North Texas quarterback Mason Fine laughs about his second half hand injury with head coach Seth Littrell after pulling out a win over Florida Atlantic last season. Littrell and Fine will join safety Khairi Muhammad in representing UNT during the opening session of Conference USA media days on Wednesday in Frisco. 

Conference USA media days will take place beginning tomorrow in Frisco.

North Texas coach Seth Littrell, quarterback Mason Fine and safety Khairi Muhammad will appear on the first day of the event, along with the rest of the coaches and players from West Division teams.

The East Division coaches and players will appear on Thursday.

UAB is the defending West Division and overall C-USA champion. Middle Tennessee won the East Division in 2018.

There are plenty of stories for individual teams to address, including North Texas

Can UNT handle the pressure of being the West Division favorite? What about the Mean Green's defense and a host of late additions to the roster?

We'll get to those stories, but there are also plenty of overriding issues when it comes to the league.

Here are five storylines to watch heading into the event:

1. What is the general feeling about the strength of the league?

Group of Five leagues are constantly jockeying for position. The American Athletic Conference is pushing itself as the sixth power conference.

C-USA is coming off a really good 4-2 bowl season and will have a chance to show that it is a rising power in the G5 this fall.

UNT will play at SMU, where the Mean Green are 1-24-1 all-time. Marshall will play at Boise State, while Duke will play at Middle Tennessee.

How do C-USA's coaches and players feel about where the league stands heading into those games?

2. Does a C-USA team have a shot at the access bowl?

Members of the G5 leagues are battling not only for position among the hierarchy of college football conferences but also for golden ticket to the access bowl.

One G5 team receives a spot in a New Year's Six bowl each season.

Central Florida has grabbed that spot in each of the last two seasons. C-USA has never broken through to play in the game.

"We would love to be able to say we have a team that did it," Middle Tennessee athletic director Chris Massaro said this summer. "We need that to happen."

UNT and Marshall are picked to win C-USA's West and East Divisions. respectively, this year. Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech are also expected to be solid.

Does anyone in C-USA feel like a team from the league can break through?

3. Is C-USA growing as a league or is everyone eyeing the exits?

The Denton Record-Chronicle's series on the state of C-USA heading into its 25th season caused a bit of a debate about how solid the league is.

C-USA officials believe the conference is in a good spot, but the league's athletic directors did say there has been some informal talk about the idea of schools at the G5 level realigning on a more regional basis.

It only makes sense.

Connecticut's departure from the American Athletic Conference for the Big East also sparked talk of potential opportunities for a C-USA team to jump ship for a spot in the AAC.

The general feeling among C-USA's ADs was that no one is going anywhere. It's unlikely C-USA's coaches will have anything super interesting to say on the subject, but they will certainly be asked.

4. Can the Texas teams in C-USA (other than UNT) rebound?

The bottom of C-USA's West Division was bad last season, really bad

UTEP won one game in 2018, and that win came against Rice. The Owls won two games, including a victory over Prairie View A&M of the SWAC. UTSA won three games, and (you guessed it), two of them were against UTEP and Rice.

None of the three are expected to be that much better this season. UTSA, Rice and UTEP were picked to finish in the bottom three spots in the West in that order.

Isn't Texas supposed to be a football state?

It's a travesty in Texas, where football is king, to have three Texas schools that are so bad at the sport.

It's not like Western Kentucky, where the interest level in who the backup point guard on the men's basketball team is going to be trumps anything that happens in football.

The question of what the deal is will certainly be asked.

5. Can UAB continue its run of success?

UAB won the C-USA title last season in its second year back after a short hiatus due to the program being shut down and then revived.

The Blazers received some breaks from the NCAA when they returned and had several players who had been around forever the last two years. UAB had more than 30 seniors last season.

UAB has a reasonable 17 seniors this year. Bill Clark is a great coach. Can he help the Blazers maintain their winning ways?

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

Recommended for you