Categories
Football Sunbelt Stuff

Bowling Chances 2012

After conference opponent Louisiana-Lafayette 30-23 on Tuesday the 16th, there have been rumblings about bowl-eligibilty. Of course, if you have been reading MGN, you know the deal.

North Texas’ record is at 3-4 (2-1). There are five games remaining — all Sun Belt matchups. Here are the standings:

  1. ULM 3-0, 5-2
  2. WKU 2-1, 5-2
  3. UNT 2-1, 3-4
  4. ULL 2-1, 4-2
  5. ArkSt 2-1, 4-3
  6. MTSU 2-1, 4-3
  7. Troy 3-2, 4-3
  8. USA 1-2, 2-5
  9. FAU 0-4, 1-6
  10. FIU 0-4, 1-7

Our schedule is this:

at MTSU 10/27 2:30pm ESPN3
vs ArkSt 11/3 4:00pm
vs USA 11/10 4:00pm
at ULM 11/17 TBD
at WKU 11/24 Noon ESPN3

The road to conference supremacy is laid out before us: win all the games. It won’t be easy but they let you play them one at-a-time. These first two against MTSU and ArkSt seperate UNT from that middle pack. The USA game will be a test of focus. The final two will be de facto playoff games.

The Belt is very winnable. This offense is built for upsets. Our 44th-ranked rushing offense can control the ball, Antoinne Jimmerson, Brelan Chancellor and Jeremy Brown can score from anywhere on the field. The defense has shut down some really good offenses.

The biggest concerns are those that we have every week: Will the opponent shut down the run game like FAU did? Will Derek Thompson have a sub-50% passing game like vs Troy? Will the defense lay an egg like they did vs Houston? Will Zach Olen have another nightmare game (Troy)?

The good news: We haven’t had huge swings in performance. Derek Thompson and the passing game picked up the load when the run game was getting stuffed in Boca. Against Houston, the offense put up 489 yards and 21 points. UNT was within ten twice. In a normal game, this should be near enough to win. Against, ULL the defense shut down the 19th ranked rush offense five straight times in the third and fourth quarters. The offense scored three touchdowns and a field goal.

This is the ideal scenario. Dan McCarney wants 31 points a game from the offense. When the pass game is clicking (not just screens and dump offs on 3rd and 8) this thing can easily score that many.

Too long; didn’t read:

We have a shot to win the conference. Middle Tennesee is better than the team we destroyed to end last year and will be looking for revenge at home.

Arkansas State has underperformed compared to last season and they hype surrounding Gus Malzahn. They are well-coached and dangerous.

South Alabama is terrible. They should not be taken lightly, however.

ULM can score in bunches and quickly. I expect this team to be on par with Houston. They run similar offenses and have good coaches that like to take calculated chances. Our defense will have their hands full. Our offense will have to score a lot and control the clock. This will be crazy tough.

WKU is good. They lost in OT to ULM after Kolton Browning threw the two-point conversion to win it. They were the class of the conference coming into the year, and haven’t showed any signs of slowing.

Categories
Sunbelt Stuff

Soccer are Sun Belt Regular Season Champs

Mean Green Soccer is ballin’ yo.

As is the case with most non-major sports, this group is undersold. They are consistently good and if you know what your’e looking for, entertaining.

They finish as the regular season champs, face WKU on Sunday in Kentucky. The SBC Tournament begins Wednesday, October 31st in Mobile, Alabama.

Categories
Sunbelt Stuff

Of Red Wolves and Razorbacks

Go read this post by ASU alum (I’m fairly sure) and Arkansas resident Angry Czeck. The guy is hilarious usually. This post is just interesting though.

// Angry Czeck

ASU fans were accustomed to the blind eye given to the Red Wolves by state media. The lone statewide newspaper, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, notoriously buried ASU news. When Malzahn was hired, the paper’s lead story was not “What an Amazing Hire for ASU” but “How is ASU Going to Pay for Malzahn?”

The media’s unvarnished, shameless favoritism for one school was so unconcealed it was nearly a parody of itself. For example, Little Rock based KARK Channel 4 centered its entire sports segment exclusively to the Razorbacks. NO COVERAGE FOR ANY SCHOOL BUT ONE! KATV Channel 7 wasn’t much better, bearing an online tagline of “Breaking news, weather, and Razorback sports.” Bear in mind that Little Rock is home to UALR and is within a stone’s throw of the University of Central Arkansas. But only the Razorbacks are worthy of coverage.

