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CUSA Kickoff 2018 First Impressions

This year’s edition of the league’s media days is in Frisco. The league has moved the basketball championships here, and now the league’s kickoff event is here just across the street from where Marshall won the tournament trophy and Big 12 folks are gathering.

Frisco is much warmer than it was in March, but the town is still that slick, brand new, up-scale version of a host as it was then.

There are some concerns from the Eastern teams that the league is turning into C-FRISCO. Still, it makes sense. The city is close to the headquarters, and if it were more centrally located, it would not be an issue. Perhaps Birmingham can ask Jerry Jones to put a secondary Cowboys headquarters on the outskirts of town?

First Impressions:

FAU’s Lane Kiffin draws a crowd, and that is not only because he is a great quote, but also because of his soft, whisper delivery. Everyone gathered tighter to hear him maybe whisper a cutting joke about his time at Alabama.

UNT’s Mason Fine had a similar crowd around him for similar reasons. He is a great quote and an enthusiastic kid. His story is a good one, undersized, unwanted to the regining CUSA Offensive Player of the Year. He’s a QB and everyone loves QBs.

La Tech’s Skip Holtz is a league mainstay, and a willing talker. His team does not have the spotlight — North Texas was picked to win the West — but if you ask me, his team is the strongest from top to bottom. He had a quiet confidence about him, saying the right things, but he did note the returnees and how close Tech was to facing off against FAU in the title game.

UTEP’s Dana Dimel is very friendly and personable. He has not been beaten down with the grind of a struggling team just yet, however. He is positive, talks up his history of bringing up moribund teams “at Kansas State the first time, Houston, Wyoming.” He even “played at K-State when we were horrible, got to see how bad it was and got to see what coach did (Bill Snyder)” What are those things? “Unity, positive leadership, and working together as a unit, and expecting to win through great preparation.”

FIU’s Butch Davis, he of the great unheralded turnaround in Miami, was no stranger to this kind of thing. He discussed the particulars of rebuilding — “need a great assistant staff” — and acknowledged the difference from “say, following Nick Saban vs going into a place that has lost five years in a row.” There is a sense that FIU is under-the-radar again. Davis discussed the lack of awareness of Alex McGough last season and hinted there was a bit of the same in the pick of FIU to finish low in the East.

More to come as CUSA Report goes through all the audio and video from CUSA Kickoff 2018

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