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Conference USA West Stock Exchange

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We reconvene for yet another year of the CUSA stock exchange. Which programs are surging to long term relevance?

Louisiana Tech and Rice will continue to battle for CUSA West titles
Louisiana Tech and Rice will continue to battle for CUSA West titles
Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

UAB Blazers

Jared: Push. Ah, the futures market! Consider me skeptical about UAB's ability to get a new stadium off the ground so I'm going to stand pat on UAB. While the Blazers will return to football with a lot of energy and goodwill, the institutional hurdles the program tripped over in the first place are still, unfortunately, in tact. Fortunately for UAB, Bill Clark is the type of coach to overcome such issues.

Cyrus: Push. The fact UAB was able to retain Bill Clark during this ordeal is quite amazing. With him leading UAB back onto the gridiron the Blazers will continue to be competitive. However, questions still remain as to whether or not UAB football has longevity as the facilities are still bad and the football stadium is still Legion Field. Oh, and Ray Watts is still overseeing things. #FireRayWatts

Anthony: Sell. I'm having a hard time putting any money on a program that is in such limbo. Their performance during recruiting was very impressive, and there seems to be a lot of hype surrounding the team. However, many of their original obstacles are still obstacles. The Blazers are lucky to have Bill Clark through all of the turmoil but I don't think he's enough to make me buy.

UNT Mean Green

Jared: Sell. Despite a staff upgrade in Denton, I'm still selling the program for all of the same reasons I did last year. The football culture in Denton is lacking and the Mean Green continue to struggle at identifying and developing talent at the quarterback position. The Seth Littrell hire might energize UNT's Metroplex alumni base but I think it's going to take several seasons of success before the program receives the support it should.

Cyrus: Push. Seth Littrell should provide an uptick in talent and with the athletes that are in Texas the Mean Green could be winning in no time but I have my doubts as to whether North Texas will ever be a place you can build long term success. As a G5 school in a football state you need all the support you can get or you will be lost in the shuffle. I still don't see the support in Denton.

Anthony: Push. There's very good reason to sell on this one. After a horrific season, North Texas could have easily lost the small faithful few fans that keep the excitement for the program alive. Fortunately for them, a switch to coach Seth Littrell generated some buzz in Denton that may be able to fuel them for another season while Littrell looks to work on a tough rebuild. QB concerns and a lack of overall experience lead me towards selling but the Mean Green have enough grounds for one more shot.

Rice Owls

Jared: Sell. Things seem to be falling apart at Rice despite a new endzone facility on the way. The Owls were hapless on the field in 2015 and turned in their worst recruiting class in years. Despite access to Houston prep talent, Rice is an incredibly hard place to win at.

Cyrus: Buy. I'm still all in on David Bailiff. Last year was definitely a disappointment. But that's how far Rice football has come under Bailiff's direction. He's been down this path before following Rice's 10-win season in 2008 with three straight losing seasons just to come back with three straight winning seasons including a Conference USA Championship. Bailiff has his back against the wall again. I expect him to deliver.

Anthony: Sell. Rice is returning some offensive talent in 2016 but there are still a lot of question marks after a rough season. They beat the teams they were supposed to beat in 2015 but struggled to pick up a quality win. It isn't impossible for Bailiff to send Rice back to a bowl but after ranking last in recruiting this season, I don't like the long-term outlook of the Owls.

UTSA Roadrunners

Jared: Buy. The Roadrunners are in a pretty nice spot to find success and just made a great head coaching hire in Frank Wilson. Larry Coker and his staff left the program's quarterback depth in a pretty terrible position but if the new staff can find some talent to support Dalton Sturm then the Roadrunners should be able to complete for conference championships fairly soon.

Cyrus: Buy. UTSA followed in FAU 's footsteps in hiring a guy who has a reputation for recruiting at a high level without any coordinator experience. As the saying goes, its not about the X's & O's, its about the Jimmys and Joes. FAU is still figuring things out but there's no doubt the talent level is there. I expect Frank Wilson to do the same for UTSA. There will be some growing pains on the field early but Wilson has the benefit of being in a weak C-USA West division. A division title run in year two isn't that far fetched.