This blatant favoritism made it difficult enough to be a Red Wolves fan. Dyer’s failure to stick with ASU shook the faith of the faithful. Perhaps the Razorback monopoly was right; the Red Wolves would never compete with its favored brother.

Categories
Sunbelt Stuff

Sun Belt Week Five 2012

Well I’m not feeling any better about the prospects of winning the conference. That isn’t because the win over FAU was bad. It is because the rest of the Belt looked so good this week. Let’s take a tour shall we?

MTSU 49 v Ga Tech 28

Ah this was probably the headline of the week. Somehow, someway the Blue Raiders went over to the deep south and whooped up on a former ACC champ and looked good doing it. The running game is looking beastly, as Benny Cunningham ran for 217 yards and five scores. That is right, ya’ll. The guy with the crazy rushing stats plays for MT and not GT. I made fun of them earlier this season, but it looks like they have a nice little squad now. Formidable foe?

Troy 31 v South Alabama 10

Oh those Jags. They just aren’t having a good year. Even after picking off Corey Robinson three times, they couldn’t get out of their own way. They simply cannot pass the ball. We play them Nov 10th. Can’t wait. Should be a defensive feast before Thanksgiving.

Louisiana Monroe 63 v Tulane 10

So when did ULM go out and get an explosive offense? They don’t just look scrappy anymore. They were in a shootout with Baylor before WVU made it cool. Kolton Browning threw for 253 yards and three scores and DaVontae McNeal added 114 yards and one score on the ground. Most impressive was the defense . . . if you think stopping Tulane is impressive. They are last in the nation in scoring offense, total offense, and rushing offense. They rank 108th in passing offense. So that’s nice.

ULM is top 20 in passing, total offense and scoring offense (322, 519, 42) by the way. I’m a little scared. Our defense stood up to K-State and Troy but if this ULM team puts us in a shoot out? Well I don’t thin we have enough bullets.

Florida International 20 v Louisiana Lafayette 48

How the mighty have fallen. Seems without TY Hilton in their fold they can’t beat the likes of lowly ULL. No seriously, FIU can move the ball some — nothing amazing but they are moving it — but only scores about 26ppg. That’d be a winning formula if they had any kind of defense. They allowed ULL 501 yards including 187 on the ground. ULL is looking decent and is 2-0 in the conference and 3-1 overall. FIU is 0-1, 1-4. I think the conference power has re-focused in Louisiana and left Florida behind.

Western Kentucky 26 vs Arkansas State 13

Hey now. Remember how we all thought ASU was going to continue their run Hugh Freeze had them on? Well it hasn’t quite happened just yet. Western Kentucky is the class of the conference (at least until we see them against ULM) and battled back to beat ASU on the road after being down 13. Something tells me Malzahn doesn’t have the same kind of magic without guys like Cam Newton and Darren McFadden . . .

I don’t know how WKU is winning these games. I haven’t been watching closely but they look like they are the kind of team that wins ugly. They are the most dangerous kind of squad because when they do when they do it while making you think you could have done better. Which leaves you feeling regret. Call their style the Bane method.

Next Week’s Matchups:

  • Arkansas St visits FIU on Thursday Night (10.4.12) on ESPNU
  • ULM travels to MTSU –ESPN3
  • Tulane will get beat at ULL –ESPN3
  • We take on Houston in Houston!! (NO TV!?)

Conference Standings:

  1. ULL 2-0, 3-1
  2. WKU 1-0, 4-1
  3. MTSU 1-0, 3-1
  4. Troy 2-1, 3-2
  5. North Texas 1-1, 2-3
  6. ULM 0-0, 2-2
  7. ASU 0-1, 2-3
  8. FIU 0-1, 1-4
  9. USA 0-1, 1-4
  10. FAU 0-2, 1-4

 

Categories
Sunbelt Stuff

Sun Belt Week Four 2012

In this, the last year of the Sun Belt (thank god) we have a chance to win the thing despite what the negative types are saying. Let us take a look around at what happened:

ULM 42 v Baylor 47

You might know this game as the only compelling Sun Belt matchup to outsiders, well ever. The bastards from Monroe have  become America’s darling after their “upset” of that self-destructing Arkansas team and subsequent close defeats at Auburn and home to Baylor. They have spunk and can score. They are 1-2 entering conference play . . . just like we were coming into this weekend. If you want to crown their ass then crown them.

Florida Atlantic (next opponent!) 7 vs Alabama 40

Ah FAU. They are terrible but they did end Alabama’s shutout streak. So I guess there’ll be a parade in Boca. That is, if they can be pried away from shuffleboard (rimshot!). I’ll be here all week, folks. Seriously, that is a bad squad that should be taken apart by this Mean Green running game.

