They Are Who We Thought They Were
I've always maintained that Tim Floyd is one of those renaissance men who could have done anything he wanted to in life. He's smart, tall, charismatic, and possesses great leadership qualities. He just to happened to follow the 'family business' and got into coaching.
Coach Floyd could have been a 5 star general had he joined the military. For weeks he was leading the battle cry about how underrated and disrespected C-USA was. Like a lot of us he was sick of hearing about the Big East, and he gained a loyal following of C-USA minions. Floyd's long time lieutenant Larry Eustachy started banging the war drum as well. C-USA media and fans followed suit.
Tournament time rolled around and the NCAA selection committee looked more like the Salvation Army when they gave UAB an at large selection. The Blazers were rolled by an average Clemson team in Dayton. A senior laden UTEP team went out with a whimper against a New Mexico team missing their senior point guard in the NIT. In all fairness, C-USA tournament champion Memphis gave Arizona all it wanted in a great 5-12 first round game.
It gets worse from there. Marshall lost to Ohio University in the first round of the CIT. SMU squeezed by Oral Roberts in the first round of the CIT. In the second round the Mustangs will take on a feisty Jacksonville squad that knocked off East Carolina. UCF got by a .500 St. Bonaventure squad in the first round of the CBI and will face Rhode Island out of the A-10 in the second round.
The point of this exercise is not to stick my thumb in my nose and say I told you so. Maybe the national pundits and 'experts' were right all along. C-USA was never underrated, it was just properly rated. Memphis and UTEP were the most talented teams and that was reflected in the conference tournament final. UAB won the regular season, scheduled up during their non conference play and got rewarded by the selection committee. Southern Miss, Marshall, UCF, and Tulsa weren't terrible teams. They were just undeserving of any national praise or recognition.
Kudos to Tim Floyd for getting us to believe this was a great conference. There once was a young general named Washington who got his rag tag militia to believe they stood a chance against the mighty British army. Most Americans know how that turned out!