USA Cross Country Male Athlete of the Year 5 out of the 7 years it has been in Conference USA. Congratulations to Justice and the entire UTEP Cross Country program.
The UTEP Men's basketball team is off to a 1-4 start, including a loss in Las Cruces to NMSU 89-73 back on November 19th. The Miner held strong in that contest, but were outlasted by the Aggies down the stretch. Hopefully that changes here in El Paso. Tipoff is slated for 3:00 p.m. MT, Sunday December 11th in the Don Haskins Center.
ESPN 600 El Paso radio host Steve Kaplowitz touches on reasons for dwindling attendance at UTEP football and basketball games, and what the university can do to help.
"The UTEP Athletic Department needs to make it their mission to attract the thousands of El Pasoans that have gradually disappeared from Miner football games. It starts and ends with tailgating. The university's depleted marketing team needs to discover a way to make Glory Field and the rest of the UTEP campus the biggest party this city has ever seen."
AROUND CONFERENCE USA
Far and away the biggest news around Conference USA this week is the announcement of Conference USA and the Mountain West intending to move forward with their merger, possibly including all sports, as well as the news of schools like Boise St., San Diego St., Houston, UCF, and SMU making their move to the Big East official. ESPN reported today that sources claim Boise St., and SDSU have already made their move. It'll be interesting to see what comes of this whole merger, and what happens to the likes of Air Force and possibly even C-USA schools like Memphis and ECU.
Conference USA teams in action Tuesday night continued to represent for the conference. #20 Memphis downed Miami (FL) 71-54 on the road, while Marshall held tough in Carrier Dome falling to #3 Syracuse 62-56. Also, UMASS dropped ECU 63-58, Texas St. knocked off Houston 81-78, and Wofford handed Tulane its first loss 61-50. Tonight, Middle-Tennessee is at UAB, Wichita St. is at Tulsa, and Southern Miss is at South Alabama.
AROUND THE COUNTRY
ESPN is reporting that SMU head coach June Jones will be Dennis Erickson's replacement as head football of the Arizona St. Sun Devils, and an official announcement by the university should be coming soon.
ESPN is now reporting that the deal between June Jones and Arizona St. had hit a snag, and the deal may not go through.
Even though the district attorney believes that the accusers of former Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine are being truthful, Fine cannot be prosecuted by the state because the statute of limitations has passed. The case is still being investigated and federal charges could still be brought about.
Former Penn St. assistant coach Jerry Sandusky has been arrested on more sexual abuse charges, and he will remain jailed unless able to pay $250,000 bail. Prosecutors had pushed for the bail to be set at $1 million.