Western Kentucky 42 vs Southern Miss 17

Eek. That is looking like a monster team there. Southern Miss isn’t as great as they used to be but they are CUSA so they presumably have some kind of advantage. Supposedly Kentucky did too but the Hilltoppers took care of them the week before. Our matchup with them is the last game of the year, so hopefully they slow down some.

South Alabama 10 Miss St 30

The Jags are bad. Losing to #23 Miss St isn’t shameful, but barely squeaking a win out over Nicholls is. So is losing to UTSA at home. It is going to be a long season for them. We play them Nov 10th.

Arkansas State 56 vs Alcorn St 0

Warm up game. This is the kind of beating that UNT should have put on Tx Southern but whatevs. After having lost to Oregon and Nebraska pretty badly, and looking good against Memphis, the thinking is that this warm up game is good preparation for the big SBC matchup with WKU this coming week. Or is it bad preparation?

Florida International 21 vs Louisville 28

Oh FIU. You showed such promise and were filled with such potential. They, not ULM, were supposed to be the attention grabbing squad. Still, hanging with #20 is also a nice moral victory. I wonder how it stacks up to our two.

MTSU, ULL – bye

Next Week’s Matchups:

  • Middle Tenneseee away to Georgia Tech. – ESPN3
  • Troy visits South Alabama – ESPN3
  • ULM away to Tulane
  • UNT visits FAU –ESPN3!
  • FIU goes to ULL ESPN3
  • WKU visits on ASU ESPN3

Standings after week four

Conference Overall
School W L W L W-L%
Louisiana-Lafayette 1 0 2 1 .667
Middle Tennessee State 1 0 2 1 .667
Troy 1 1 2 2 .500
Florida Atlantic 0 1 1 3 .250
North Texas 0 1 1 3 .250
Western Kentucky 0 0 3 1 .750
Arkansas State 0 0 2 2 .500
Louisiana-Monroe 0 0 1 2 .333
Florida International 0 0 1 3 .250
South Alabama 0 0 1 3 .250
Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CFB: View Original Table
Generated 9/24/2012.
Categories
CUSA Stuff Sunbelt Stuff

CUSA Thoughts

Well, although nothing has been made official, it looks like we are going to the CUSA with UTSA in tow. There is still lots of complaining about the situation, with the best comment being this from gmg.com:

It’s like busting your ass for years to get that big executive promotion. The day finally comes, only you find out some 19-year-old intern was just named VP as well.

It feels like that is true, but the circumstances are markedly different. This isn’t 1998, anymore. In this soon-to-be-post-BCS world, where Boise St, TCU, UConn and Hawaii got into the Fiesta, Sugar, Rose Bowls.

There is a ton of money floating around that split open old conference allegiances. It is much easier to move up and around than ever. UTSA, UNC Charlotte and Texas State would never have been able to make the jump in the old-pre internet era.

Now, with technology fueling the popularity of college football and even more money to be spread around causing more shifts, we have moved up. Finally.

As much as we hate the situation, we can only embrace the good. Use the resentment of the young bucks as fan hate fuel. Unleash it when UTSA makes a trip up to Apogee sometime in Fall 2013.

The move, in comparison to the Roadrunners, doesn’t minimize the awesome improvements Rick Villareal and company have made. We didn’t do very well for most of the history under the old rules, under these new television-money-driven ones? Well, we are doing better.

We have an awesome on-campus stadium with very good facilities in a fertile recruiting market. We don’t need to compete with Texas, Oklahoma for recruits, and we already have a leg up on the second tier SMUs of the world.

Remember Tony Mitchell? Yeah. How about George Odufuwa? Roger Franklin?

We have a nice little tradition of bringing in DFW guys after their first choice fell through. There is even another one to speculate about. Hint.

Everything is looking up. We are going to a slightly more prestigious conference and angling for a nice little television deal that could bring in enough money to even do baseball, yo.

In tangentally related news, we could have been in MTSU’s position. Apparently, their president was all-but sabotaging what looked like a certain move, which may have paved the way for UTSA to step in. It is all speculation at this point, so I won’t link to anything.

If true, it would explain the seemingly inexplicable UTSA invite. However, as Coach Dan McCarney’s nephew, Dan McCarney says, nothing is absolute until we get official announcements.

Categories
CUSA Stuff General Sunbelt Stuff

Board of Regents gives Lane Rawlins Permission to Move to CUSA

Via Bret Vito:

The North Texas board of regents delegated authority to president Lane Rawlins to examine the school’s options in conference alignment and quickly move to a new league should the opportunity present itself Wednesday night.