Anthony: Buy. I'm honestly not sold on the Roadrunners in the short-term. They aren't returning a very impressive team and coaching changes always bring up question marks. However, long-term I like the outook for UTSA. The program is building a strong culture with its fans and is doing better than the majority of it's CUSA West divison mates at scheduling impressive non-conference games. Even if the outcome isn't aways a W, the team never seems to stop fighting and that will eventually pay off.

UTEP Miners

Jared: Buy. I'm still on the fence about UTEP. They're improving on the recruiting trail. El Paso high school football is becoming respectable. The Miners have great facilities and an invested fan base. But head coach Sean Kugler will need his new offensive coordinator Brent Pease to resurrect the Miners' offense without any stand-out talent under center. I'm going to take a risky move and throw some cash in the Miners' stock. It could pay off.

Cyrus: Buy. I'm always going to invest on a G5 school who has a great fan base and UTEP has that. Last year they endured a ton of injuries and were still on the verge of becoming bowl eligible. C-USA West isn't stacked with talented teams and they have the benefit of keeping their head coach Sean Kugler whereas others are starting fresh. If Brent Pease can make the offense become more balanced the Miners will be dangerous.

Anthony: Sell. I've put my faith in the Miners more than a few times in the last few seasons and it rarely paid off. This season I just don't see anything different happening that can provide a significant improvement. I think a rebuilding North Texas and UTSA catch UTEP soon as they fade behind La Tech and Southern Miss to compete for a middle of the pack standing.

Southern Miss Golden Eagles

Jared: Sell. Out of all of the G5 head coaching hires this offseason USM might have made the least inspiring one. Jay Hopson and his crazy contract came off as a desperate, settling hire to me and I don't like that Hopson pulled up his entire FCS staff with him. That's not to say that I think USM is going to be terrible under Hopson, their stock is just really high right now so I'm inclined to sell while the gettin's good.

Cyrus: Push. Southern Miss is a tricky job to peg. This year Jay Hopson has one of the best teams in C-USA. Anything less than a conference title will be a disappointment. Its hard not to like the Golden Eagles right now. But the future is a big question mark. What if Southern Miss underachieves this year? Can Hopson and his FCS staff recruit at this level? I love them too much this season to sell and a big year could pay off greatly for Hopson in the coming years but a lot is riding on this season.

Anthony: Push. The Golden Eagles seemed to be caught off guard and rushed in their search for a new head coach this offseason. The team taking the field in 2016 will by far be one of the more talented in the entire conference so the short-term looks really nice for Southern Miss. On the other hand, however, the West division is weak right now and Southern Miss will soon have more competition to deal with. I'm not sold on the long-term success of the Golden Eagles.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Jared: Push. How will the Bulldogs' offense look without a graduate transfer quarterback? It's reasonable to expect a slight tumble from Louisiana Tech this season but I don't think the program is in any serious threat to drop out of the CUSA West hunt in the long term. Nonetheless, I'm holding steady on the Bulldogs for the time being.

Cyrus: Push. Tech will continue to be in the hunt for division titles but last year's inability to get it done against an upstart Southern Miss team was disappointing. Rumors swirling around Louisiana's budget is concerning. What's preventing me from buying is I don't know their ceiling. Skip Holtz is decent, but that just sounds like seven to eight wins a season. It'll be interesting to see how they look without a graduate transfer at quarterback and the best running back in school history.

Anthony: Push. Louisiana Tech will have some big slots to fill with Dixon and Driskel gone this year. The loss to Southern Miss was disappointing, but not disappointing enough to make me sell. The biggest advantage that La Tech has in their favor is a weak West division. With two teams rebuilding and two struggling to reach their potential, Southern Miss might be La Tech's only obstacle again this season.