Well, two times in two weeks the Miner football team had an opportunity to pick up a win to make it to bowl eligibility, and two times they turned in extremely poor performances. Call it bad coaching, call it lack of preparation, call it whatever you want. Whatever it is, the Miners saw their football season end in disappointing fashion in Orlando, FL on Saturday. Oh well, its on to basketball season. Its just unfortunate that we don't have much to look forward to there either. Here's whats going on around Miner nation, Conference USA, and college sports in general on Monday, November 28th 2011.
AROUND MINER NATION
(ECHO) Football Season Is Over: Miners lose season ender to UCF 31-14.
Expectations were pretty low coming into the season. We lost a ton of star seniors from last year's team, and no one really knew what to expect from this year's squad. Especially after very narrowly escaping D-1AA Stony Brook in the season opener. Well the team started out 4-3, putting up good showings in all 3 losses. They finished 1-4, and turned in some pretty terrible performances in "must win" situations against Rice, Tulsa, and UCF.
I've been on Mike Price's side for a long time now, but I'm not sure how you can defend him in any way after the finish to this season. I still think the guy should get 1 more year, but the way I see it 7-5 earns him more time, 6-6 will need some convincing to stay around, anything less and he's gone. Thanks to all the Miner seniors who have played their final game in the orange and blue. We've enjoyed watching you all play, and we wish you the best of luck in whatever is to come.
UTEP Basketball Off to Very Slow Start
The UTEP men's basketball team is now 1-3 after Saturday's loss to Stephen F. Austin. The worst part, the Miners managed only 35 points in the 53-35 loss, and now head to Eugene, OR for a matchup with the Ducks. We have to be realistic here though. This team is extremely young, and this is truly a rebuilding year. Just cause Joe Muench wants to go and start jumping off cliffs after 4 games doesn't mean that anything has changed since day 1.
This team is made up of now 7 freshman, 2 sophomores, 2 junior transfers, and a senior who has yet to play a single game this season. There is no leadership on the floor, and there is no one person that we can look to when we need a bucket. We've had that in years past, and it just something we can't just expect right away from such a young group of players.
We may see names like Stephen F. Austin, UTSA, or even Eastern New Mexico, and expect to win the game, but the fact of the matter is that all of those teams have the much needed experience that we lack. Bottom line though, no matter how much this team struggles this year, they will continue to get better. The signings of players like Twymond Howard and Chris Washburn Jr. solidify the future of this program, and a coach like CTF ensures its success. Again, its going to take time, don't stop supporting.
UTEP Women are Last Undefeated Team in C-USA
Unlike the men, the Miner women are off to a fantastic start with a 5-0 record. They knocked off NMSU in Las Cruces a couple weeks ago (76-72 OT), and most recently are coming off an 80-49 drubbing of Denver University. The Lady Miners are led by 6'2 SR forward Gloria Brown who is averaging nearly 14 points a game, and more than 9 rebounds. Next up is round two of the Battle of I-10 tomorrow night in the Don. Good luck to the Lady Miners tomorrow night, and for the rest of the season.
AROUND CONFERENCE USA
#6 Houston, #24 Southern Miss to Square off for C-USA Title
The sixth ranked (BCS) Houston Cougars, and the twenty-fourth ranked Southern Miss Golden Eagles will face off on Saturday for the Conference USA title. The game means much more to Houston than it does to Southern Miss, as a win would send Houston to their first ever BCS bowl appearance. The Golden Eagles, win or lose, will very likely end up in the Autozone Liberty Bowl. The C-USA Championship game will be played at 12:00 a.m ET on Saturday, and will be carried nationally on ABC.
Tulsa, SMU, and Marshall Also Bowling
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane finished their regular season on Friday with a 48-16 home loss to #6 Houston. The loss ended a 7 game win streak, and left the Hurricane at 8-4 overall, and 7-1 in conference. Tulsa now waits to see what bowl they will land in. My opinion, the Ticket City Bowl against Purdue would be the best fit, but ESPN seems like to the Armed Forces Bowl matchup with BYU. Considering C-USA only has 5 bowl eligible teams, and only 4 that would fill C-USA's tie-ins, the Ticket City Bowl and the New Orleans Bowl may be able to opt out of their tie ins.
SMU started off their season 5-1, but finished out 2-4 with losses to the top 3 teams in conference. Still, the Mustangs' 7-5 record is very respectable, and they are also waiting to find out where they will be bowling. The Armed Forces Bowl is a possibility, but Hawaii seems very likely to me.