That is the official line. We all know that there would not have been any special teleconferences called to address this matter if there weren’t an offer made behind the scenes, though.

Everyone is betting that CUSA was going to offer UNT a spot in the league and most scenarios and predictions include us, as well. I heard whispers about this from the athletic department with no official statements to back anything up.

This is the most we’ve heard on these rumors from the school yet. Rick Villareal like to play it close to the vest, huh?

Stay tuned for more.

Categories
Basketball Football Sunbelt Stuff

Johnny Jones Leaves, Info Dump

It is about 10:34am here in Texas. Some things are happening that will tremendously affect your enjoyment of fall sports. Johnny Jones took the job at LSU. The football team is battling through spring practice, trying to find guys that can play defensive back. The women’s basketball team is searching for a coach to replace Karen Alston, who left for Texas.

Last week North Texas basketball was dripping with potential until Johnny Jones, architect of the greatest period of sustained success in school history left the program for his alma mater where he played and coached for 17 years from 1980 to 1997. The most interesting thing about JJ’s resume? The fact that he has had success wherever he has been. Even at little old North Texas. Probably especially here. Those LSU teams reached won a lot and recruited good players (Shaq).

In 11 seasons at North Texas, Jones put up a 190-146 record, went to the tournament twice and reached the SBC title game another two. He found a way to drink the milkshake of talent-rich Dallas-Fort Worth and bring some of those guys to Denton. The result? The team has Chris Jones, Jordan Williams and future NBA player Tony Mitchell on the roster — the most stacked team in school history. That is no knock on other teams that went on to win SBC titles. Those teams just weren’t getting NBA scouts lining the arena, however. Guile and gumption and effort win games (sometimes) but they don’t always create a buzz around town. This team looked poised to make some noise.

The question we are faced with is this: What happens now? Ironically, Johnny Jones’ greatest legacy may be tested after he is gone. Whereas other coaches in the Mean Green Pantheon(Fry, Dickey and uh . . I’ll get back to you) all left their programs of note to fend for themselves or in disarray, Johnny Jones leaves the program at its height.

The scariest prospect facing us: Players bolt, leaving the roster bare and we hire an unproven coach to try to fill it and maintain the momentum. Basketball is a funny game. Any program is at any time just one difference-maker away from glory. That means it can be just one defection away from mediocrity. Scary proposition, y’all.

The best realistic scenario: Shawn Forrest, the recruiting maestro that orchestrated the signings of Tony Mitchell, Chris Jones, and Jordan Williams and also courted by Bruce Weber at K-State takes the helm and we don’t skip a beat. Problem with this one? Well we don’t know how Shawn Forrest does with a clipboard. We know he can bring ‘em in but can he coach ‘em up? You can overwhelm less talented squads with the awesome power of a fully operational Tony Mitchell and company but a well-coached team of talented players can compete with any team in the nation.

Worst case sub-scenario? Everything seems fine until Forrest realizes he’d rather be the assistant than the head man.

Best case sub-scenario? Forrest is a diamond-on-the-folding-chair and we have a hell of a season, yo.
Other: We hire some guy I’ve never heard of, go out in the SBC tourney after an up-and-down season where non-basketball bandwagoners complain that Tony Mitchell was not clutch and that Johnny Jones would have led this team to 30 wins and dammit things were better in 1975.

In any case, we should be happy that this is happening. Much the same way you want a wife/girlfriend/mistress/person/dude/boyfriend/sugar daddy/etc to be worthy of envy and jealousy, so you want your coach worthy of stealing by his SEC money-bags alma mater.

Football

I haven’t been closely following Spring Practice 2012. It is vital to a program and probably worthy of the time and effort of following. I don’t get paid for doing this though, and I’m 200 miles away at the moment. To rectify this problem I have been reading subject-of-scorn-and-vitriol-and-beat-writer Bret Vito’s blog, as should you. The things I noticed? My favorite UNT player to follow on twitter, Marcus Trice, is balling, yo. He is picking off passes, making plays, returning kicks and doing everything you’d expect from a guy that got recruited (and playing time) at Norman, OK. That’s the good. The bad? Well Freddie Warner is out with a torn ACL. He was the starter and a guy everyone was going to rely on for leadership and solid play.

Now we are left with a bunch of new guys, transfers, and dudes with no playing time on their resume to carry the load. Xavier Kelly, if he wants more hits on his website, will need to step up and do good things.

