Father's Day is very dear to my heart! Not just because he's the man who taught
me how to ride a bike or tie my shoes for the first time, but my father is the
reason why I have been able to follow my dreams in sports.
Growing up, I was the lone girl playing football with all of the other boys in
elementary school. Reason being, that's all I would watch on TV during the
weekends and was all I knew! When I would visit my father, I could always count
on watching the football game with him on Saturdays in the Fall, the basketball
games in the Winter, and Spring time was when we would play catch when the
weather finally turned for the better. He taught me what a blitz was in
football, what it meant to run-the-option, and how to fill out my March Madness
bracket. His advice--fill in the National Champion first, then fill in the
Now, when I have the luxury of going home and there's a big game on TV, I'm the
one who might be giving him my expertise on what the team should run or we debate
a call by the officials.
So I'd like to take this moment to say THANK YOU Dad, you have truly allowed me
to pursue my dreams! Who knew that watching sports on TV could have such an
impact on a little girl like me?
And listen to some of C-USA's Head Coaches as they talk about their plans for Father's Day.
The 2012 college baseball season is upon us.Around Conference USA, nine schools are about to take to the diamond and start down the road that they all hope will end in Omaha, at the College World Series.
What are some things that you need to know about C-USA Baseball in 2012?In honor of the league's 17th season, here are 17 tidbits to consider:
1.There are no new head coaches in Conference USA this season.The league is stacked with talented leaders in each of the nine dugouts.Among this successful group of skippers, three (Rice's Wayne Graham, Tulane's Rick Jones and UAB's Brian Shoop) rank among the top 23 winningest coaches in the NCAA.
2.When UCF takes the field Friday night for its opener against Long Island, it will be doing so at a renovated Jay Bergman Field.Seating capacity has doubled so that more fans can watch this rising program.The facility now seats 3,300 fans.
3.Besides having one of the best names in Conference USA Baseball, Marshall senior C Thor Meeks boasts a strong swing to go with his solid moniker.Meeks has moved into the school's top 10 for career home runs and averages a round-tripper once every 19 at-bats.
4.East Carolina received a boost in the off-season when C Zach Wright, a sixth round selection by the Philadelphia Phillies, turned down an offer to go pro and returned to Greenville.Wright is an All-C-USA performer who had 15 doubles and 13 homers for the Pirates last season.
5.Tulane senior C Jeremy Schaffer is a preseason All-American who led the Green Wave in 12 different offensive categories.He also paced C-USA in doubles with 23 and owns the top on-base percentage among returning players in the league.
6.Southern Miss C Jared Bales was named to a number of Freshman All-American teams last season.Bales threw out 12 potential base-stealers and made just four errors behind the plate.Bales will be also be counted on to help guide some new faces in the Golden Eagles pitching rotation this spring.
7.You may have noticed that the last four notes all dealt with catchers.There is no doubt that the backstops are among the most talented positional group in C-USA going into 2012.And I haven't even mentioned players like John Cannon of Houston, Craig Manuel of Rice and Ryan Breen of UCF.These talented men behind the plate will play a big part of their team's success at the plate, in the field and working with the pitchers this season.
8.Memphis junior RHP Dan Langfield had 16 strikeouts in a game last year against Kennesaw State, the most by a C-USA Pitcher last season and the third-highest single-game total in league history.He went on to finish with 94 strikeouts, the third-highest total in C-USA.
9.UAB junior RHP Dillon Napoleon became the first Blazer to win a major individual award in C-USA, garnering Newcomer of the Year honors in 2011.The 2012 preseason All-Conference USA selection was 5-3 with a 2.87 ERA in 13 starts.
10.One of the other top newcomers last year was Houston junior SS Chase Jensen.He is the Cougars leading returning hitter (.320) and roped 12 doubles and 45 RBI for Todd Whitting's first UH team.Jensen will be a leader for a Cougar club that welcomes 20 newcomers (13 high schoolers and seven junior college transfers) this spring.
11.Six of the nine schools are at least receiving votes in one of the four major polls.Rice leads the way, earning a top 10 listing in each, placing as high as No. 6 (Baseball America).UCF is ranked in the preseason top 25 for the first time since 1991, with the Knights ranked as high as No. 21 (Baseball America).Southern Miss is No. 29 in the NCBWA poll and No. 30 by Collegiate Baseball, with East Carolina, Houston and Tulane each receiving votes in the national listings.
12.There are always talented newcomers to watch each season in C-USA.Baseball America has published its list of top 50 national freshmen for 2012 and C-USA has five players listed among that group.Southern Miss produced the top two, with SS Connor Barwin at No. 2 and OF/LHP Mason Robbins at No. 17.UCF LHP Eric Skoglund is No. 44, Rice RHP Jordan Stephens is No. 48 and Tulane RHP Alex Massey checks in at No. 49.
13.Conference USA always produces its share of preseason All-Americans and this year is no different.Five different players earned these preseason accolades including four Rice standouts.Representing the Blue and Gray are sophomore RHP Austin Kubitza (the preseason C-USA Pitcher of the Year), junior IF/OF Michael Ratterree and junior utility player J.T. Chargois.Also earning preseason All-American honors were Tulane senior C Jeremy Schaeffer and UCF junior 1B/P D.J. Hicks (the preseason C-USA Player of the Year).
14.Having a good closer is the cornerstone to any bullpen and UCF has a very good one in junior LHP Joe Rogers.The southpaw was named to preseason watch list for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year, given to the nation's top relief pitcher.Last season, Rogers had nine saves, the second-highest single-season total in UCF history.He also had 38 strikeouts and just 10 walks in 41.1 innings pitched.
15.Four C-USA schools are coming off NCAA Regional appearances.East Carolina, Rice, Southern Miss and UCF represented the league in the 2011 NCAA Championship.For Rice it was its 17th consecutive appearance (trailing only Miami (Fla.), Florida State and Cal State Fullerton for the most trips in a row.Southern Miss has now played in nine straight NCAA's, which gives the Golden Eagles the tenth-longest string among all D-I schools.In total, C-USA has produced 68 NCAA appearances in its first 16 seasons.
16.Fans who cannot make it to the park to see their favorite C-USA school in person will be able to follow the league better than ever on television.A record-24 games will appear on national or regional television.Most games not televised are available to view on the C-USA Digital Network.
17.The 2012 Conference USA Championship returns to Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss.The championship will employ a slightly different format this year with games spread out over five days instead of four.From Wednesday through Saturday there will be three games each day (11 am, 3 pm and 7 pm).The Championship game will now be played on Sunday, May 27 at 1 pm CT.
Poised once again to be one of the nation's top baseball conferences, Conference USA is excited to get the 2012 season underway.Play Ball!
The 2012 C-USA softball season begins Thursday when UTEP hosts Santa Clara at 3 p.m. MT at Helen of Troy Softball Complex. Preseason All-CUSA selection Chelsea Troupe (.404, 31 RBI, 37 runs, 14 HR, .885 SLG)will lead the UTEP attack along with senior Camilla Carrera, the 2011 C-USA Preseason Player of the Year and 2010 first-team all-conference selection, who returns after missing the majority of last season with a back injury.
UTEP will continue its opening weekend at the Hotel Encanto Tournament, playing games at home and in Las Cruces, N.M., from Friday through Sunday against a field of teams that includes St. Mary's (MD), Illinois-Chicago, Indiana, Santa Clara and New Mexico State.
All nine C-USA softball programs will take part in season-opening tournaments beginning Friday, including the preseason favorite Tulsa Golden Hurricane.Tulsa heads to Lafayette, La., for the Louisiana Classics Softball Tournament. The three-day event features Rutgers, Mississippi Valley State and host No. 23/24 Louisiana-Lafayette. The Golden Hurricane boasts four preseason all-conference picks: sophomore pitcher Aimee Creger (24-3, 1.05 ERA, 256 K), junior shortstopSamantha Cobb(.342, 6 HR, 51 RBI, 32 runs, 16 doubles), sophomore third basemanJill Barrett(.296, 39 runs, 21 RBI) and junior center fielderCaitlin Everett (.407, 37 runs, 23 RBI, 35 SB).
C-USA Preseason Player of the Year Melissa Gregson (.321, 46 RBI, 35 runs, 16 HR) leads a talented Houston attack that returns six position players who started at least 40 games last season. Gregson, along with preseason All-C-USA pick Holly Anderson (.340, 41 runs, 29 RBI, 7 HR) will pace the Cougars during the season-opening Hilton Houston Plaza Classic, Feb. 10-12, at Cougar Softball Stadium. The field includes No. 11/16 Oklahoma State, North Texas, Sam Houston State and Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
Last season, a record-tying five C-USA schools - Houston, Tulsa, UAB, Memphis and East Carolina -- participated in the NCAA Tournament and earned 11 combined wins, with Houston claiming a regional championship.
UAB will host the 2012 C-USA Softball Championship in Birmingham, Ala., May 10-12, at the UAB Softball Field. The three-day event will feature eight teams playing in a single-elimination format.
A full opening weekend schedule is below and listed in the PDF version of this release.
