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C-USA in numbers game like the lottery

Jan. 24, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Trying to keep up with Conference USA's ever-changing membership is like ordering at Baskin-Robbins.

Take a number.

A release from the league Tuesday made that increasingly obvious.

"We are very pleased to welcome Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic to Conference USA next season," said commissioner Britton Banowsky. "We look forward to supporting a 16-member league, with 14 football teams competing for Conference USA in 2013."

Wondering about the number discrepancy?

It's because Charlotte and Old Dominion are going to compete in men's basketball next season, as well as most other sports, but not football.

So, in 2013-14, Conference USA will have 14 football members and 16 basketball schools. In 2014-15, the league will have 13 in football and 14 in basketball because Old Dominion will join in football while East Carolina and Tulane leave in both sports.

Then, in 2015-16, C-USA will have 14 in football and 14 in basketball because Charlotte will join in football.

Phew.

Even the West Virginia Lottery would have trouble keeping track of all these numbers.

And, remember, these fluctuating membership figures aren't etched in crayon much less stone. If Tulsa follows the stampede to the Big East, all these numbers will be skewed again because C-USA will have to wait on the Golden Hurricane to leave and for a replacement to join.

The top contender for replacement honors?

I give Western Kentucky the nod.

HERD KARMA: That is definitely the case with the Buffalo Bills.

When new head coach Doug Marrone hired Greg Adkins as Buffalo's new tight ends coach, it created a Marshall moment.

That's because before Adkins was Marrone's offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Syracuse, the Cross Lanes, W.Va., native was a four-year letterman in the Thundering Herd's offensive line (1986-89) and, then, a Marshall assistant coach (1991-95).

And who will Adkins be coaching in Buffalo? Who else? Former Marshall star Lee Smith.

Smith, 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, made an impact last season for the Bills, starting seven games and catching four passes for 13 yards including two touchdown grabs. And, now, the former Marshall standout will be coached by another Herd alumnus.

What a perfect scenario.

MORE KARMA: Remember Rick Minter? Well, the former Marshall defensive coordinator has landed on his feet again.

After not being retained by MU head coach Doc Holliday after the 2009 season, Minter spent a year as linebacker coach at Indiana State. But, then, he was hired by the University of Kentucky as defensive coordinator, spending the 2011 and '12 seasons with the Wildcats.

But when UK fired head coach Joker Phillips and his staff, Minter was out of work again. But not for long. When the Philadelphia Eagles hired Oregon's Chip Kelly as head coach, Kelly began loading his staff with veteran college coaches.

That includes Minter, who will make his NFL coaching debut in 2013 as the Eagles' linebacker coach.

There's some Marshall karma in that move, too. He will be reunited on the defensive side of the ball with former Herd star Vinny Curry, who was one of Minter's players at Marshall.

Hmmm.

Four former Marshall players in the Super Bowl plus two former Marshall assistants now coaching Marshall alums in the NFL.

The Herd Universe is having an impact on the NFL world.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or clandon@herald- dispatch.com.

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