FIU Golden Panthers
Jared: Sell. It's hard to suck in South Florida but thanks to an incompetent athletics department, FIU finds a way to make it happen. Firing Mario Cristobal is an egg-on-the-face moment that will haunt FIU.
Jason: Sell. Sometimes the large media market thing that CUSA seems infatuated with is just that: a large media market. Most of their athletic department is run on student fees. That's good for the budget because they have a trillion students, but they haven't been able to get those students to participate.
Steven: Buy. Despite having a terrible athletic director, low attendance numbers and a head coach that doesn't seem to fit the area at all, the Panthers have too many quality young players to fail for much longer. FIU may not win the conference championship any time soon, but if they can continue to recruit Miami-Dade's best of the rest, they'll revert back to winning form in no time.
Steven: Buy. Excuse my bias, but the Owls truly do have things lined up wonderfully for the first time ever. A coach that can steal recruits from the big boys, the best stadium in South Florida and an administrative support system that is finally prioritizing football as the school's bread winner. The on-field product has turned sour, but it's only a matter of time before FAU is bowling again.
Jared: Buy. Beautiful stadium, awesome recruiting classes and one of the best athletic directors in the country. If Charlie Partridge can get FAU's student body invested in the program then it could become a perennial CUSA powerhouse.
Jason: Buy. FAU will recruit well because of their location and because of Partridge. If he can turn that talent into a winner, their next challenge will be to hang on to him.
Jared: Sell. Sure, Rakeem Cato was surrounded by a lot of great talent at Marshall but his graduation will be an extremely tough loss for the Herd. Doc Holliday only agreeing to a two year contract in 2014 makes me wary that he's looking for a pay raise at a P5 school.
Steven: Sell. Cato was a once in a lifetime talent for the Herd. Their grasp on out-of-state recruiting is beginning to loosen up and the fan bases incredibly high expectations won't help a team looking to scrap for another C-USA title.
Jason: Buy. Marshall has the history and facilities in place to be a factor year in and year out. Holliday may or may not be looking for his next job, but similar to LA Tech; the Thundering Herd will find a way to contend most years.
MTSU Blue Raiders
Jason: Buy. As long as Rick Stockstill is around, I'm buying MTSU. A veteran coach and a proven way of doing things always seems to work out for G5 schools. Despite the promise of some of the new schools in the East, I'm thinking MTSU and Marshall are still kings of the hill.
Jared: Push. Another program hurt by their geographic location, MTSU only has two commitments from Tennessee prep athletes in their recruiting class of 18 athletes. As the program stands now it's hard to see it becoming a true championship caliber team. With Sunbelt facilities and a coach that has a record below .500 through nine years at the school MTSU will need to make some upgrades if they want to hit the big time.
Steven: Buy. I've always a been Stockstill admirer since their Sun Belt days. The Blue Raiders never seem to do one thing better than the other, but every time they take the field, it's a battle. Stockstill continues to keep his team in the title hunt and I believe they'll break through soon.
Jared: Buy. I've been all-in on ODU for a while. Their administration is committed to football and is throwing money at their facilities. Old Dominion fans are filling the stands and the school is in an under-recruited area. It will be interesting to see how the program moves forward from Taylor Heinicke.
Jason: Buy. ODU has so many advantages when it comes to the things you look for in an expansion candidate. Facilities, Student Base, Population Base, etc... are all major factors that made ODU a strong candidate. Those same factors will help them to continue to grow and challenge Marshall at the top dog in the East.
Steven: Buy. It seems that this community was bursting at the seam to see this program make it to the big show. Tremendous fan support, a cozy stadium, and tangible on-field success should have the Monarchs in the C-USA East title hunt in no time.
Jason: Push. I like WKU almost as much as I do Marshall and MTSU, but the Hilltoppers haven't been playing FBS level football for near as long. Can they be a consistent winner like they are in basketball? They are a little further away from the recruiting hotbeds in the South, and they don't have the financial advantages of the other new schools.
Steven: Buy. It was only a matter of time, but anyone that saw their performances in the Sun Belt could tell you that the Toppers were only a few pieces away from being a great team. 2015 looks to be their year and while it will eventually be difficult to replace Brandon Doughty, WKU has recovered from worse.
Jared: Push. Jeff Brohm made an immediate impact in his first year at WKU, leading the Hilltoppers to nine wins including an upset over Marshall. Brohm has made local recruiting a focus but Kentucky doesn't offer the same talent level as Florida, Texas or Virginia. WKU has had the most immediate success of the Sunbelt call-ups but still need some facility upgrades to sustain long term success.