Tulsa, the reigning Conference USA regular season softball champion, has been selected as the 2012 preseason favorite to repeat by a vote of the league's nine head coaches. Tulsa sophomore right-hander Aimee Creger was selected C-USA Preseason Pitcher of the Year while Houston's senior slugger Melissa Gregson was named C-USA Preseason Player of the Year.
Houston and Tulsa are ranked No. 20 and 24, respectively, in the USAToday/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I Top 25 Preseason Poll, as announced today by the organization. The Cougars also are ranked No. 22 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 poll, which also was released today. Tulsa is among others receiving votes in the USA Softball poll and East Carolina is among others receiving votes in the NFCA poll.
Natalie Poole, who took McNeese State to the 2010 NCAA Softball Regionals, was recommended as the head softball coach at the University of Memphis Aug. 3. In three seasons as the head coach at McNeese State, Poole guided the Cowgirls to three-straight 30-win seasons, including a school-record 38 wins in 2010. She guided the Cowgirl program to two Southland Conference (SLC) Tournament championship games, winning the tournament title in 2010 and advancing to the NCAA Regional Tournament.
Kirsten Voak and Jon Malgradi were hired as co-head coaches for the Southern Miss softball program Aug. 9, 2011. Voak comes to Southern Miss after spending the 2006-2010 seasons at her alma mater, Arizona State, where she served as an assistant under head coach Clint Myers. In her five seasons with the team, the Sun Devils went 264-73 and won the 2008 WCWS National Championship. Malgradi comes to Southern Miss after spending the previous three seasons as the head coach at Mesa Community College in Mesa, Ariz., where he compiled a 102-76 record, including a top-10 ranking in 2011 and a regular season conference championship in 2010. Voak and Malgradi were married in 2002.
Former UAB softball player Natalie Mitchell was selected to receive one of 174 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. Mitchell, who also received the Jim Castañeda Postgraduate Scholarship from Conference USA, was one of three softball players and the only C-USA student-athlete to earn an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship last spring. She graduated in May 2011 with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor's degree in molecular biology with a minor in chemistry. She was accepted into the Fifth Year Master's Program in the UAB Department of Biology and will work to earn her master's degree before enrolling in medical school.
Eight Conference USA softball teams - UTEP, Houston, Marshall, East Carolina, Tulsa, UCF, UAB and Southern Miss -- have been recognized by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association as All-Academic Teams for the 2010-11 academic year. The NFCA Academic Awards program honors both collegiate and high school teams for their submitted GPAs for the 2010-11 academic year. As a second component of the program, all submitted student-athletes who achieved a 3.50 GPA during the last academic year are named as a NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete. Forty-five C-USA student-athletes were honored as NFCA All-America Scholar Athletes.
Remember the days of the "Ultimate Fan" contests?Well, unless you are the proud owner of those words (yes, someone actually trademarked "Ultimate Fan") the contest is now called something else.Two years ago our "Ultimate Fan" contest underwent a social media makeover and was renamed the Tweetest Fan.The contest continues to grow in popularity and is scheduled to kick off again with the start of the 2011-12 men's and women's basketball season. Once again, C-USA will seek out more of its Tweetest Fans, using various social media to spread all the exciting news coming from the Conference and its members.If you are reading this blog, then you are the perfect candidate to participate and possibly be this year's big winner!
Prizes will be awarded throughout the basketball season, as fans will receive clues on Twitter (@ConferenceUSA1) and Facebook (Conference USA). Clues will range from answering trivia questions, posting photos and meeting up with conference personnel at remote locations for various prizes and select regular-season game tickets. By simply participating, fans will automatically be registered to win the grand prize - a trip for two to the 2012 Conference USA Basketball Championships, March 7-10 in Memphis, TN. Multiple entries will be accepted increasing your chance to win the grand prize package, which includes tickets, air fare and hotel accommodations. The winner will be selected through a blind draw on Monday, February 27.
Beale Street, Barbecue and Basketball - what more can you ask for in March?So be sure to follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook so you don't miss a chance to win!
According to the latest U.S. Census, I have the 10th-most common last name in America.While not as popular as Smith, Johnson or Williams (the top three), Anderson is said to be the surname of about 857,000 Americans.Well this blog deals with un-common names...the 22 best names in Conference USA Football this season.
Where was the Genesis (Cole) of this concept?If you're a follower of the annual C-USA Baseball Championship blog (and why wouldn't you be?), you know about our annual C-USA Baseball All-Name team.We've taken that concept to the gridiron with this inaugural unveiling of the C-USA Football all-name team.This 22-member squad (matching the number of players on a football field at one time) features the most unique, fun and coolest sounding names in the league and has at least one representative from each school.
In looking at the squad you will think about movies (Rio, Tron), you will think about music (Banjo, Jazz, Hummingbird), travel may be on your mind (Rio again, Cairo, Dakota), TV shows may even come into play (Arsenio, Law).You might even get a little Rowdy (Harper) and need to calm down with a nice glass of (Corey) Redwine, but most of all we hope you enjoy the list.
Rio Johnson, QB, East Carolina
Chevy Bennett, DB, Houston
Rowdy Harper, OL, Houston
Cotton Turner, QB, Houston
Tron Martinez, RB, Marshall
Jazz King, WR, Marshall
Gator Hoskins, TE, Marshall
Skylar Jones, QB, Memphis
Blayze Jones, DB, Memphis
Tanner Shuck, LB, Rice
Chris Banjo, DB, SMU
Arsenio Favor, QB, Southern Miss
Cordarro Law, DE, Southern Miss
Furious Bradley, DB, Southern Miss
Orleans Darkwa, RB, Tulane
Corey Redwine, DL, Tulane
Cairo Santos, K, Tulane
Genesis Cole, WR, Tulsa
Chris Hummingbird, LB, Tulsa
Jamarious Crusoe, CB, UAB
Jose Jose, DL, UCF
Dakota Warren, K, UTEP
Now that you've looked at the list, we are ready to hand out a couple of awards.
First, for the best-first named trio on one team, we have a tie.Houston's triple play combo of Chevy, Rowdy and Cotton share this distinction with Marshall's Tron, Jazz and Gator.
Individually, we have a three-way tie in the category for best overall name.Houston's Cotton Turner, Marshall's Jazz King and UCF's Jose Jose (the name so nice they named him twice).
Be sure and listen for the PA announcer call these names when you are at a C-USA stadium the rest of the season or hear one of the play-by-play announcers name them on television when you're watching at home.You'll know that they are among the most special names in Conference USA.
By Courtney Morrison-Archer, Asst. Commissioner for Public Affairs
With the leaves changing and the smell of pumpkin and bonfires filling the air, that must mean its Conference USA Fall Championship Season!
Halloween will be a real treat as the Conference USA Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships will be held on Monday, Oct. 31 at Wildcat Golf Course in Houston, Texas. Rice University will serve as host for the annual event, which offers free admission to fans. The men's 8K race is scheduled for a 9 a.m. CT start, while the women's 6K race will begin at 10 a.m. An awards ceremony will follow the races at 11 a.m.
Tulsa is the defending C-USA men's and women's cross country champion after becoming the third program in league history to sweep the championship titles. The TU men are one of four C-USA teams ranked among the Top 10 in their respective regions. Tulsa women are ranked No. 30 in the country.
UTEP claimed both individual winners in 2010 as the men finished second and the women placed third as a team. Two-time C-USA medalist for the women, Risper Kimaiyo, returns to this year's meet looking to become the first three-repeat champion in league history. Pushing her on Halloween Monday will be redshirt senior and 2008 individual medalist Silje Fjortoft of SMU. Both enter the championship race with stellar regular-season results. The individual medalist on the men's side from a year ago also returns in UTEP's Elkana Rotich.
The 2011 C-USA Women's Soccer Championship begins later that week as the top eight teams in the regular-season advance to this year's tournament at Mike Rose Soccer Stadium in Memphis, Tenn. The host Tigers completed an unbeaten regular season with an 18-0-1 overall mark and 10-0-1 in league play to secure the top seed. No. 9 Memphis is also the four-time defending champion, but there will be seven teams trying to upend their host this year.
As of this writing, seven of the eight teams had secured their tournament berths. Besides Memphis, Colorado College is the only other team to have clinched its seed at No. 2. SMU, UCF, East Carolina , Tulsa and UTEP will also be among the tournament field, but seeding will be determined following matches on Friday and Sunday. The eighth and final spot will go to the winner of Friday night's Houston-Rice crosstown rivalry match-up.
First-round games will be played Wednesday, Nov. 2, beginning with Colorado College vs. the No. 7 seed at Noon CT. Top-seeded Memphis will play the 8 p.m. CT contest. Semifinal matches start at 5 p.m. CT on Friday, Nov. 4 and the title game on Sunday, Nov. 6, will be televised live on CBS Sports Network at 1 p.m. CT.
For ticket information as well as a final schedule and stats, check out the C-USA Women's Soccer Championship Central page.
The field is already set for the 2011 C-USA Men's Soccer Championship, which will be held November 9-13 in Tulsa, Okla., however each team must wrap up its regular season before seeding can be determined. Marshall, Memphis, SMU, South Carolina, UAB and UCF have secured their bids in the six-team field.
