Conference USA hates Tulsa

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

This was a tough choice because the conference has changed quite a bit from a few years ago. It's young and the fierce rivalries that existed a few years ago are now just a flickering flame.

So now it's time a find a new bad boy. If this were a few years ago, I would have said Southern Miss because it had a few solid league-dominating years, including an 8-0 campaign. But now, I think Tulsa -- with its high-scoring offense -- might be the winner.

The Golden Hurricane have won the West Division two of the last three years (since expansion) and are picked to win it again this year. Their offense was the nation's best last year, and if a quarterback can emerge, Tulsa has all the pieces to be even better.

While Tulsa holds the spot now, I do think teams such as SMU and Houston can take it away. SMU will bring the run-and-shoot to the league, which will frustrate a lot of offenses. June Jones' Hawaii teams weren't known for their bad behavior, but as you can see from the WAC timeline, they were involved in a few altercations.

At Houston, I think new coach Kevin Sumlin will bring a special kind of toughness and even a bit of arrogance from the Big 12. Houston was accused of talking major smack to SMU last season, which caused the Mustangs to jump up and down on the Houston logo.

Let's hope both new coaches keep those traditions alive and well.