Life is for the living. People will need to move on and move past the deadly pandemic and all of its restrictions and fears this coming sporting season. The living also bear scars from said event and lost some people and jobs and were scared and so that living will be compromised and it will all be decidedly different from the 2019 variety of living we all did then.
Welcome back sports fans. Die-hard CUSA fans are enjoying the Marshall men’s soccer title, and enjoying the baseball of ODU and Tech. Here at CR we focus on football and basketball 1.
The latest news is that in-person recruiting can happen again, and while that is exciting, the glut of players is creating a roster management nightmare for coaches. COVID-19 adjustments meant that so-called ‘super-seniors’ can don the old colors and suit up for the alma mater but that is at the expense of the high schoolers that would have come in. So if you are a coach who do you choose? Matts/Jacobs/Chrises that have been in the program? Or Jacobs/Joshes that are coming in ready to commit?
All signs point to the fact that the adjustment will cause an issue for about three years. The transfer portal is popular, and fairly soon coaches will have to find a way to deal with a guy on the roster that is more famous for his social media than his footballing prowess … and getting paid for it.
Whatever normal was before this year, it is not that now.
The CUSA football league is filled with new coaches with new schemes and (of course) new players. If you read the beat reports from spring camps, everyone got better and was working hard. Everyone was excited about the growth as a team.
Let’s walk through the league and give a top-level storyline at this point in time.
UAB: The defending champs are opening a new stadium and looking to continue to build on the championship win and the new era.
UTSA: Jeff Traylor had a sneaky good squad built on the run game last season and had a solid argument for deserving the west bid that went to UAB on winning percentage.
La Tech: Tech was in something like a rebuild season and had a lot of injuries that prevented the usual solid outing. Expect a bounce-back but with no obvious QB and stars it will be difficult to unseat UAB/UTSA
USM: The Golden Eagles had turmoil — three coaches in one season! — but have talent and a new coach who likes offense in Will Hall. This squad had offensive talent and should be able to hit the ground running.
UNT: Seth Littrell lost one of his starting QBs to transfer. His combo QB system produced league leading offense but his defense was just about the worst in the nation. He fired the someone in charge of that (third DC in three years) and hired a new guy. He also got more offensive talent to boot. If NT can defend they can win this division.
Rice: The Owls looked really good in beating Marshall on the road and nearly ending UAB’s bid near the end of last year. Dark horse candidate but they do not have obvious names in the dangerous places (QB, ahem) to get headlines.
UTEP: Well the good news is that there will be football. No, seriously, this program is in a rough spot and lost talent to the portal and does not necessarily recruit well. There is little money, little interest, and not a whole lot of talent.
Marshall: The defending division champs changed head coaches, and have lost a lot of talent to the transfer portal in the aftermath of said switch. Can Charles Huff be the level up that the brass wanted him to be? Or will he struggle to reach Doc Holliday heights?
FAU: The Owls were right there in a sneaky way. Willie Taggart is no Lane Kiffin and he was sometimes unfairly criticized for not stepping in a winning immediately.
WKU: The Toppers had a good season in Tyson Helton’s first season and then followed that up with some mediocre-ness. This year they have an exciting new OC, and the QB and WR duo that put up ridiculous numbers at Houston Baptist. Expect fireworks.
Charlotte: Will Healy is still the new hotness in the league and while the Niners did not replicate exactly his debut season they still show the kind of enthusiasm that Charlotte fans are excited about.
MTSU: The season was bad, and next year will be about keeping a job for Rick Stockstill. His reputation took a minor hit as his former long-time OC wrote a scathing blog post about the Middle pandemic reaction that made some waves. The talent is … well not there and it all does not look great.
FIU: Butch Davis’ squad underperformed expectations and suffered from a lot of pandemic-related losses. They have a new DC and are looking to getting back to defense-first, pro-developing ways.
ODU: Hey remember them? The Monarchs spent the year getting healthy and breaking in a new coach. They are banking on the potential energy of being without football for a year’s time.
We will have more on these storylines and the deeper ones as the offseason develops. Your favorite CR editor-in-chief welcomed a new kid into the family and so has been on dad-duty for a bit if you were wondering where all the blog posts went.
for reasons having to do with cash flow ↩