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Sun, Dec 21, 2014

First season in C-USA a solid success for MTSU

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MTSU’s first athletic season in Conference USA met with mixed results, but for the most part the Blue Raiders were more than competitive.

The Blue Raider football team went 8-5 overall and 6-2 in conference play and earned another bowl berth. Expectations should be high next season.

Men’s basketball went 24-9 overall, 13-3 in C-USA and tied for first place in the league standings. It was a rather impressive season when one considers the talent the Blue Raiders lost from the previous year.

Women’s basketball went 29-5 and 15-1 in C-USA and dominated the postseason tournament to earn another berth to the NCAA tournament.

MTSU’s baseball team bounced back from a 5-10 start and went 31-27 and 17-13 in league play for a fourth-place finish. The Blue Raiders were never swept by a C-USA opponent, and they won both series against the two teams going to an NCAA regional in Rice and Old Dominion.

Dean Hayes’ track programs were, for the most part, in the upper echelon, and the Blue Raiders sent eight performers and the men’s 4x400 relay team to the NCAA Championships last weekend.

The MTSU men’s golf program finished fifth in the C-USA Championships, but still earned a spot in an NCAA regional based on its fine play throughout the year. The Lady Raider golf program also had a solid third-place finish in postseason tournament.

MTSU women’s tennis made it to the semifinals of the C-USA tournament, while the men advanced to the quarters. MTSU’s volleyball team (17-13, 8-6) made the tournament, but lost in the first round.

MTSU’s soccer team (3-5-2 in league play) missed a spot in the tournament on the final day of league play, while the softball team struggled again at 10-45 and 2-21. Hopefully another solid recruiting year by coach Jeff Breeden will lead to a turnaround.

MTSU athletics didn’t dominate Conference USA the way it did the Sun Belt across the board, but all in all, it was a very solid first year in the new league.

I think all of the coaches were able to look at the talent level across the board in their respective sport and know that recruiting, as always, is now at a big-time premium.

When it was announced MTSU would be going to C-USA, I think a lot of people assumed it would be a league on par with the Sun Belt. It some sports it is, but for the most part it was a big jump in talent and competition.

What lies ahead in 2014-15? Who knows, but you can rest assured the MTSU coaches are pounding the recruiting trail and uncovering every rock to find the talent needed to compete in C-USA.

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C-USA, Monte Hale, MTSU, sports
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