C-USA notebook

North Texas cornerback back Kemon Hall tackles Florida Atlantic quarterback Chris Robison during the Mean Green’s win last season at Apogee Stadium. FAU coach Lane Kiffin said during the closing session of Conference USA media days on Thursday that Robison will have a chance to remain the Owls starter after being suspended for all of spring practice.

FRISCO — Chris Robison could be back as Florida Atlantic’s starting quarterback before the Owls open the season at Ohio State.

The former Mesquite Horn standout was suspended during the offseason and missed all 15 of FAU’s workouts over the course of spring practice.

The Palm Beach Post reported in May that FAU conducted an investigation after Robison was accused of sexual battery in early December. No charges were filed, and the woman involved in the accusation later agreed the encounter was consensual and did not press charges.

Robison was reinstated in June and will have the opportunity to regain his starting spot, FAU coach Lane Kiffin said during the closing session of Conference USA media days on Thursday at Baylor Scott & White Performance Center.

“Chris was suspended while they were going through the investigation,” Kiffin said. “He will be in the mix. To me, he’s not the returning starter. He’s in the competition. The other guys got the reps he would have gotten. It’s very even right now.”

Robison threw for 2,540 yards with 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as a redshirt freshman and was named Co-Freshman of the Year in C-USA.

FAU’s hopes to bounce back from a disappointing 5-7 season could hinge largely on Robison’s status. The Owls lost several of their top players after the 2018 season, including running backs Devin Singletary and Kerrith Whyte Jr.

Singletary and Whyte helped led FAU to a 11-3 finish and the C-USA title in 2017. Both were selected in the 2018 NFL draft.

Former Alabama running back B.J. Emmons is expected to help fill the void left by the departure of both Singletary and Whyte.

FAU could contend in the East Division if Robison returns to the form that saw him throw for 471 yards in a win over Air Force early last season. Robison and FAU struggled late in 2018 when injuries mounted.

The Owls lost linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair after six games and also saw wide receiver Willie Wright suffer a concussion late in the year.

“In 2017 everything went our way,” FAU tight end Harrison Bryant said. “Last year we lost several close games. That fueled a fire for us throughout the offseason and for our upcoming camp. It was a wake-up call for us to get right and come together as a team.

UNT WR Bussey named to Biletnikoff watch list

North Texas wide receiver Rico Bussey Jr. was named to the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award on Thursday. The honor goes to the nation’s top wide receiver each season.

Bussey’s inclusion on the list allowed UNT to work its way into the news on the second day of C-USA media days, which was reserved for the league’s East Division coaches.

Bussey caught 68 passes for 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He led UNT in all three categories and was a first-team All-C-USA selection.

MTSU enters new era with one Stockstill

Middle Tennessee will enter a new era in program history this fall following the graduation of quarterback Brent Stockstill.

The son of Blue Raiders coach Rick Stockstill helped guide MTSU to bowl appearances in each of the last four seasons. Brent Stockstill finished with 12,495 career passing yards, destroying the previous school record of 8,007 yards set by Wes Counts from 1998-2001.

“It’s been a little different,” Rick Stockstill said. “The guys all sit in the same place in the team meeting room. Brent sat in the same place for five years. The first team meeting back, there are empty chairs where the seniors sat. It’s part of life. Guys graduate and move on.”

Brent Stockstill is following his father into coaching but has yet to announce where he will begin his career.

“That’s his passion and dream,” Rick Stockstill said. “He’s ready and is going to be a really good coach. He understands the work ethic you have.”

Davis: Programs missing out by not hiring vet coaches

Butch Davis has quickly revived Florida International’s program in two seasons as the Panthers coach.

FIU beat Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl last season on its way to a 9-4 finish. The Panthers went 8-5 in 2017 and snapped a string of five straight losing seasons.

Davis, 67, believes other programs across the country could benefit from hiring veteran coaches. He served as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns in addition to guiding the programs at North Carolina and Miami on the college level.

“There are a lot of coaches who are not coaching who should be,” the former Cowboys assistant said. “People look at them and say they are too old.

“A lot of times administrators think that they can’t relate to kids and are out of touch with 18-year-olds. What they don’t realize is they have 30 years of experience and know how to turn the culture of a program around.”

Wilder: Upgraded stadium will be boost for ODU

Old Dominion is in the process of a finishing a $67.5 million renovation of S.B. Ballard Stadium in time for the 2019 season.

Several C-USA schools have built new stadiums or renovated their existing venues in the last few years and experienced significant benefits. UNT opened Apogee Stadium in 2011 and has seen attendance rise and its program improve since. ODU is expecting a similar result.

“The new stadium is a huge boost to our program at a critical time,” Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder said. “We really needed it. ... We kept it intimate and went to 22,000 seats. We wanted to maintain the atmosphere we had. Our players are inspired by it and can’t wait to play in it.”

Two new coaches make media days debut

Charlotte coach Will Healy and Western Kentucky coach Tyson Helton both made their debut appearance at C-USA media days on Tuesday.

Healy spent the last three seasons at Austin Peay. Helton was Tennessee’s offensive coordinator last season and spent the 2014-15 serving in the same capacity at WKU.

The Hilltoppers finished 12-2 and won the C-USA title in 2015 and went 8-5 in 2014.

WKU finished 6-7 in 2017 before crashing to 3-9 last year.

“I see a group that is similar to when I was here the first time in 2014 and 2015,” Helton said. “Guys are highly motivated, energized and want to be successful. This program takes a lot of pride in winning. The guys want to get back on track.”

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

Recommended for you