With four football programs, North Texas, Texas San Antonio, Louisiana Tech, and FIU joining Conference USA next year, we review each teams 2012 season and their situation heading into the offseason.
Out of all the programs joining C-USA, La.Tech had the best 2012 season, accumulating a record of 9-3 while finishing third in the Western Athletic Conference. Despite their impressive record, the Bulldogs will not go bowling for what can only be described as odd circumstances.
When La.Tech plays their first C-USA game it will be under a new head coach. After leading the Bulldogs for three seasons Sunny Dykes was hired away by California-Berkley. Although a replacement has not been hired, candidates include Toledo’s Matt Campbell and Texas Tech offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury.
Whoever is selected as the next head coach, they will have a big job on their hands. La.Tech is losing 31 seniors to graduation including starting quarterback Colby Cameron who threw for 4,147 yards and 31 touchdowns this season.
Texas San Antonio
In their first season as a member of the WAC, Texas San Antonio put together a solid year, finishing with a .500 league record (3-3) and eight wins overall.
The Roadrunners were not particularly dominate in any one category but, they did a solid job across the board, ranking 47th among FCS programs in points scored per game (31.2) and 70th in points allowed (28.8) per game.
When UTSA enters C-USA they will do it with three players that were all WAC first or second team selections, linebacker Steven Kurfehs, offensive lineman Scott Inskeep, and defensive back Triston Wade. Starting quarterback Eric Soza also returns along with the running back duo of David Glasco II and Evans Okotcha.
In a surprise move FIU fired head coach Mario Cristobal last week. Cristobal lead the Golden Panthers to the school’s first Sun Belt Conference championship in 2010 and two bowl game appearances (2010 & 2011). FIU entered this season with high expectations but, a porous defense and multiple injuries on offense resulted in a 3-9 record.
The new coach at FIU will have a pair of quarterback to choose from, sophomore Jake Medlock and freshman E.J Hillard. Staring nine games, Medlock completed 152 of 263 attempts for 2,127 yards and 13 touchdowns to only two interceptions. A dual threat, he also rushed for 236 yards and three touchdowns. Although he only threw a pass in four games, Hillard impressed in the season finale against Louisiana-Monroe, completing 22 of 31 attempts for 226 yards and two touchdowns.
After finishing the season giving up an average of 31.7 points per game, the FIU defense needs a major overhaul. They also have a lot of holes to fill as the Golden Panthers are losing 12 defensive seniors to graduation.
North Texas had a difficult season, finishing 4-8 with a seventh place finish in the ten team Sun Belt Conference.
The Mean Green struggled on offense, only scoring 20.9 points per game. Taking every snap at quarterback, junior Derek Thompson threw just as many touchdowns, 14, as interceptions. The ground game was a bit better, returning running backs Brandin Byrd and Antoinne Jimmerson combine for 1,404 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.
North Texas carries two Sun Belt all second team performers into C-USA, linebacker Zach Orr and defensive back Zac Whitfield.