The Blazers and Gamecocks enter the next-to-last weekend of the regular season in a tie for first place, but five of the six teams are still in contention for one of the top two seeds and a first-round bye. Those quarterfinal games will be played on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. CT. Winners will advance to play those top two seeds at the same match times on Friday, Nov. 11. The men's title game will also be televised live on CBS Sports Network at 1 p.m. CT on Sunday, Nov. 13, with the winner earning an automatic berth to the NCAA Championship.
For ticket information in Tulsa as well as a complete championship schedule and stats, check out the C-USA Men's Soccer Championship Central page.
Of course, you can also get the latest championship updates on our website at www.ConferenceUSA.com and the C-USA Digital Network.
by Debbie Davis, Associate Director of Media Relations
Well, we're sitting at the halfway point of the 2011 Conference USA regular season volleyball race and the NCAA automatic bid is still up for grabs. For the past couple of seasons, only a trio of losses has separated No. 1 from No. 4 and, for three out of the last five years, only one loss was the difference between the champion and the runner-up. Looks like that could again be the case this season.
Currently sitting atop the C-USA leader board is defending champion Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane sports an overall mark of 17-5 and stands 8-1 in league action. After participating in the 2010 NCAA Championship, TU appeared at No. 23 in the AVCA Preseason Top 25 Poll and most recently the program found itself at No. 21 in the first addition of the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) Report. Tulsa has only suffered one loss coming from rival SMU back on Oct. 5. In order to repeat as champion, first-year head coach Steven McRoberts must win on the road as six of TU's remaining 11 matches at away from the Reynolds Center. However, TU does host second-placed UAB on Oct. 30.
UAB entered last weekend as the hottest team in the league, riding a seven-match win streak and winners of 13 of its last 14 matches. The Blazers suffered their first two league losses as they ran into an offensive powerhouse in Tulsa's Tyler Henderson and crew Friday night, and an SMU team that's picked up momentum over the last few weeks. Head Coach Kerry Messersmith has her team at 7-2, behind Tulsa, and a solid 17-4 overall.Along with Rice and Houston, the Blazers are among the NCAA RPI Top 65, ranking 61st.Messersmith will be aiming for her first regular season title as the Blazers have a strong history of being a title contender.
Sporting an NCAA RPI of No. 44 is Houston. The Cougars had an extremely tough non-conference schedule as they faced five teams that were ranked among the AVCA Top 25. That competition has second-year head coach Molly Alvey prepped for a strong finish in the C-USA race. UH is currently 14-5 overall and tied with UAB for second in the league at 7-2. Of Houston's 11 remaining matches, seven will come against team in the second half of the current standings and six will be inside the friendly surroundings of the UH Athletics/Alumni Center, where they're undefeated (8-0).
After losing three of the league's best players a year ago, eighth-year head coach Genny Volpe has Rice sitting fourth in the standings and ranked No. 63 in the NCAA RPI. Volpe has coached her team to a 6-3 C-USA record and 11-9 overall. However, the next few weeks will be a challenge for the Owls as they will face one of the toughest roads to the championship. They must travel to UAB, UCF, a team that upset then-No. 1 USC, and UTEP as well as drive a few miles across the city to face Houston. Rice does get the opportunity to host Tulsa and a very different SMU team the beat on Sept. 30. Since that time, the Mustangs have taken down Tulsa, UAB and Houston.
Could Tulsa repeat? Will UAB win its first title? What about Houston? Is Rice experienced enough? Or, could SMU be the dark horse to win it all? We'd love to hear your thoughts.
Conference USA expects an unpredictable and exciting finish to the 2011 regular season race. Stay tuned to the C-USA Digital Network and ConferenceUSA.com for all the latest and most up-to-date volleyball news and results as we enter the second-half of the C-USA race.
Jeremiah Ingram recently joined the C-USA staff and is working in the Media/Public Relations Department. As a member of the multimedia team at the league office, he is enhancing our social media efforts, as well as contributing to the Don't Forget the Hyphen blog. Here is his first post:
by Jeremiah Ingram, C-USA
I suppose the point of most blogs is to: 1) ramble about how interesting your life is; 2) become an instant pundit; 3) journal about things you're interested in or make as many esoteric references as you can, attempting to show the world (well at least your readership) how smart you are.
The good news for you is that I don't think I'm going down any of those paths.
We're going to talk soccer; specifically C-USA men's soccer, but also a more global perspective. I was turned on to soccer during my college days.As a pretty rabid sports fan, I knew the big names, the legends and who was going to win the World Cup, but I never saw a live match until college.Once I did, I was hooked.
Ready?Here we go...
They call it "The Beautiful Game" for good reason. It's not the easiest concept for me to describe, but once you see 11 truly working as one, each player sacrificing and at the same time excelling for the team, you'll understand its beauty.
You can call it what you want: soccer, football, fútbol, futebol, calcio or podosphero (that's English (U.S.), English (England), Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Greek, respectively, if you're scoring at home) - just as long as you call on it.
Seriously, sports can tie the world together.And there is nothing else in sport that is as universal as soccer. And you can see it at a campus near you.
When was the last time you watched a match?Have you ever watched college soccer?If your answer is "No," you're missing out on an epic time.
Why should you go?
1.Really good teams. Four C-USA teams made the 48-team NCAA Tournament last year AND they all won at least one match AND had another team advance to the Elite Eight AND league teams are playing 28 matches this fall against other NCAA Tournament teams.We aren't messing around here.
2.Constant action - football players take nearly a minute between plays, have ridiculously long media timeouts and still take 20 minutes for halftime.Soccer?You get 45 minutes of constant action sandwiched around a 15-minute break.Talk about bang for your buck.
3.Nutmegs - it's what gets all the oohs and ahs of playground basketball with grass and cleats.
4.Sixteen seasons, nine different champions in C-USA.It's not just one or two schools that have good teams.They're all good.
5.Great players.This season alone four C-USA players - Arthur Ivo and Juan Castillo of SMU, UCF's Warren Creavalle and Tulsa's Justin Chavez -- are on the Hermann Trophy Watch List...there are only 42 players in the country on that list and we have a bunch.What's the Hermann Trophy?Nothing much, just the equivalent of the Heisman or Naismith.See, great players. Oh, and we have the nation's top scorer this season (McKauly Tulloch of UCF) and the two top assist men (Tyler Riggs and Charlie Pettys of Kentucky).
6.Ranked teams. Seven C-USA teams have appeared in the rankings this season.That's more than two-thirds of the league.
7.Coaching legends.How about the winningest active coach in DI men's soccer (South Carolina's Mark Berson)...and two in the top five (Bob Gray of Marshall is No. 4)? Oh, and two others in the top 45.Seven of the league coaches have more than 100 career wins.
8.No Beckham.Seriously.Unless there is a rogue jersey sighting.
9.No top 10 lists in blogs.
Seriously, though.I've seen a lot of college soccer during the past dozen years and I can say without equivocation that this year's crop of C-USA teams is very strong.Do yourself a favor and go see a match or two. You might just get hooked.
Be sure to log on to the C-USA Digital Network to catch some of the upcoming league action:
Friday, September 30
eTulsa at South Carolina................... 7:30p
Saturday, October 1
eMemphis at Marshall....................... 6:00p
e(14) UCF at (RV) SMU...................... 7:00p
Sunday, October 2
e(21) Kentucky at FIU........................ Noon
Toni Gockel joined the C-USA staff in August and is working in the Marketing Department. But she doesn't just stop there! She helps out in all areas here at C-USA, and we appreciate her hard work and enthusiasm! She is a former UAB Soccer player and gives us her insight from a student-athlete's perspective. C-USA conference play opens up tonight so be sure to check out and support C-USA soccer! Here is her post:
Greetings Conference USA lovers and internet surfers! I'm
kind of new to this blog thing, so take it easy on me! I was asked to do a blog about my life as a
student-athlete in C-USA, and now staff. My name is Toni Gockel and as
previously hinted, I am one of the interns here at C-USA. I work alongside the fabulous
staff of the marketing department, particularly Kelly Carney. I arrived here,
in Dallas, Texas, at the beginning of August from Birmingham, Ala.And let me tell you, it was HOT here. Not hot
like 90 degrees where you could still manage to exit air-condition and be okay...No,
hot like 109 degrees to the point where metal was melting.Oh well, enough about weather chit chat. Let
me tell you a little about me and C-USA!
I was a former C-USA soccer athlete that competed with the
UAB Blazers from 2006-2009ish. I say "ish" because I was still eligible to play
in the Spring of 2010, but our season is a Fall sport, therefore spring matches
were more or less for new players to get confidence playing in game
experiences.Being part of a collegiate
team is like being part of a family. You have your ups and downs, but at the
end of the day everyone is family and we love each other.You do everything with your teammates.
Traveling, practicing, eating, class, study hall, living together, going out,
exploring....you get the picture. And yes, we actually went to study hall
(believe it or not). There were fights, there were smiles, there were tears and
there were hugs. It was definitely part of my life that I wouldn't trade for
anything. Before I go on, I have to give my UAB teammates a shout-out for being
the 2006 C-USA champions! I have a ring to prove it Look!
life was over, I took some time to be a "normal" student for my last year at
school. It was bizarre not having to wake up at 5:45 a.m. for practice or
conditioning anymore.Some days I would
wake up and feel guilty, as if I was skipping...but I wasn't. It took some serious
time before I finally got out of the swing of being a competitive athlete.But those first few weeks felt so free and wonderful.
