We must confess that we can't wait each year for the crunch of shoulder pads; for cleats churning up chunks of turf, and red-faced coaches screaming from the sidelines. But enough about lacrosse. College football season is upon us, and to celebrate, we're going to get back into tiny tidbit mode and present four things you didn't know about each major conference. If you have a little-known fact about your team or conference, strap it to a freshman, point him in our direction and whack him on the ass. Or, mail to email@example.com. Today: Conference USA.
• 1. We Are ... Marshall. Marshall fired both its football and basketball coaches in 1969, due to a variety of scandals. The following year, an airplane crash claimed the lives of 75 people (including the entire coaching staff and 37 members of the football team). They were returning, on November 14, after playing East Carolina University. Early this year production began on the "We Are ... Marshall" movie, a Warner Bros and Thunder Road Pictures film, about the crash. The bad news: It stars Matthew McConaughey.
• 2. New And Improved Rice. Rice has a new coach (Todd Graham), new Athletic Director, new uniforms, new helmets, new stadium repairs, new turf and a new scoreboard. They also have a brutal schedule, and even their most ardent fans aren't predicting more than four wins.
• 3. The Green, Green Waves Of Home. Tulane hasn't played a home football game since 2004; the team played 11 road games last season due to Hurricane Katrina. The Green Wave finally plays at home on September 30 vs. SMU.
• 4. This Just In A total of 82 Division I quarterbacks threw at least 10 touchdown passes in 2005, but SMU has not had one since Josh McCown in 1999. Coach Phil Bennett hopes to change all that with redshirt freshman Justin Willis in 2006.