The 18th season of Conference USA football is less than six weeks from kickoff, and next week fans will get an idea where their favorite team stands at the annual media day.
It will be a year of transition for the conference.
2012 marks the final season for four schools. Memphis, Houston, Southern Methodist and Central Florida will all be transferring to the Big East next year, and will be looking to leave their mark on the conference.
Next year Old Dominion, Charlotte, Texas-San Antonio, North Texas, Florida International and Louisiana Tech will join the conference.
A year after Houston blew a golden opportunity to destroy the BCS computers; the path to a Conference USA championship is wide-open. Then again, the two top teams from last year are once again the favorites to emerge victorious at the Conference USA championship game on Dec. 1.
Will Houston and Southern Miss meet in a re-match of last year? Or will a new team emerge as a serious threat?
Here is everything you need to know regarding next week’s festivities.
Where: Irving, TX
When: Wednesday, July 25 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. CT
Live Stream: ESPN3.com
|9:00a - 11:30a||Interviews|
|West Division – Print media at DFW Marriott|
East Division – TV Partners at FSN SW Studios
|11:00a – 1:00p||Lunch|
|12:30p – 3:00p||Interviews|
East Division – Print media at DFW Marriott
(Coach in parenthesis)
| ||DB Damon Magazu|
| ||CB D.J. Hayden|
| ||WR Aaron Dobson|
| ||LB Akeem Davis|
| ||TE Luke Willson|
| ||RB Zach Line|
| ||RB Tracey Lampley|
| ||LB Trent Mackey|
| ||DB Dexter McCoil|
| ||OT Chris Hubbard|
| ||RB Latavius Murray|
| ||QB Nick Lamaison|
They were oh so close last year, and are now figuring out how to survive without super QB Case Keenum.
They won’t be able to lead the nation in passing yards and scoring offense again, but new QB David Piland already has experience replacing Keenum.
After a torn ACL knocked Keenum out for the 2010 season, Piland threw for 2,641 yards and 24 touchdowns in only eight games. That was as a freshman.
Now a junior, the Cougar offense shouldn’t miss a beat with Piland under new coach Tony Levine.
Junior running back Charles Sims averaged 7.5 yards a carry in ’11, and will serve as the security blanket for Piland.
The key will be a road contest against UCLA. That’s the bench mark to see how far this team can potentially go.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles
The surprise winners of the conference championship last year have high expectations in year one of the Ellis Johnson era.
His veteran coaching staff brings a ton of value to an Eagles team that will be looking for their 19th straight winning season.
The offense will be heavily reliant on sophomore running back Jamal Woodyard, who will be looking to improve on the 732-yard, three TD season he had last year.
With a week one at Nebraska to kick off the season, we’ll know in a hurry how strong of a team Southern Miss has without QB Austin Davis.