Your body isn't sore, you can actually sleep until 8 a.m., no more training
room visits between classes, and no more fitness tests! Life was grand, but then
after the high of feeling free and independent wears off, it hits you like a
brick in the face. I truly missed being
part of a team and doing what I love to do every day. I would trade soreness
and lack of sleep all over again for my soccer family. True friendships were
made to last a lifetime. It was a bittersweet goodbye to a great chapter in my
Now it was time for the real world! I knew I always wanted
to be surrounded by the athletic world one way or another. I began my college
career thinking I was going to become a physical therapist, boy was I wrong. I
began being very fascinated in the intricate workings of what goes on inside sports
operations. It all looked so magnificent and well put together. As a student-athlete,
you don't always appreciate what staff members do to bring a game or tournament
to life. I decided to take the opportunity of doing an internship with the UAB
athletic marketing department before I faced the work force. It was exhausting
yet exciting! I finally knew what really needed to be done just for a single
event to take place. Cameras needed to be up, promotions needed to be set,
production trucks had to be ready, and the script needed to be finalized! It is
a full-time job and most gets unnoticed by the student- athletes. I can take blame; I
was one of those unaware until this opportunity opened my eyes.
So, after finishing up at UAB, I was lucky enough to keep my
passion alive by an internship offer here at C-USA!
It's pretty awesome getting to work for the conference that
supported me for four years. The life of a
C-USA intern has some nice perks. I get a chance to see what all it takes for a
major athletics conference to succeed.It's pretty sweet to now be on the other side of the playing field. I no
longer battle on the field, but now I compete for all of our student-athletes off the
field here within C-USA.I somehow still
feel a relationship with all those athletes, like I am one of them. This is a
perfect way to still stay connected.
Every day for me so far has been different. One day I might
be on the phone and writing e-mails to our member schools and the next day I
might be meeting coaches, players, or other important people that deal with our
sponsorships and television deals. I basically assist whoever may need a
helping hand at that particular time. As an intern, I get to experience bits
and pieces of everyone's line of work.I'm grateful to have the opportunity to learn from so many great people
and watch them do what they do best. Since I just began working at the
beginning of August, I have not seen the full picture nor made any trips yet.However, I will travel to the football
championship site (TBA) and the Men's basketball tournament in Memphis, TN. I
look forward to experiencing a whirlwind of events.
There is a lot of work and effort that goes on around here that
keeps Conference USA productive and well established. So keep cheering for your
favorite team and keep supporting Conference USA! Oh, and all of you student
athletes out there reading this...keep up those grades, because nobody likes a
Sadly,the time has come for me to say good-bye for now. Thank you all for
reading my thoughts and expressions on the transition of being a student-athlete to a
working gal. If any of you ever have any questions, comments, funny jokes,
concerns, etc. feel free to drop me a line.
As much I as love football, I also love fashion.When choosing a career path, sports journalism got the edge but the creative bug managed to manifest itself in other ways.So being the artistic type, it's not surprising that when I am watching or attending an athletic event, my eye is drawn not only to the action on the field, but the details surrounding it - including signage, advertisements, souvenirs, the video board andwhat the teams are wearing.
It's no surprise then that September is a month I look forward to every year - fashion week, football kickoff and the thickest editions of the fashion and beauty magazines detailing all the trends of the season.While the X's and O's are still the most important part of the game, there is a definite interest in who and what teams are wearing on the "green carpet" as evidenced by a few national sports blogs dedicated strictly to covering uniforms.With fashion, you are making a statement and with continued emphasis on promotion and branding across college athletic programs, the football uniform is an opportunity to create buzz - public relations speak for publicity.Last week's debut of Maryland's custom look generated as much watercooler talk as Lady Gaga's meat dress at the MTV music video awards.
Current trends of the football uniform include an emphasis on fit and fabric relative to sports performance and safety.Popular uniform manufacturers like Nike, Under Armour and adidas feature cutting edge designs with improved ergonomics, ventilation, fabric weight, streamlined pads and increased protection.Custom design also incorporate team colors with distinctive striping and accents, numbers and color combinations.The standard home and away uniforms have been enhanced with different pant and jersey combinations, along with specialty uniforms such as throwbacks, single-game custom designs, commemorative jerseys and helmets.Trendsetter Oregon boasts a Kardashian-sized closet when it comes to its uniform arsenal, with more than 80 different combinations for uniform choices.
To prepare for game day each team has its own equivalent of Rachel Zoe- the equipment manager.This group is one of the hardest working in college football and in preparing to write this blog, I chatted with each one of them about all things uniform in Conference USA.
Football uniforms among Conference USA teams are primarily traditional - much like your favorite pair of Levis jeans - clean cut and classic - think Ralph Lauren or Tommy Hilfiger.The head coach is the primary decision maker when it comes to the uniform style and design, but several favor input from the equipment managers and the players.Nike is the uniform manufacturer for 11 of the C-USA teams (adidas outfits SMU) and the traits of those companies can be seen in the current attire.
New coaches and wear and tear are the main reasons for a uniform change, but sometimes the players or a logo change may inspire it.East Carolina recently debuted new helmets featuring the pirate skull and crossbones mark which has become a popular favorite in Greenville.The Pirates also upgraded their jerseys to the Nike Pro Combat material that has received positive player feedback due to its fit and feel.Memphis also upgraded to the new Nike material when it introduced new uniforms this year, along with a slight color adjustment to the blue/gray home sets.Memphis was added as a vertical accent to the pants.UTEP made several changes to their Nike uniforms this year, including material, streamlining color, upgrading to twill letters and numbers and incorporating "MINERS" down the side of the pants.SMU is also enjoying a new seamless tech fit jersey, produced by adidas, as well as a few tweaks to the pony on the helmet.
Houston is one of the only teams in the league to wear throwback jerseys and helmets this season reminiscent of the Yeoman era.The jersey also features an arched chest insignia.The throwbacks celebrate the history of UH football for the 2011 homecoming celebration in October.
Tulane changed the face masks of its white helmets from black to green.Southern Miss added a new helmet this year,black with a matte finish, which is another look that is popping up on the field.The Golden Eagles are mixing it up by wearing a new helmet decal every three games.The decal designs are top secret until revealed the week before they will be worn.
Helmet decals are a great way to keep the uniforms traditional, but incorporate a custom touch for a special occasion.Rice and Tulsa made a patriotic statements with red, white and blue American flag inspired versions of their logos on the helmets.Rice will also add a pink script "R" for breast cancer awareness in October.
Tulsa and UCF keep their equipment stylists very busy as they may have the most uniform combinations in the league.The Knights feature straightforward uni sets in black, gold and white and to keep things running smooth, a game day look has already been assigned for each game on the schedule this year. The Golden Hurricane, whose blue jersey/gold pants/gold helmet uniforms look stunning on HD TV, have a designated group of players who decide the uniform look for each game.Be on the lookout for a new helmet Tulsa has under wraps, designed by the equipment manager himself.
If you are tuning in to a college football game or the Oscars, you could be asking yourself, "What are they wearing?"Fashion has turned the 50-yard line into a runway of sorts, an opportunity for athletic programs to make their own style statement. For this football fan and fashionista, I can't wait to see what's next.
There's nothing like gameday. If your team is playing at home, you've got your friends and family tailgating outside the stadium with you, your marching band playing that same familiar fight song you just happen to know all the words to and you've got everyone in the city wearing the same color. (Total fashion faux pas to walk in somewhere and have someone else wearing the same thing as you! But game day is where we let it slide...)
As I've traveled to all of the schools and into the heart of their home cities, it's always so wonderful to be greeted by the fans. They have such passion for their programs, and where I am equally a fan of every C-USA school, I can't help but smile, nod, and listen to what is in someone's heart as they talk about their school.
I was once and am still a very big fan of my alma mater, but now it's grown to appreciating everyone who cheers for their school and athletic program---because I can empathize when that OT game results in a loss, or can be on cloud nine when that game results in victory after a last-minute play. Afterall, we all have a heart and passion and we all appreciate what fans bring to the game... except of course if it's that day's opponent.
Darren Clark, Marshall Almnus and Thundering Herd fan for life.
There are moments that are permanently etched in our minds - associated with a special thought, feeling, maybe a person or a song.And they are private.Then there are moments that define history, reshape lives and become a common thread of people that may never have had a reason to know of each other.And those moments are not always private, but shared, to provide remembrance, healing and hope.
September 11, 2001 was a day filled with moments of images, thoughts and emotions that will always seem fresh, almost surreal.It was a day that you will always remember where you were and what you were doing in those moments when you first heard the news of the terror attacks, and how those moments of tragedy, horror and heroism left their mark.
On the 10th anniversary of September 11, Conference USA staff reflected on those moments:
Britton Banowsky, Commissioner
I was on staff at the Big 12 Conference on September 11, 2001. Kevin Weiberg and I were on a Board of Directors teleconference when our chair suggested that something was going on in New York City and that we should all turn on our television sets as the images were astounding.
