USM could be dancing come March
JAN. 22, 2001
Thoughts whizzing about as I watch the 2000 USM football team being honored at halftime Sunday night.
HATTIESBURG 14-3. If I had told you at the beginning of the season that the Southern Miss Golden Eagles would have raced out to the above mark with only 11 regular season games to play, what would you have said? Would you have believed it? Would you have snickered? Told me I was crazy?
C'mon, admit it. Many of you would. I know I would have.
What's important is, nobody inside James Green's locker room, yes, including Green himself, would have been taken aback in the slightest.
In fact, even though he may frown on it a bit, his guys are looking at the big picture…the Big Dance, that is. The fact is no one on this current squad has ever made it to the field of 64. And that makes for a hungry bunch.
Ah, the sound of confidence. Isn't it refreshing? These Eagles don't sound at all cocky and yet they aren't skirting the issue of where they want to end up either. Too often in major college sports, you don't get that mix from the mouths of today's players and certainly not from the rambling of the dreaded coachspeak.
And the latter wasn't something Green was engaging in either.
Green also said when you have players that haven't been to the tournament, the subject must be addressed. But a fine line that results in putting too much pressure on the players couldn't be crossed.
A position that could possibly be described as the catbird seat.
USM currently sports the best record in Conference USA and could be 5-1 in the National Division if they can best the 4-12 Houston Cougars at home Wednesday night. After that, it's a two-game road litmus test against UNC-Charlotte's 49ers and Marquette. Both those teams have a combined 14 losses currently between them.
And along the way, the players want to erase the notion that USM is just a football school.
They are well on their way.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at email@example.com.