Will the new C-USA teams succeed or fail?

Posted by PATRICK MAGEE on July 2, 2013 

Conference USA officially welcomed eight new members on Monday, and many of the schools don't inspire much excitement from fans of the league's remaining programs.

Some of the new schools will jump right in and compete in most sports while others will have a hard time keeping up with the rest of the league.

The new schools are: Texas-San Antonio, Louisiana Tech, Old Dominion, North Texas, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee State and Charlotte.

Let's take a look at how these schools might fair in their new home:

TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO

* Football - The Roadrunners will compete much sooner than many expect and will likely draw some of the biggest home crowds in the league at the Alamodome. It will probably take two to three years, but UTSA will be bowl-bound at some point.

* Basketball - Two years removed from an NCAA Tournament bid, UTSA will likely be in the bottom half of the league coming off a 10-22 season.

* Baseball - The Roadrunners won the 2013 WAC baseball tournament and should be somewhere in the middle of C-USA in 2014.

* Other: Nothing really stands out in the other sports.

LOUISIANA TECH

* Football - The Bulldogs would've been one of the top teams in Conference USA in recent seasons. Coach Sonny Dykes is now at California, but his replacement, Skip Holtz, is a proven winner in C-USA. I don't expect La. Tech to fall off much in its first C-USA season.

* Basketball - I'm sure C-USA didn't bank on the Bulldogs offering much in men's basketball when they were first considered as a C-USA member, but coach Michael White has done a great job in Ruston. However, don't expect La. Tech to repeat its 27-7 and 16-2 mark from 2012-13 in C-USA. The Bulldogs have the potential to finish in the top four in C-USA in 2013-14.

* Baseball - Louisiana Tech has been traditionally average at best in the sport, but it was bad in 2013 with a record of 19-37. It should get up to speed at some point in C-USA, but it's unlikely Tech will be winning championships anytime soon.

* Other: The women's basketball program is traditionally one of the best in the country.

OLD DOMINION

* Football - The Monarchs won't join Conference USA until 2014, but the new program has been very successful in its four years of existence. ODU has at least eight wins in each of its four seasons. ODU is located in a recruiting hotbed, and it should compete early in C-USA.

* Basketball - A traditionally strong program was terrible in 2013 with a 5-25 record, forcing the ouster of head coach Blaine Taylor. Don't expect the Monarchs to be down long. ODU has a nice new facility and should recruit with ease under new head coach Jeff Jones.

* Baseball - Old Dominion has been OK in the sport, but will likely have a hard time early in C-USA.

* Other: The ODU women's basketball team is top notch.

NORTH TEXAS

* Football - The Mean Green haven't been anything better than average for quite some time. It's hard to see North Texas not finishing in the bottom half of the C-USA West this season, but Dan McCarney is a good coach.

* Basketball - Former coach Johnny Jones built a strong program in Denton, but it faltered in 2012-13 after he left to take the top job at LSU. UNT had a disappointing 12-20 record in head coach Tony Benford's first season. However, Benford has a good staff and decent facilities. North Texas will fight to get into the top half of C-USA.

* Baseball - Despite several reports that North Texas is moving toward creating a baseball program, it has yet to materialize.

* Other: The men's golf program is good.

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL

* Football - "Doomed" is the first word that comes to mind. The Panthers were in a good position with coach Mario Cristobal, but they fired him. I'm still not sure why that happened. FIU will likely struggle in the early going.

* Basketball - Under the direction of Richard Pitino (the legend's son), FIU was on the rise in basketball. After Pitino's departure to Minnesota after one year, it seems like FIU made a good hire in former Norfolk State coach Anthony Evans. FIU will likely be in the bottom half the league, but should at least hold its own in the first year or two.

* Baseball - FIU has been a traditionally strong baseball team and that should continue in C-USA.

* Other: The men's soccer program has competed on a national level at times.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC

* Football - While FIU takes a dip in the sport, FAU should be on a gradual rise in Carl Pelini's second season. It's unlikely the Owls will do much in C-USA over the next two years, but a new stadium provides hope for the future.

* Basketball - FAU has never been very good in basketball, but it does have an established coach in Mike Jarvis, who is entering his sixth year on the job. Unless there is a drastic change in fortune for the Owls, they will probably struggle in C-USA.

* Baseball - The Owls had an impressive season in 2013, coming up just short of winning the Super Regional at North Carolina. FAU finished with a 42-22 record and was ranked No. 20 by Baseball America. FAU should be one of the best teams in C-USA in its first season.

* Other: ... nothing really.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE

* Football - The Blue Raiders return 17 starters from an 8-win team that somehow didn't get a bowl bid in 2012. MTSU has put together quality teams in recent seasons, and should be one of the better teams in the C-USA East.

* Basketball - MTSU is another reason to be believe that Conference USA should at least be a more balanced league when it comes to men's basketball. The Blue Raiders are coming off an NCAA Tournament bid, and should battle it out in the top half of C-USA in 2013-14.

* Baseball - The Sun Belt is a tough baseball league, and MTSU always competed among the best.

* Other: The women's basketball program has been good, winning a bunch of Sun Belt titles in recent years.

CHARLOTTE

* Football - Charlotte won't join C-USA in football until 2015, and it should be a long haul from that point forward. I just don't see the 49ers pulling in much talent in the state of North Carolina with so many major programs competing for recruits there. Charlotte may be a consistent doormat in the new C-USA.

* Basketball - Charlotte was a C-USA power when it left the league in 2005, and it should return to that status immediately. The 49ers are coming off a good final season in the A-10, earning an NIT bid. It's a program on the rise and will likely compete for a league title right away.

* Baseball - The 49ers have been one of the better teams in the A-10 the last three seasons, but it will be a big step up in C-USA.

* Other - The men's soccer team is strong.

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