On Labor Day, 10 years ago, my wife Cindy and I were with our kids in New York City and we spent a couple of hours in the World Trade Center, going up to the observation deck. The very next week, I remember my feeble effort at explaining to our youngest son, who was seven at the time, what had happened to those buildings and the people in them. The visual images he saw were horrific.I simply could not explain the situation.
The whole idea that a group of human beings could be so passionate about their religious beliefs that they would purposefully kill thousands of other humans, while these evil acts are not uncommon throughout history, they remain inexplicable. Certainly, it shaped our futures like nothing else in my generation's lifetime has. Not only the public and foreign policy of our country has been affected, but it made a deep and lasting impact on the attitudes of its people.
We will forever remember that day and pray there will never be another one like it.
Alfred White, Associate Commissioner
I was working in Asheville, North Carolina for the NBA as President of the Asheville Altitude of the National Basketball Development League (NBDL). The 2001-02 season was the inaugural year of the NBDL and much time was spent on the telephone with the NBA offices in Manhattan. I just happened to be on the telephone with the league office when the first plane crashed into the first World Trade Center building. The sound was so loud that the person I was talking with said they had to hang-up to go find out what it was. We had a television in our offices and programming was interrupted immediately. People in the office quickly congregated to the television and about the time I got to it, the second plane was crashing into the second World Trade Center building. In the days that followed the crashes of the airplanes and the names of the passengers began to be revealed, I learned that one of the passengers on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon was Barbara Olson, the older sister of a high school classmate of mine. In the weeks following the crashes, the telephone meetings with people at the NBA offices resumed and many times I was informed that Funerals for New York City first responders were taking place at Churches (Saint Thomas, St. Bartholomew's and Saint Patrick's) nearby the NBA offices.
Kelly Carney, Associate Commissioner
Just thinking about 9/11 puts me right back in my car...which is exactly where I was when I heard of the first plane crashing into the Twin Tower.I was headed to work and was on the Dallas Parkway getting ready to u-turn to the other side to get to my office.I was listening to The Ticket and they had just started to talk about what they were seeing on the TV from in their studio.I remember them being confused and trying to explain it as if it was a random, yet major, airplane accident.I immediately called my husband Drue who was at home.He was already watching the TV and was my eyes and ears for the entire day.We had a TV at the office - but it was for watching VHS tapes as we didn't have it connected to cable or satellite.Through the rabbit ears we were able to get a bad black and white picture, but the audio was in Spanish and I did not understand a word.Drue taped two networks on two of our TVs that day, so I was able to re-watch everything when I got home that night. I was in a daze all day at work, but can remember being very emotional that night, when I could finally hear the commentary and interviews from the various people affected that day.My Dad is from NY and having gone to school on the East Coast, I have quite a few friends from NY.So I knew people that lost people and it was just heartbreaking. I just can't believe 10 years has past...it sure seems like just yesterday to me.
Russell Anderson, Assistant Commissioner
When 9/11 occurred, I was working at Conference USA when its offices were in downtown Chicago on Wacker Drive, about six blocks from the Sears Tower.Early that morning, several of us had gathered in the Commissioner's office to watch the news coverage and we saw the second plane fly into the World Trade Center.As we continued to watch and saw that there were other planes in peril in the Eastern United States, our thoughts turned to wondering if Chicago and the Sears Tower were among the potential terrorist targets on that day.Thankfully, they were not.But, it was certainly an uncomfortable location to be in during the morning hours of that horrific day.
The other thing that stands out to me about that day and the following days was the feeling that hung over our entire country.A feeling of shock, sadness, despair and disbelief.A feeling that contained some anger, as well.But, a feeling eventually evolved into resiliency and renewed patriotism.
Courtney Morrison Archer, Assistant Commissioner
It is hard to believe 10 years has passed since Sept. 11. That fall, I was pregnant with my first child and working for the Orange Bowl Committee. Normally I was at my Miami office early, but that morning there had been a planning meeting scheduled at the stadium near our home.
My husband and I were watching the Today Show when they broke into coverage that a plane had slammed into one of the World Trade Centers. Just when we thought it was a horrible accident the second plane slammed into the South Tower. It was all so difficult to comprehend and my first thought was to leave for the meeting. The car radio had news about the Pentagon and when I arrived at the stadium lobby, we watched in horror as the Towers collapsed.
A few days later we stood in front of a neighbor's house with candles to commemorate those who died. Everybody on our street did the same thing. It was as quiet a night as we can ever remember. However, it did bring us closer to the neighbors we already knew and introduced us to many we didn't. As our family would be growing, I realized the importance in appreciating those around you.
I knew the world my daughter would enter would be entirely different than the one I knew before Sept. 11. I hope she never has to experience a time like that, but is always thankful to the heroes of that day and that she could come across any day.
Keisha Dunlap, Assistant Commissioner
On September 11, 2001, I was interning at Loyola College in Maryland (Baltimore). It was my first time truly being "away" from home and I had plans to fly home that weekend for a family wedding. It was terrifying being so close to Washington DC. Loyola was shut down for a couple days, the World Trade Center in Baltimore was on alert; it was a very scary time. I remember being completely consumed with the news coverage surrounding the event and having nightmares of the images of people falling and jumping from the twin towers. Ten years later, my heart continues to ache for all the families affected by the attack.
Erika Amstadt Hirschfield, Coordinator of Multimedia/Creative Services
For me it was just a regular work at home day and my daughter's first day of preschool.My home office at the time was a corner in our family room, but I never had the TV on while I was working.I was focused on a deadline for the Conference USA basketball guide - specifically ad copy that we needed from our corporate partner - Aeropsotale - whose office was in downtown New York City.I remember talking to my colleague Pete Rhoda, who was at the league office in downtown Chicago.Something he said made me turn on the TV.There was the second WTC tower falling.I mistakenly thought it was a replay of the first one.The TV stayed on for the entire day.A few hours later I got a call from the person I was working with about the ad copy from Aeropostale in New York.At this point, the ad copy deadline seemed so insignificant and I asked this person, who was essentially a stranger, "Where are you?Is everyone in your office okay?What is going on? Don't even worry about this ad right now."All he could say in a calm steady voice was that working was the only thing he could do to keep some normalcy to the day, especially because he didn't realize what was happening and work was the safest place to be at that time.
I know I made and received many more phone calls that day - to my family, friends, co-workers and my daughter's school - but I honestly can't remember those conversations.What I remember most is the few short minutes on the phone with a relative stranger working in a building in downtown New York who was grasping for "normal" among the turmoil.And sadly realizing that day there was an entire nation hopeful for the same.
Monay Lyles, Director of Events
Reflecting back to the morning of September 11, 2001 can be extremely difficult for people. Everyone I've spoken to regarding that historic day will never forget where they were when they heard about the horrible news. That morning I had the NBC Today Show on in my bedroom as I got ready for work. I heard Katie Couric and Matt Lauer saying something about one of the Twin Towers in NYC being hit by a plane so I walked towards my bedroom to see the breaking news. Standing in my bedroom doorway I watched as the second plane hit the South Twin Tower. Immediately a sense of denial hit me. Was America really under attack? Was this actually happening to our country? Watching the towers crumble to the ground was heart wrenching. No one would have ever thought the Twin Towers could or would fall. I felt many emotions that day but most of all there was a pain in my stomach knowing so many lives were lost and my heart went out to all those victims and their families. Seeing videos and pictures from that day reminds me to live for today and not for tomorrow.
Debbie Davis, Associate Director of Media Relations
Even though I didn't have a family member or loved one killed in the attacks of September 11, 2001, my life changed. I no longer feel 100 percent safe in my country. When I'm at airports, sporting events and even the local grocery stores my mind wonders about the people around me and who they really are - could they hurt our homeland? Even with those insecurities, the greatest thing I gained from the attacks of 9/11 was my true aspiration for our service men and women. I now see them in a totally different light. Our first responders, along with our soldiers, are our true heroes. I now realize and appreciate the fact that they risk their lives on a daily bases for people they don't even know. The 9/11 terrorist attack put fear into my soul but it also opened my eyes to the kindness, love and compassion Americans have for each other. God Bless America!
Kelly Ninemire, Sports Services & Officiating Assistant
September 11th was a day that I will always remember very well because of the impact it had on our country. I was sitting in my AP English class and our principal came over the loud speaker to inform us of this horrible tragedy. Our teacher immediately turned on the television to watch the news reports of what was going on. One of the fathers of a student in my class was in New York for business and in that moment that we found out, our attention immediately went to comforting her. I remember my heart breaking for her because I couldn't imagine the thoughts or feelings she was having. I will never forget the sense of togetherness that came over that entire room and school. I immediately wanted to be at home with my family because it was such a scary feeling and time. I remembering watching hours of footage on TV and just when we thought the worst thing that could happen had, another plane hit the other tower. I didn't want to go to school or be anywhere other than home because I was fearful of the events that could potentially happen. That day affected so many lives and 10 years later, it is still one that I can vividly remember.
