The Dig 2.0: Conference USA Raided Again Edition

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

The Dig is your source for news and information surrounding UTEP sports, Conference USA, and the rest of the country as well.

After hearing that a couple more C-USA schools are bolting for the Big East, its time for the Dig 2.0 to bring you up to speed on everything going on around the college sports world.

First things first, Tulane and East Carolina officially announced on Tuesday that they would be leaving Conference USA for the Big East, effective 2014. The Green Wave will be joining as full members, while the Pirates will be football only members.

Its still yet to be seen what ECU will do for its Olympic Sports, but here's what Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said following the news of their departure:

"We thank East Carolina and charter member Tulane for all their contributions to the league and wish them well...Notwithstanding the changes, we are excited about our future and we remain committed to our strategic plan...To be clear, we have several options, but no new member agreements have been made at this time. We appreciate the support of our members, and will immediately begin a presidentially led process to evaluate our future options."

Many think Conference USA better act quickly. Rumors have swirled that, again, Boise State and San Diego State state may have second thoughts about their move to the Big East, and the Twitterverse is filled with chatter of the MWC inviting Tulsa and UTEP asap.

Next up, after one year, and an 0-12 finish, Southern Miss has decided to fire head football coach Ellis Johnson. Prior to the 2012 season, the Golden Eagles had experienced 19 straight winning records, and hadn't had a winless season in the history of the program.

Athletic Director Jeff Hammond had this to say:

"At Southern Miss we expect to compete hard and succeed both in the classroom and on the field...This is not the exception. This is in fact that standard, the norm, our identity and who we are."

Just add Southern Miss to this list of schools who are currently looking for a head coach.

And speaking of schools looking for a head coach, UTEP happens to be one of them. Rumors have it that both Miner defensive coordinator Andre Patterson, and Sam Houston State head coach Willie Fritz are to interview for the job this week. Fritz, however, denies that he has had any contact with UTEP.

Names like David Yost, Dirk Koetter, Dan Hawkins, Marty Mornhinweg, and Juan Castillo have all been tossed around as candidates for the job. Heck, it has even been said that UTEP athletic director Bob Stull has been in contact with Gene Chizik as well. Not sure if there's any truth to that, but in any case, there are plenty of big names as possibilities to fill the vacancy.

In other news, UTEP shooting guard Konner Tucker announced via his twitter today that he has "been cleared to shoot and dribble", and he's hoping to be back in action by December 8th when the Miners take on Idaho in the Don Haskins Center. This would be great news for the Miners, as the team has struggled offensively, and Tucker may just be the purest shooter on the team.

In recruiting classes, $$ UTEP is ranked 28th for 2013 $$, according to ESPN. The move into the top 30 comes after commits from both Isaac Hamilton and Vincent Hunter.

Here's a quote from ESPN's Dave Telep:

"Once during his tenure at Iowa State, Floyd actually signed 11 players. What does that mean? It tells you the Miners are never totally done despite six new faces as of the end of the early period. Now that Floyd has a top-30 signee, he's got ammunition and we expect he'll remain plugged in enough to know if there's a guy out there capable of helping him in the spring."

Also, the Minnesota Vikings have signed former Miner running back Joe Banyard to their practice squad, after guard Jordan Todman was signed by the Jaguars. Congrats to Joe.

In national news, the Atlantic Coast Conference has filed a lawsuit against the Maryland Terrapins, asking for a payment totaling $52,266,342. According to ACC commissioner John Swofford, Maryland president Wallace D. Loh has "refused to provide assurance the school will pay". For the record, that sum of money just so happens to be 3 times the annual operating budget for the conference. We'll see how that plays out.

In a late addition to The Dig 2.0, Tulsa Athletic Director Ross Parmley has been suspended by the university, due to a ongoing investigation by the FBI. Parmley has reportedly been identified as an "admitted gambler", and is said to have connections to an Oklahoma City bookie. No charges have been filed, but I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this story.

Lastly, one final thought:

With the latest round of conference expansion, once again the idea of UTEP joining the MWC has been brought up. Over the last decade and a half, it seems like this has happened a countless number of times, and yet its never happened. This made me think, what is more likely to come first; an invite to the Mountain West, or an invite to the Big East?

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