Marshall finished an up and down regular season on the upswing Saturday, knocking off ECU in overtime 34-27. The Thundering Herd will likely land in the St. Petersburg Bowl, but Hawaii is also a possibility.
Tulane, Rice, and UAB end Disappointing Campaigns
The Tulane Green Wave ended their season on Saturday with a 35-23 loss at Hawaii. The loss was the Wave's 10th in a row. Coach Bob Toledo was fired mid-season, and this program will have to figure out how to pick up the pieces.
The Rice Owls were expecting a successful season this year, and hoping for a bowl appearance, but a 4-8 season just doesn't get that done. Rice lost at SMU 27-24 on Saturday.
The UAB Blazers had perhaps the most disappointing season of all in C-USA. Hopes were extremely high in Birmingham entering the season, but an 0-6 start brought those hopes right back down. The Blazers turned in a 38-35 loss to Florida Atlantic on Saturday, giving FAU their first win of the season, and giving the Blazers an overall mark of 3-9.
ECU Misses out on Bowl Game, Opens up Well Criticized Basketball Schedule
The Pirates were expected to be a contender in C-USA East this football season, but things didn't exactly go as planned. After good showings against top ranked South Carolina and Virginia Tech to open the season, the Pirates won 4 of 6 to get to 4-4 with 4 games to play. Losses against Southern Miss, UTEP, and Marshall gave them a 1-3 finish, and an overall 5-7 record.
The ECU basketball team is off to a 4-1 start, but unfortunately coach Lebo has gone against everything C-USA has asked for in scheduling, and has lined up the cupcake of all cupcakes for his Pirates. So far the Pirates have knocked off Milligan, Coker, Appalachian St., and Chowan, and has lost to Campbell. To be honest, I'm not really sure if those are actual universities, or just AAU teams. The Pirates do have some decent games against ODU, Charlotte, and UMASS, but still have contests against Gardner-Webb, North Carolina Central, and the University of Virginia-Wise to come.
UCF Knocks off #4 Connecticut
The UCF Knights are starting to become known for their early season victories over big time opponents, and the latest of those victims was #4 UCONN. The Knights dropped the Huskies 68-63 in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament, but then lost to 6-0 Harvard in the final (59-49). The win dropped UCONN to #10 in the nation, and the Huskies turned around and beat a Florida St. team who dropped UCF by 23 only days earlier.
Memphis Drops to #22/21 in CBB Polls
The Memphis Tigers opened the regular season as the #8 team in the nation, but a tough outing in the Maui invitational dropped them to #22 (AP) in the latest poll. The Tigers opened up the invitational with a 73-61 loss to #14 Michigan, followed by a double OT win over Tennessee, and an OT loss against Georgetown. The Tigers should have a good chance to rebound against Jackson St. and Austin Peay in their next two, and still have non-conference matchups against those same Tennessee and Georgetown teams they faced in the Maui Invitational, as well as #6 Louisville, and #11 Xavier.
AROUND THE COUNTRY
Syracuse Fires Longtime Assistant Basketball Coach Bernie Fine Amid Scandal
Syracuse University has fired 36 year assistant Bernie Fine amid allegations of child sex abuse. Multiple alleged victims have now come forth to say the Fine engaged in inappropriate touching and/or sexual acts with them. The University had put Fine on administrative leave, but has now fired him as more allegations have surfaced. These reports come only weeks after the scandal blew up at Penn St., and one can only expect much of the same for Syracuse. An alleged recording of Bernie Fine's wife has also been exposed in which she claims that she knows he did it, and knew he had issues.
Urban Meyer is Reported to Accept Ohio St. Coaching Job
One season after the Jim Tressel era at Ohio St. University, the program is reportedly going to be taken over by former Florida coach Urban Meyer. Meyer began his career at Bowling Green, followed by a stint at UTAH, and then 6 years at the University of Florida. Meyer has had great success everywhere he has been. At UTAH in 2005, Meyer led the Utes to and undefeated season, and a 35-7 win over Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl. UTAH finished at #4 in the AP poll, and they were the first non-aq team to make to a BCS bowl. Meyer went on to win 2 national championships at Florida, and has an overall record of 104-23 as a head coach. Although he's taken his fair share of criticism on multiple occasions, the Ohio native has made his way back home, and should enjoy more success as head coach of the Buckeyes.
Quick Note: The Coaching Carousel Continues its Spin
Ron Zook (Illinois), Turner Gil (Kansas), Dennis Erickson (Arizona St.), and Rick neuheisel (UCLA) have all been fired as head football coaches at their respective universities.