MTSUâ€™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.
Menâ€™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.
Womenâ€™s basketball went 29-5 and 15-1 in C-USA and dominated the postseason tournament to earn another berth to the NCAA tournament.
MTSUâ€™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 Hayesâ€™ track programs were, for the most part, in the upper echelon, and the Blue Raiders sent eight performers and the menâ€™s 4x400 relay team to the NCAA Championships last weekend.
The MTSU menâ€™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 womenâ€™s tennis made it to the semifinals of the C-USA tournament, while the men advanced to the quarters. MTSUâ€™s volleyball team (17-13, 8-6) made the tournament, but lost in the first round.
MTSUâ€™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 didnâ€™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.