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08.01.05: Demand swamps supply of Gamecock tickets
07.31.05: After C-USA raid, restocked WAC plows ahead
07.30.05: BCS pushing for instant replay in all 28 bowls
07.29.05: Bower suspends two players, bids adieu to 4 more ... S.C. prep coaches blast Spurrier scholarship moves
07.28.05: Pirate Radio Network evolves to 27 stations ... Acquittal leads to reinstatement of UC assistant
07.27.05: At East Carolina, Saturday is all about the ladies ... ACC stockpiling future postseason destinations
07.26.05: BCS faces challenge from shadow poll of VIP's
07.25.05: Players still learning the ropes of redefined ACC ... Huggins assistant acquitted of DUI charge
07.24.05: CIAA trophy to be named after 'Big House' ... ECU hoops mirror reflects Herd, Wave, Knights
07.23.05: East Carolina alum Mike Sutton taken off respirator
... Jury slaps recruiting guru with $30 million verdict
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News Nuggets, 08.02.05
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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

C-USA to feel impact of imported WAC teams

Both the old and the new will be represented in the upper echelon of reconfigured Conference USA's 2005 football power structure, say the league's coaches.

Southern Mississippi, a charter member and perennial conference power, will reign supreme in the East Division, according to the coaches, while UTEP will make a solid first impression by winning the West Division in its inaugural year in C-USA.

If the coaches' crystal ball proves prophetic, the Golden Eagles and Miners will meet in the league's first football title game on Saturday, Dec. 3, in front of the ESPN television cameras.

The new divisional alignment is the product of the league's transformation since last season from an awkward collection of disparate schools — some without football programs — into a 12-team league in which all members place a high priority on the gridiron.

UTEP leads a contingent of four former Western Athletic Conference members — the others are Rice, SMU and Tulsa — into C-USA's West Division, where they join league incumbents Houston and Tulane.

In addition to Southern Miss, the East Division is home to league regulars East Carolina, Memphis and UAB and newcomers UCF and Marshall, both formerly members of the Mid-American Conference.

The prognosticators have two of the league's top individual awards being captured by players from former WAC schools — defensive end John Syptak of Rice and return specialist Ashlan Davis of Tulsa — while Memphis running back DeAngelo Williams is predicted to win offensive honors.

The influx of new teams into C-USA more than offsets the departures of several schools, increasing the league from 11 to 12 football-playing members — thus meeting the threshold under NCAA guidelines for staging the conference title game at the end of the regular season.

Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida have moved from C-USA to the Big East Conference, while former league member TCU has joined the Mountain West Conference. Army, which was a member of C-USA in football only, has returned to the independent ranks.

The 2005 projected order of finish in Conference USA's East and West Divisions, according to a vote of the league's coaches:

EAST DIVISION

1. Southern Miss 64
2. UAB 60
3. Memphis 55
4. Marshall 35
5. East Carolina 19 (tie)
5. UCF 19 (tie)

WEST DIVISION

1. UTEP 68
2. Houston 59
3. Tulane 46
4. Tulsa 31
5. Rice 27
6. SMU 21

Conference USA's projected 2005 top individual award winners, according to a vote of the league's coaches:

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis (1,948 yards, nation-leading 22 rush TDs, 24 total TDs)

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

John Syptak, DE, Rice (69 tackles, 15 TFLs, 8 sacks)

SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Ashlan Davis, KR, Tulsa (led nation in KOR avg. at 30.6; set NCAA record with 5 returns for TDs)

From staff reports and ECU Athletics and Conference USA news releases.


News Nuggets are compiled periodically based on material supplied by staff members; data published by ECU, Conference USA and its member schools; and reports from Associated Press and other sources. Copyright 2005 Bonesville.net and other publishers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

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