North Texas' men's golf program plays its first season in Conference USA in 2013-14, and looks to continue its tradition of winning conference titles in its new home. Conference USA's men's golf championship has been held in Texarkana, Texas during recent years, which could be a huge advantage for the Mean Green. FIU and Tulane do not sponsor men's golf-Tulane's men's golf program was dropped after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
"I'm excited because our conference championship is located nearby in Texarkana, so we don't have to fly anymore," said North Texas Men's Golf Coach Brad Stracke. "The other thing is the competition in C-USA is going to be great. I believe our fan base is going to grow because of that."
Conference USA programs are viewed very favorably by the latest Golf Stat rankings-obviously North Texas ranks 26th, but they are joined in the top 100 by East Carolina (No. 34), UAB (No. 37), Tulsa (No. 53), Louisiana Tech (No. 68) and Charlotte (No. 72). While there is no league play in golf, a strong conference championship can help a school move up in the rankings at a critical juncture of the year.
"It probably depends on the year," said Stracke "You have to be above .500 to make the NCAA Tournament, unless you win your conference championship. If we're teetering on .500, then of course I want a weaker conference. If we're way above .500, then winning the conference championship can push us higher in the rankings, and I'd want a tougher conference."
"This year, I would want a tougher conference, to boost our rankings and get us up into the Top 25," added Stracke. "It helps in recruiting. The players look at the rankings, and if you're a top 25 program, they want to come to your program. Every spot you move up really helps in the recruiting board."
The C-USA Championship has been held at Texarkana Country Club four of the past six years, which will be significantly closer for North Texas than Muscle Shoals, Ala., where the Sun Belt Championships are held.
"It will be great if it's at Texarkana Country Club," said Stracke. "I understand it's a great venue, and I've heard nothing but good things from the conference championship there. It will bring out the best team and that's all you can ask for from a conference championship."
A total of eight of the 11 current C-USA schools sent a representative to golf's national tournament in 2011. North Texas, Tulsa, Charlotte and East Carolina qualified as teams, while individuals from UAB, Marshall, Rice and Southern Miss qualified for the tournament.
Since C-USA's 2005-06 realignment, the conference has sent multiple teams to the men's golf championship every year, and four or more teams in five of the seven seasons since realignment.
North Texas 26
East Carolina 34
La. Tech 68
Southern Miss 121