Toni Gockel, Marketing Intern
Wow, has it really been 10 years already? That heart retched moment was like nothing I have ever experienced before.I was in my 8th grade social studies class with Coach Clay giving out our pointless worksheets for the day. You remember those worksheets for busy work, right?The ones that just filled up time for coach to read his ESPN magazine or draw up football plays for the big game that week.He took a break from teaching while we had to search through hundreds of vocabulary words and chapters to find one word answers.I flipped through the book to find the answer to question 1, and then it all happened. The announcement came over the intercom ... everyone stood silent. We turned the T.V. on and it was like a scene from the movie Independence Day. Some class mates were crying others in complete disbelief. We were all so young we did not know what to make of it. After the entire incident had happened, the school released us to go home to be with our families.
I personally did not have any family members or close friends that were directly affected by the attack, but it hit everyone extremely hard...one way or another. For the next couple days I began understanding what detrimental impact this had on our nation.My heart goes out to all families that lost their hero that day. Our country stood strong through such a tragedy. Thank you to all of our first responders and military that dedicate their lives to protect our country. That was definitely a day that I will never forget.
Greetings Conference USA Fans! It's about time football is back in our homes and hearts, and special Hyphen Blog correspondent Russ Anderson, Assistant Commissioner for Football and Baseball Operations, is here to get you pumped up for the occasion with his entry below. He has been with the league since it's formation in 1995 and no one else knows C-USA football more than him. Enjoy!
- A look
at C-USA Football by Russell D. Anderson
Shortly after UCF defeated Georgia in the 2010 AutoZone
Liberty Bowl ,
I began looking forward to the 2011 season.That's because there is nothing quite like football season.Those magical Saturdays in the fall, filled
with all of the outstanding traditions that surround the great game of college
football.The tailgating, the alumni,
the band, and the cheerleaders - all of the pomp and circumstance that makes
the game like no other.
Having worked for the league since its inception, I have
visited every league campus for a football game and have learned that each one
has great things to offer on game day.
Let's start with the venues themselves.The stadiums in Conference USA run the gamut,
from historical structures like Legion Field in Birmingham, Liberty Bowl
Memorial Stadium in Memphis and Rice Stadium (site of my beloved Miami Dolphins
victory in Super Bowl VII) to modern facilities like SMU's Gerald J. Ford
Stadium and UCF's Bright House Networks Stadium, an edifice that literally
shakes back and forth when the Knights student sections start getting
We have a stadium that is nicknamed "The Rock" and a
stadium that is built in between giant rocks (The Sun Bowl in El Paso).Tulsa's H.A. Chapman Stadium is one of
college football's oldest stadiums, though you wouldn't know it after a dramatic
renovation several years ago.It too has
a Rock, a symbolic stone outside the TU locker room that represents team
Marshall's Joan C. Edwards Stadium is one of only two FBS
Stadiums named after a woman and is also known as the stadium in which the home
team has the highest home field winning percentage in all of the FBS (.866
since its opening in 1990).Tulane plays
in the comfort-controlled world-famous Louisiana Superdome, while Houston's
historic Robertson Stadium hosted multiple AFL championship games when the Houston
Oilers called the facility home.
There are great traditions that occur outside the
stadiums on game day.Like at Southern
Miss, where the Eagle Walk takes place before each home game.Players, coaches, band and cheerleaders walk
all the way around M.M. Roberts Stadium as Golden Eagles fans cheer them
on.Or at SMU, where Bishop Boulevard
turns into one of the greatest tailgate scenes in all of the land, culminating
with the Mustang band leading fans into the stadium prior to kickoff.At Memphis, Tiger Lane debuted last season to
rave reviews. This grassy tailgate area on the west side of the Liberty Bowl
fills with Tiger supporters, no doubt eating some of that world famous Memphis
barbecue.And no mention of pre-game
tailgating would be complete without mentioning East Carolina, where Pirate
Nation has made game day a special experience for years.
Pre-game rituals include UTEP coach Mike Price leading
the Miners team through the stands, carrying a 19th-century pickaxe
over his head to the cheers of the crowd.Or, East Carolina taking the field through a smoke-filled entrance,
while Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" blares over the loudspeakers.
Other unique traditions include a live Bengal Tiger (TOM,
as in Tigers Of Memphis) that joins the Memphis team as it enters the field,
and a white horse named Pegasus, ridden onto the field at UCF by the school's
Knight mascot.You'll want to stay in
your seats at halftime at Rice because you never know what you'll see from the
MOB (the Marching Owl Band), one of the most unique college bands in the
country.At Houston, you'll see Cougar
touchdowns celebrated by The Frontiersmen, a group of students dressed in white
Cowboy hats and dusters that proudly wave UH and state of Texas flags around
the field following each UH score.
When the home team wins the game, well, I think all 12
schools know how to celebrate that in their own special way.And with the season about to begin, let's
hope that fans all around Conference USA are getting ready to do a lot of that
with class and good sportsmanship.
There are many great ways that you can follow the action
in Conference USA Football this fall.We
will have a record number of televised games by our TV partners, Fox Sports,
CBS Sports Network and CSS, among others.Fox Sports will be producing several weekly
TV shows containing extensive Conference USA coverage, including a weekly 30-minute
show entitled "C-USA Showcase."ConferenceUSA.com will
have video highlights and features, audio shows on our podcast page, press
releases, statistics and much more.But
the best way to truly enjoy Conference USA Football is at a stadium near you.What better way for a fan to show his support
for the league than to be there in person cheering for his or her favorite
I look forward to seeing many of you at Conference USA
stadiums this fall.Let us know some of
your favorite football traditions below or share them with us on Twitter
(@ConferenceUSA1) or the Conference USA Facebook page
Russell Anderson is
C-USA's Assistant Commissioner for Football and Baseball Operations and has
worked for the league since its inception in 1995
Greetings from Don't Forget the Hyphen! We are still in
Championship mode here at the C-USA Headquarters as last weekend we completed
three championships--which were a great success--and coming up we have our last
one for the school year: the Baseball Championship. In this week's edition of
The Hyphen, we'll continue #Winning, of course, but we'll also look at diamonds
and the musical stylings from the 80s--Come on Eileen,
look! He went to Jared!
Next week we begin our C-USA Baseball Championships,
featuring three Top 30 teams in (14)Southern Miss, (19) Rice, (30) East
Carolina with UCF,Houston, Tulane, Memphis and UAB rounding
out the rest of the field. Having had the most competitive season this year,
C-USA Baseball won't let you down next week as eight teams will be playing on
one diamond ready to take home that Championship Trophy and an automatic berth in the NCAA Championship. All games will be
available on our various media platforms: (Check back Saturday nightfor Seedings)
Wednesday, May 25
4 vs. 5
1 vs. 8
3 vs. 6
2 vs. 7
Thursday, May 26
4 vs. 8
3 vs. 7
1 vs. 5
2 vs. 6
Friday, May 27
6 vs. 7
2 vs. 3
1 vs. 4
5 vs. 8
Saturday, May 28
Making its coveted return next week is the Baseball
Championship Blog, moderated by the venerable Russ Anderson of Conference
USA and Richie Weaver of Tulane. The blog will be updated throughout each day of the championship.
Check out entries such as this one from 2009, outlining UCF coach Terry Rooney's love of 80's music. You won't want to miss stuff like this.
Rock Me Ormideaus Posted
at 6:37 p.m. CT
UCF Baseball SID Brian Ormiston has a very different Take (on Me) on how to
write his baseball notes. He's not Too Shy (Kajagoogoo) about putting in a
reference or two to 1980's music (when Video Killed the Radio Star). It's
really a tip of the cap to Knights head coach Terry Rooney, who loves 80's
music almost as much as anything other than baseball, and it's a Perfect Way
(Scritti Politti) to help promote Games People Play (Alan Parsons Project).
Now, he knows this may not make everyone Flock (of Seagulls) to read the notes,
but he doesn't Wait (White Lion) to put in a pun or two. In fact, he Faithfully
(Journey) adds new ones to each notes package, saying "Here I go
Again" (Whitesnake). Check it out and see for yourself: UCF
Meanwhile, C'est La Vie (Robbie Nevil)...
In last week's post I foreshadowed the upcoming Mega
Multimedia Championship #Winning (insert another adjective here) weekend and
told you to check back on the outcome. As promised, and a little late, the Mega
Multimedia Championship #Winning (insert another adjective here) Weekend was a
great success. East Carolina took home, for the second straight year, the C-USA
Softball Championship, which happened to be on their home turf. Congrats Pirates! Texas, a C-USA
affiliate in rowing, won the C-USA Rowing Championship, and our Outdoor Track
and Field championships were streamed live for the very first time so fans
watched the UCF Knights
Men's team win the Outdoor T&F Championship this year. Congrats to
And to credit Rice this past weekend, most of the Mega
Multimedia Weekend was on their part. They hosted the 2011 C-USA Outdoor Track
and Field Championships adn were the ones to
take the initiative to stream it live for the first time. The production was
top-notch and we had many viewers tuned in to watch the races and events on
their new bright blue track. At the same time, they agreed to participate in the
first-ever C-USA Baseball telecast without
using a production truck and produce the game in HD using a nifty new broadcast
production unit called the TriCaster (I will refrain from going into the
technical details, but be assured that this is HUGE). Anyway, we couldn't
have had the Mega Multimedia Championship #Winning (insert adjective here)
Weekend without the great folks at Rice. Thank you!
