Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.
These opinions bloom like daffodils.
n Hasn’t anybody else connected these dots?
New Marshall University head football coach Charles Huff makes his debut against Navy on Sept. 4 in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium at Annapolis, Maryland.
Well, guess what else happens that same day?
West Virginia University head coach Neal Brown begins his third year at the helm on Sept. 4 against the University of Maryland in Maryland Stadium at College Park, Maryland.
So, both of West Virginia’s two NCAA Division I football programs play their season openers on the same day and on the same road in the same state.
All that begs one question: Are both kickoffs going to be at the same time, too?
That seems too coincidental even for my accelerated fascination with oddities like this, but there is another interesting premise to this scheduling anomaly. If the kickoffs were far enough apart — say, one game starting at noon and the other at 7 p.m. — bipartisan fans easily could attend both games.
The key word in that last sentence was “bipartisan.” If any fans of that persuasion actually exist in the Mountain State, it’s only a 35-minute drive between Annapolis and College Park, which are located roughly 30 miles apart.
That’s a doubleheader only a sports writer could love.
n Which Conference USA sport is stronger, football or men’s basketball?
It’s not even close.
Take the 2020-21 seasons, for example.
North Texas pulled a big upset, defeating Purdue 78-69 in overtime during March Madness in Indianapolis. That marked the fifth time in the last six seasons that a Conference USA men’s basketball team has won a game in the NCAA Tournament.
Before the 2020 tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Old Dominion won a game in the 2019 NCAA tourney, Marshall defeated Wichita State in the 2018 NCAAs and Middle Tennessee won tournament games in both 2017 and 2016.
Since 1985, only two Group of Five conferences have winning records in the NCAA Tournament. The American Athletic Conference leads with an 11-8 record (.579), but Conference USA is next at 54-53 (.505). Meanwhile, the Mid-American Conference is 19-38 (.333), the Mountain West is 22-44 (.333) and the Sun Belt is 16-42 (.276).
Of the 32 conferences in college basketball, only eight have winning overall records and Conference USA is one of them.
As for football?
Last season says it all. In the 2020-21 bowl games, all six Conference USA participants were underdogs in their respective matchups. Well, guess what? All six C-USA schools lost.
Yes, C-USA had an embarrassing 0-6 record in bowl games.
Obviously, men’s basketball is Conference USA’s marquee sport.
n Will WVU vs. Marshall continue as a home-and-home series in baseball?
That is an interesting issue. The Mountaineers played the Thundering Herd in Huntington for the first time in 33 years recently, losing 7-1. Marshall will return the visit by playing the Mountaineers in Morgantown on April 14.
Will that scenario continue?
“At some point, you’ve got to go one-on-one,” said veteran Marshall coach Jeff Waggoner. “You can’t just play at their place every game. We’re not playing in Charleston anymore. It’s done.
“I want our guys to have a home game. And I don’t want to travel to West Virginia and play them at home every time we play them. They need to play us at our place.
“That’s only fair. We had never played them at home. Think about it.”
Waggs makes a good point.