No UTEP fan wants to root for the Miners to lose, but that's what will have to happen for Conference USA to get more than one NCAA Tournament bid after three of the top four seeds in the conference tourney lost in the quarterfinals.
Memphis? Gone -- victim to the best 80's hair-do on a man over 60, Tom Penders.
UAB? Blazed by mighty Southern Mississippi, which has more double-letter combinations than UAB had points. At least somebody was able to put something back-to-back.
Finally, the four-seed, Marshall. Losing to a team playing in front of its "home crowd" isn't the worst thing. Except when there's really no home crowd.
And here's UTEP smushing UCF like a bug in front of...no one! It's a good thing the cheerleaders are moving around or I would suspect C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky of having made cardboard cutouts of people to sit in the stands.
Anyone check the movie theaters in Tulsa to see if there were missing pop-up posters?
Speaking of team cheer, looks like Owasso High near Tulsa has a pretty good music program. They're the kids who are playing as the Miners' pep band and they're rockin' the march-time Marty Robbins.
Good for Owasso, bad for UTEP. School pep bands and cheerleaders are shown on national television. Missing part or all of that presence is just kind of...as a matter of fact, this whole C-USA tournament looks kind of...
Ghetto like the kids use it, not like the real thing. Ghetto these days meaning chintzy, second-rate, a knock-off.
When was the last time any of these players was able to hear his family cheering in the crowd?
Oh wait, Southern Miss and SMU were playing.
The BOK Center looks like a beautiful place, but with nobody there -- including most of the top teams now -- it's a like having a lucrative shoe deal with a company whose only retail outlets are in swap meets.
This is dreadfully bad for the conference, looks embarrassing on national television and would have been even worse Friday if Tulsa had lost to Marshall. Perhaps Tulsans will show up for the semifinal showdown between the Miners and the Golden Hurricane.
If Banowsky and Co. give this tournament to El Paso, the Sun City must step up. With a year to sell it and, perhaps, a pretty good Miners team to help, it might work.
But it will take work.
Good thing about El Paso is, we do relatively well for big events. The Brut Sun Bowl? Boxing matches in the Sun Bowl? Texas Vs. the Nation Game?
Kenny Hansmire rants aside, all were well-attended, and the bigger the event the bigger the crowd.
I know people are still getting used to the idea of UTEP being in Conference USA. Lack of identity for just about everyone in the league has led to this underwhelming showing in Tulsa.
That's not the fans' fault, it's the conference's fault.
However, if the tourney comes here, it doesn't matter if half the city wants UTEP to be in the Mountain West, or even the WAC (because who wouldn't want to watch Idaho-San Jose State?), the Miners are in Conference USA; which, despite the lack of zing, still has a better television deal.
Banowsky can't stand pat on that solid bit of lawyerly deal-making, though, even if he is an attorney.
Whether it's football or basketball, the conference -- from its main office to its member schools -- must step forward, and, unlike Memphis under John Calipari, do so while playing by the rules.
UTEP made a forward-thinking move to step into C-USA as the ground in the WAC became shakier. It would be a shame to have to go courting again when conferences endure another temblor in the next year or so.