Welcome back to Don't Forget the Hyphen! In this edition we
feature #Winning, duh. This weekend we have three championships going on, yes,
three: Softball, Outdoor Track and Field, and Rowing. So, in a nutshell, it's a
busy weekend for us here at C-USA.
We take you to Greenville, N.C., where Softball has already
gotten underway with Tulsa taking the win over Marshall 10-0 in Game 1 and UCF
edging out UAB by a run, 2-1, in Game 2 of today's action. Now, this
championship will definitely feature some great games as C-USA has produced
some excellent softball teams this year. Houston took the regular season championship
with C-USA Player of the Year Melissa Gregson, who leads C-USA in home runs, and
Newcomer of the Year Pitcher Donna Bourgeois. Tulsa has a young squad, but it
is a very talented squad as four players were named to the C-USA All-Conference
With her third consecutive C-USA Pitcher of the Year award,
East Carolina will showcase Toni Paisley on their home diamond this weekend.
Paisley leads the conference in seven categories including Batters Struck Out,
Innings Pitched and Wins. Not in the Greenville area? Easy, the Conference USA
Digital Network has you covered as we are live-streaming every game for our
subscribers. Click here
to watch your team! Also, be sure to check out our Championship
Central for live stats, game tracker and post game stats and highlights.
Next up on our Winning Weekend: Outdoor Track and Field. The
setting is Houston on the Rice University campus, where all 12 C-USA schools
will compete on Rice's brand new and quite colorful Holloway Field/Ley
Track. For the first time, with the hard work of the wonderful Rice staff,
we are streaming this event live and free to everyone. Now, streaming a Track and
Field Championship is a little tricky as there are so many events going on
simultaneously and one right after the other. We hope to offer to you a
flawless production with live results, photo finishes and record breaking
performances. So on Saturday and Sunday TUNE IN HERE!
Last on our Winning Weekend is our Rowing
Championship. The C-USA Rowing Championship features three C-USA schools--SMU, Tulsa and UCF--and
five affiliate schools-- Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. On
Saturday in the beautiful eastern Tennessee countryside, eight schools will be
rowing down Melton Hill Lake on a 2000meter course for the C-USA Championship
So if you're either on the Greenville, N.C., Houston, Texas,
or Oak Ridge, Tenn. areas come on down to our respective championship. If not,
check out our Championship
Central page for all the updates your heart desires. We're here to give you
the most possible information we can, incessant tweeting included.
The Hyphen will be back for an early edition Tuesday with a
recap of our Winning Weekend, so be on the lookout. Of course, comments and
suggestions are always welcome.
Welcome back to Don't Forget the Hyphen where we give you
C-USA news and notes, insight into Conference goings-on, and where we always
challenge that you Don't Forget the Hyphen. This week's edition features the
quest for domination of the Sunshine State, Rice's new 900-number, and Memphis Tiger Chad Zurcher's sweet 'stache. It's time for some C-USA Baseball action.
As we embark on the diamond journey this weekend, it's
important to note that this year C-USA Baseball is winning just as much out of
conference as it is competitive in conference play. Here are some facts to
ponder from C-USA's baseball guru, Russ Anderson:
**C-USA teams are 113-32 (.779) at
home in non-conference play this season, but just 33-39 (.458) at home vs.
**Four C-USA teams are in the top 30
of the current RPI (Southern Miss - 15, Rice - 19, East Carolina - 25, UCF
-29). Only the SEC (8) and ACC (6) have more. Seven C-USA teams are
in the top 60.
**Three weekends remain in one of the
tightest races in C-USA history. Of the 72 conference games played so
far, more than one-third (25) have been decided by just one run.
**Of the 24 conference series that
have played in C-USA in 2011, just four have ended in three-game sweeps.
All others have ended two-of-three.
**Conference USA's overall
non-conference record of 161-92 (.636) is the best in league history.
I don't know about you, but those are some spicy baseball
stats. Ok, on to this weekend's matchups.
UCF at (6)Florida St. - UCF has already swept No. 5Florida
this year and in the weekend's only non-conference series, the Knights go
Top Ten territory againin Tallahassee to
face the No. 6 Seminoles--the first time since the 2004 NCAA Regional in
Tallahassee. The Seminoles and Knights have faced five common opponents in 2011
- Maine, Boston College, Miami, Stetson and Florida. The Knights are 5-1
against common foes, including a 2-0 mark against Florida, with their lone
blemish coming in a 4-1 loss at Miami. The `Noles are 10-3 against common foes,
including a 3-1 mark against UF and 2-1 record against UM.
Key Players to
- Senior IF Jonathan Griffin led UCF
in batting last week at .455 (5-for-11), launching his league-leading 12th
home run of the season and driving in four runs.
-Junior RHP Danny Winkler struck out a
career-high 11 batters with just one walk in a tough-luck loss to Houston on
Sunday. He allowed one run on seven hits over six innings. Winkler's 11
strikeouts were the most by a UCF pitcher this season.
-Junior LHP Sean Gilmartin is climbing the
Seminole records books. His 7-1 record and 1.48 ERA (over 79.0 innings) ranks
among the best by a Seminole pitcher in a season. Gilmartin's 87 strikeouts
against just 14 walks (6.21) is ahead of the single-season Strikeouts-to-Walks
record held by Jeff Hill (6.00, 1969).
-Florida State Junior James Ramsey extended his career-high and ACC-leading hitting streak to 23 games
with his ninth-inning single in Tuesday's 8-5 win at Jacksonville. It was the
second consecutive game he needed a ninth-inning hit to extend the streak. It
is the longest streak of any ACC player this season and ranks fourth nationally
entering the UCF series
ECU at Marshall - Sir Isaac Newton never played
baseball (I'm sure he would have if it had been invented at the time) but his
first law couldn't apply more-so than to this series--Every object in a state of
uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force
is applied to it. ECU's eminent pitching will be challenged by Marshall's
escalating hitting this weekend. The Pirates' team ERA of 2.45 is seventh in
the nation and in their four games last week, the starting pitching allowed
just 10 runs in 18.2 innings of work. ECU Senior Pitcher Seth Maness is
the nation's active leader in pitching victories with 34. Marshall will give them a good challenge
as the Herd team hit .439 (50-114), reached base at a .522 clip and produced a
.754 slugging percentage. The team batting average improved from .266 to .280
last weekend at Memphis thanks to their hot hitting at FedEx Park. Marshall
outscored Memphis 36-18, and collected 19 extra-base hits, 10 doubles, one
triple, and eight home-runs.
UAB at (12)Southern Miss - UAB is having their best
pitching in years, led by Dillon Napoleon and Ryan Wooley, but will be tested
by Conference leader No. 12 Southern Miss. And while the Blazers are hot on the
mound, Southern Miss's RHP Geoffrey Thomas will attempt to become the first
C-USA pitcher this season to record 10 victories.
Key Players to Watch
-Southern Miss OF Marc Bourgeois hit
safely in three of four games last week. He started the week with a 2-for-4
performance against Alabama including a solo home run. After going hitless in
series opener at ECU, Bourgeois went 3-fo-4 against the Pirates last Saturday
with a double and a grand slam homer in the fifth which broke open a scoreless
game. He now leads the team in hitting with a .380 batting average with 10
doubles, two triples, seven homers and 31 RBI.
-UAB 3B Andrew Manning hit .444 (4-for-9)
with one home run and three RBI against
-UAB OF Jamal Austin hit .400 (6-for-15)
and scored four runs against the Green Wave. He currently ranks among the
league leaders with a .362 batting average and 20 stolen bases.
Rice at Houston - This intra-city rivalry is not just
competing for bragging rights to own the key to Houston, but also for second
place in C-USA standings in the Silver Glove Series (no,
not this one). Both teams are 9-6 in C-USA play, but Rice has the upper
silver-glove hand with an overall record of 29-16 over Houston's 22-23. If Rice
wins tonight, they will give Head Coach Wayne Graham his 900th
victory. Way to go Coach, we've enjoyed every minute of it, especially here. UH is coming off
one of their best pitching weekends when LPH Jordan Lewis pitched a complete
game shutout against UCF last Saturday. With that kind of pitching up against
one of baseball's most talented hitters this year in Anthony Rendon, it will
definitely be a battle for that fun little Silver Glove.
KeyPlayers to Watch
-Houston's LPH Jordan Lewis pitched a
complete game shutout against UCF last Saturday (as mentioned above), allowing
just six hits and just one of those was an extra base hit. Lewis struck out
seven batters in the career-long outing and had just one walk. In five C-USA
starts, the Apr. 26 C-USA Pitcher of the Week
has allowed just five earned runs (seven total), with 26 strikeouts in 35.2
-Rice's 3B/DH Anthony Rendon leads the
Owls in batting at .350 and ranks second in C-USA in on-base percentage (.552),
thanks in part to a single-season league-record 62 walks. The 62 walks are a new single-season C-USA record and ar17 more
than any other D-I player entering this week's action.
Tulane - The two teams are fighting for C-USA Championship
seeding position as the Tigers head down to the Bayou. Both teams also need
wins to help their cases for NCAA at-large selections to the NCAA Championship.