Apogee’s inaugural season was not a home run. It was something like a double that probably should have been a triple but wasn’t because of poor baserunning. The Texas Rangers stole our thunder, and thunder, lightening, and rain stole some more. Our best player, Lance Dunbar, played his best game in a drenched stadium with a lot of empty seats to see him off.

A double is a double, however (to stretch the analogy thin) and we shouldn’t be playing What If anymore. Conferences, they are alliance-ing and we might (will?) be joining the MWC/CUSA Bowl Alliance J-Pop Fun Time soon. From friend-of-the-blog and Coach Dan McCarney nephew, Dan McCarney of MySa.com:

I did speak today with a non-administration source at one of the prime candidates who is hearing that North Texas, Utah State and Florida International are pretty much done deals in terms of membership, regardless of league affiliation.

I’m inclined to take all speculation with a nice saltine cracker. I’d just like to see more televised games (road and home) and a decent enough conference rival. I’ve mentioned on the Coker Chronicles Podcast that having UTSA as a rival for UNT would be aces, kid. It would stoke the flames of a rather heated dislike the two fan bases have for one another already. The interconnectedness of the alumni, cities, and situations is what makes for good, healthy rivals. I’m rooting for that to happen so I could at least see UNT here in SA at the Alamodome, at the very least.

That isn’t going to happen next season, however. The best rumor I’ve heard involves Gus Malzahn leaving Arkansas State and heading to Arkansas (again). You may remember he got the Arkansas OC job as part of the packaged deal that brought Mitch Mustain back when Houston Nutt was still coaching there. Mustain transferred, Nutt was fired and Malzahn moved on to Auburn. Auburn (thanks to Cam Newton) had tremendous success and now Gus is heading up Arkansas State. He is and was the guy we hoped we were getting with Todd Dodge. Yes, we got the Ryan Leaf in that scenario.

His first recruiting class is highly touted, Ark St is coming off a great year thanks to the departed-to-Ole Miss, Hugh Freeze, and they just look damned scary. Our secondary needs rebuilding and our defense has question marks. We lost our best offensive weapon. I feel like we are in store for some drubbings this season. That may be my inner-Eeyore talking, though. If Ol’ Gus takes the Arkansas State job, I won’t be sad.

Transfer News: Brock Berglund, late of Kansas, is sniffing around our program and “considering his options.” He is big, and very quarterback-looking, apparently.

I’m always glad to get good players but I’m pretty confident in Derek Thompson, guys.

In Blog News: I still am planning to do a Mean Green Nation Podcast. I’ve been busy at work, and in life so cut me some slack guys. Stay tuned.

Categories
Sunbelt Stuff

MTSU Lineman is Dealing

From Doc Saturday:

Bailey was arrested Feb. 16 and charged with possession of a schedule VI drug with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. Officers found nearly a pound of marijuana – 27.9 grams in a plastic bag in his dirty clothes hamper, five glass jars weighing 322.5 grams and another 6.2 grams of hash – and $3,000 in cash. Police also found scales, a grinder and a vaporizer.
Murfreesboro Police spokesman Kyle Evans told the Daily News Journal that Bailey told police he, “used his scholarship money as startup money for his illegal drug sales business.”

The former player was injured and was just riding the rest of his scholly out. No damage done to the program aside from the obvious reputation scar.

Categories
Sunbelt Stuff

Mega Conference Talk

So we are going to the CUSAMWC Super conference? Well it seems like it. The big news today is that the leftovers of the rest of the conference announced an alliance. Bret Vito says UNT officials are going to be mum on the situation.

It makes sense. The administration is trying to look all cool and stuff by rebuffing advances of the Karl Bensen-led WAC and pretending it loves the current situation.

I don’t love being in a conference with FIU, FAU, or really, if pressed, with MTSU. I’ve long advocated a more regional conference. Pretty much everyone is cool with it except for some old-schoolers who think we should automatically level up to the Texas Longhorns present the Big XII (now with less Aggie).

Going into the Texas division of the Conference USA/MWC/Sun Belt Monster Conference presented by Southwest Airlines would be … fine. I suppose. We probably would have to make some kind of weird trip out to Florida or Hawaii anyway but that is kind of cool. I know a few of you made it out to Miami for the football opener last year and had a blast. Trips are cool. A nice drive down I-35 to San Antonio/San Marcos would be a pretty damn sweet.

Nothing has happened yet. I don’t like speculating on conference realignment because it is such a mess. The good news, like always, is that we are in a much more tenable position than we have been at any point in the last decade. Better facilities, better stadium, good baskebtall team, name coach, right track.

By the way, I don’t know how I feel about the new branding stuff. Ugh.

GMG