Anderson likes look of conference

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Revamped Conference USA may have lost marquee schools like Louisville, Cincinnati, DePaul and Marquette, but UAB coach Mike Anderson feels its new lineup should not be taken lightly.

"I think the conference is going to be a lot better than most people think," Anderson said as the conference's spring meeting opened Monday in Destin, Fla.

In late 2003, shortly after C-USA lost five schools -- Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette and South Florida -- to the Big East, the conference added Central Florida, Marshall, Rice, SMU and Tulsa. Last year the University of Texas-El Paso joined. Those schools officially become part of C-USA on July 1, 2005.

"There's a transition; no question," Anderson said. But he said that he believes the new C-USA is "going to surprise people."

The conference schedule now consists of 14 games instead of 16. Anderson said non-conference games will also hold great importance for UAB in the upcoming season.

"I think you've got to get more of a national schedule," Anderson said. "Not only from the standpopint of just preparing yourself for the postseason and RPI. Kids want to play against good teams."

Current UAB schedule possibilities include home games against Oklahoma State, Virginia Commonwealth and Richmond, as well as a road game at Nebraska.

Anderson said other games are being considered for the schedule, which may not be completed until well into the summer.

In the meantime, Anderson is also busy searching for a replacement for assistant coach Scott Edgar, who took a position at Tennessee. Anderson said he hopes to fill the spot shortly after the league meetings, which end Thursday.