Tulane has faced some tough-luck this season as their pitching staff incurred numerous injuries and left them short-handed, but back
is senior RHP Nick Pepitone who currently
leads C-USA in saves and is tied for eighth nationally. Tigers big man and
rising star in the national ranks Chad Zurcher leads the nation in batting
(.470) and on-base percentage (.557). He has reached base two or more times in
35 of the 42 games he has played in and has struck out just seven times this
Now that you've got the matchups. Lay back and get to know some C-USA baseball players:
Welcome to the Conference USA headquarters. I'm Nicole
Cartier and I will be your tour guide this afternoon. We are conveniently located in Irving, Texas. We are here to serve youall of your Conference USA daily needs. You want school updates? Done.
Sports updates? Already got it. Championships? Coming right up. (Literally) We
do our best to get you all of the broken records and awards that you can
possibly crave from each of our institutions. There are a handful of us here
who breathe college sports and walk through these office doors every day for
the betterment of all of our student-athletes and institutions. It's not work
if you love what you do, am I right?
Anyway, let me take you on a quick tour of our offices.
Now that you are familiar with our offices and feng shui to
motivate our ideas, allow me to introduce you to all of our departments. We
have six departments consisting of, and in no particular order, Sports
Services, Marketing, Compliance, Public and Media Relations, Business Affairs
and finally our Executive team including our Commissioner.
Sports Services are our champions. Really. They handle all
of our fine championships that you love to attend as well as administer the conference schedules, work with officials and much, much more. Specifically for Championships, as noted in the previous
blog post, they plan all year to make sure that our Championships go
above-and-beyond your expectations to produce the best possible competition for
our student-athletes. Take our Baseball Championship for example, it is being
held in Pearl, Miss. this year at Trustmark Park, home of the Mississippi Braves
of the minor leagues. A lot of planning must go into a championship to make
sure it is in compliance with NCAA standards, meets all the needs of our
coaches and athletes and also to make sure that everyone participating follows
the guidelines. All of our sports are different beasts when it comes to
planning a championship. Our football championship, consisting of just one game
between the East winner and West winner is completely different than our
Basketball championship, which is a tournament-style championship and has all
of our institutions playing. Going on to the services side, they create the conference schedules that we all anticipate; try putting together a 100 piece puzzle with only 12 shapes, very difficult! But they make it work and make it work wonderfully. Chris Woolard, the Associate Commissioner for Sports Services takes you into his world:
Next up we have Marketing. This isn't your
whip-up-a-flyer-and-post-on-the-telephone-pole type of marketing department. We
have 11 television markets to cater to and a handful of those are some pretty
major markets, i.e. Houston, Orlando, Dallas. As a sports fan, I always want to
watch my team play, no matter where I am. Marketing ensures that our schools
and sports can be viewed as much as possible through TV agreements, live
on-line streaming, etc. Marketing all ensures the promotion of our
Championships, sponsors and copyrights. We are Conference USA and we want
people to know it!
marketing department at C-USA is the most fun.We work with all 12 schools to promote all the great things going on
throughout the year in Conference USA.We interact with the fans as we promote our teams through TV, websites,
social media outlets and on-site at our Championship events."--Kelly Carney,
For compliance, I'm really not allowed to further
communicate on this. Kidding of course. Compliance makes sure that all of our
schools, sports and student-athletes abide by the rules as far as NCAA
regulations and academics. Compliance acts as the lawyer, reading regulations
cover to cover and memorizing it to ensure that we meet the proper academic and
athletic standards. We cross our Ts and dot our Is and we definitely don't
forget the hyphen.As Associate Commissioner for
Compliance and Academics Rob Phillipi puts it best:
"We support our schools by
making the complex simple, the simple practical and the practical possible!"
On the public side of things, we have our Media Relations
department. Wonder who will be C-USA player of the week? You'll hear it from
them. Want to know who broke the all-assist record and when? They'll tell ya.
Media relations puts out daily press releases and documents on all 20 of our sports,
as well as provide information on the most recent league standings, upcoming
events, each school's scores and schedules, etc. They create the media guides
at the beginning of each sports' season, weekly notebooks, and daily updates
after a game if one of our schools has played that night. It's pretty intense
especially when you have 20 sports to take care of; fall sports overlap winter
sports, and winter sports overlap spring sports. It's never-ending, even in the summer. Here is Courtney Morrison-Archer to greet you on the world of Public Affairs:
Next up let's take care of business, Business Affairs. This
is where all of the monetary distribution is done, the Bank of C-USA
so-to-speak. Budgets are created and implemented here, revenues are distributed
and ticket sales are monitored. You've got a receipt needing taken care of,
submit the form here. Assistant Commissioner for Business Affairs Catrina
Gibson very kindly sums it up here:
Last and definitely not least is our Executive team with our
Commissioner Britton Banowsky and Executive Associate Commissioner Judy MacLeod.
They oversee all of the conference responsibilities and make sure that C-USA is
doing their best to uphold and better the key values of our institutions and
athletics. Any big changes happening in C-USA? Are there new innovations to
better the brands of our schools? They are behind the planning and
implementation of those changes to make sure that our schools are respectfully
represented in the NCAA.
So, you are now part of the C-USA Headquarters family. I
hope you have enjoyed your time with us today. Be sure to be back soon and as
usual, comments and suggestions are always welcome.
Welcome to "Don't Forget the Hyphen"! Conference USA's new
and improved official blog site.
We decided to change from the previous name of "Cartier
Watch" to "Don't Forget the Hyphen" for a couple of reasons. One, this
new name has a very important meaning to Conference USA as the "hyphen"
regularly gets forgotten in many stories, comments, what-have-you; the Hyphen
is an important and vital part of our family here at C-USA. And two, we just
want to make sure you DON'T FORGET THE HYPHEN! See reason number one. Hyphen,
meet the world. World, meet the Hyphen. Ok, we are all now acquainted with one
another. Let's get down to business.
For the Hyphen's first go-around, we'd like to take you into
the world of Conference USA Championships. In the next two weeks, C-USA will be
hosting four Conference Championships in Women's Golf, Men's Golf, Women's
Tennis and Men's Tennis. Many of our institutions have already done a fantastic
job hosting our Championships this year: Tulsa hosted Cross Country, Men's
Soccer was in Memphis, UCF hosted Women's Soccer and Football, Houston welcomed
Swimming & Diving and Indoor Track & and Fieldand UTEP hosted
our Men's and Women's Basketball Championships.
As a conference, we have the honor to put on events that
showcase our student-athletes' bring-it-all-or-nothing performances for the
chance at being the "Best in Conference USA." Throughout
the year, you hear buzz about starting conference play, strength of conference
performance and conference rivalries. All of those things lead up to Conference
USA Championships. We get to see all of our student-athletes' seasons of work,
sweat, aches, pains, tears of joy, tear of heartache and buzzer beaters pay off
in just those few days of competition where we crown an athlete or team as
Conference USA Champion. Don't you just love it??
In my experience working with C-USA Championships, it's
always remarkable how much emotion plays a key part of a performance. Of course
talent and will make up that majority, but none-the-less, emotion will always
be present as these student-athletes cheer for each other, support each other
and really drive each other to succeed. I was in awe at our Cross Country
Championships at just the amount of positive attitudes each runner had not just
for his or her teammate, but for everyone. There were Tulsa runners cheering
for Memphis runners and Rice runners cheering for UTEP runners and runners
cheering for other runners. It really made me want to get out there and run with
them! The point here is that Championships are a special thing to see
because it brings together all of our institutions, not just two teams at a
conference game you might see in season play. There's really something to
witness when your school is competing for a championship. And, the atmosphere
you bring as a fan is definitely part of that emotion as well.
Of course we all love watching the championships to see who
will brag about being C-USA Champs this year, but there is so much work behind
putting on a successful event. Keisha Dunlap, Conference USA's Assistant
Commissioner for Sports Services, administers several sports championships
including women's basketball, swimming and diving, women's tennis, women's
golf, and softball. When asked about preparing for one of our championships,
this is her insight:
"A lot of work and pre-planning go
into putting on a successful Conference Championship. It's a year-long process
that includes a lot of communication with our host institutions. In most
sports, we select the championships sites many years in advance. We have the
opportunity to work closely with our administrators at our institutions as well
as their support staff and we also work closely with officials during our
Tulsa Cross Country Coach Steve Gully had the great
experience of hosting the C-USA Cross Country Championships. Not only did they
host, but his men's and women's team both walked away as 2010 C-USA Champions.
Hear what he had to say about being part of hosting a C-USA Championship:
We've got eight C-USA Championships this Spring starting this
weekend as 10 C-USA Women's Golf teams take over Gulf Shores, Ala. Athletes and spectators, we'd love to hear from you and how your
experience is going--take a photo or video and send it to us! What did you think
of our Basketball Championship Central page--with daily highlights, video blogs, live post game
pressers, photos, stats and quotes from our coaches and players? Anything you'd like to see added to our championship coverage for any sport? Let us know!
The next time you come to one of our
Championships, take a look around and observe the event surrounding you. A lot
of work has been put into creating a competitive atmosphere for our
student-athletes and we want to make sure they are ready to compete at their
highest level and that you have a great time watching them. After all, We Play for You!
Click here for information about C-USA Championships
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