Even though his Charlotte 49ers won’t be playing in Conference USA until 2015, Brad Lambert will be heading down to his first conference media day on Wednesday. There, he’ll rub shoulders with the league’s other head coaches and get a feel of what the scene will be like once things kick into high gear in a couple of years. Don’t expect C-USA’s media day to be anywhere close to the circus that is the SEC, however.
So who is the team to beat in C-USA? The coaches think that it will be ECU (in the East) and Tulsa (in the West). There’s certainly a case to be made for both teams: the Pirates, coming off a 7-1 season and a trip to the New Orleans Bowl in 2012, return leading rusher Vintavious Cooper and signal caller Shane Carden, as well as top receiver and first-team all-conference pick Justin Hardy. The Hurricane, the defending league champions, return highly-touted running back Trey Watts to lead C-USA’s best rushing offense in 2012. Despite losing a number of their defensive starters from last season, their offense should keep them in many games.
Who’s the media favorite? We won’t find out until Wednesday or so, but it wouldn’t surprise us to see the writers dock Tulsa due to their missing parts on defense and leave ECU at top in the East. It will be interesting to see where they slot newcomers MTSU (3rd East in coaches poll), FAU (6th East), FIU (7th East), La. Tech (3rd West), North Texas (5th West) and UTSA (7th West).