Conference USA’s spring football preview recently came out with a litany of information. One of the most notable pieces could easily have gone unnoticed.
In its list of television partners, BeIN Sports was absent. This could be a subtle sign of the non-renewal of a contract that was supposed to end after the 2018-19 athletic season.
BeIN Sports did little for the conference mostly due to its low carriage numbers. It is hard to find accurate subscriber numbers online, but one site estimated their carriage at about 22 million homes in 2017.
Not only that, but the broadcasts were generally lacking in quality, with the lone bright spot often being the presence of the great Mike Gleason in the booth.
With the departure of BeIN Sports, Conference USA’s TV deal puts them further behind their Group of 5 cohorts.
Their main partners are now CBSSN, which reaches about 60 million homes, Stadium, an over-the-air and online broadcaster, and the paywall of ESPN+.
Despite all of this, BeIN did have its share of memorable games and below is a ranking of some of the network’s best games.
5.) Near Upsets on BeIN
The doormats of the league always seemed to perform well under the “bright lights” of BeIN Sports for some reason.
In 2017, the hapless Charlotte 49ers jumped out to a 26-7 lead against a Gasparilla Bowl-bound FIU team, on the strength of Ben LeMay’s 178 rushing yards, before Alex McGough would lead the Panthers to a 30-29 comeback victory.
McGough threw for 206 yards and a touchdown, and also added two rushing touchdowns. Thomas Owens also did it all for FIU throwing for a touchdown and catching seven passes for 101 yards and another touchdown.
This past season, the Mighty Miners of UTEP, who would go 1-11, also made a statement on BeIN, nearly upsetting the defending West division champs and New Mexico Bowl-bound North Texas.
Ryan Metz out-passed Mason Fine throwing for 313 yards to Fine’s 294. Warren Redix of UTEP and Rico Bussey Jr. of North Texas both had over 100 receiving yards.
The game was tied 10-10 at halftime before North Texas went on a 17-7 run to run away from the Miners. The Miners cut the lead to 27-24 on a 67-yard touchdown pass from Metz to Kenyan Foster with five minutes to go, but the Miners could not steal the win after failing on 4th and 17 with less than two minutes to go.
4.) The Queen City Special-2017
Despite all of the close calls, one of the conference’s underdogs did end up defeating one of the league’s elite. In 2017, a Charlotte team that lost to North Carolina A&T found a way to defeat the Bahamas Bowl-bound UAB Blazers 25-24 for their only win.
Led by Hasaan Klugh’s 140 passing yards and 154 rushing yards, the 49ers climbed back from a 17-0 deficit to send the game into overtime on Nigel Macauley’s 24-yard field goal.
In overtime, UAB drew first blood on AJ Erdely’s one-yard touchdown run, his second of the game. Hasaan Klugh responded with a one-yard run of his own.
Rather than playing for double-overtime, the 49ers went for broke and won the game on a flashy reverse pass from Chris Montgomery to Hasaan Klugh for the two-point conversion.
3.) The Mean Green Miracle-2017
Coming into their week four game, few expected UAB-North Texas to be one of the best games of the 2017 season. UAB fought back from a 14-point deficit with eight minutes left in the game to tie the game at 43 on A.J. Erdely’s five-yard touchdown pass to Lucious Stanley with 27 seconds left in the game.
This proved to be too much time as Evan Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff to the UAB 44, and on the next play Jeffery Wilson put the Mean Green in field goal range on a 34-yard draw to the UAB 10, where Trevor Moore would win the game on a 22-yard field goal with seven seconds left.
Many players had star performances in this game with AJ Erdely throwing for 321 yards and four touchdowns for the Blazers, who also had two receivers exceed 100 yards, Collin Lisa and Andre Wilson.
For the Mean Green, Mason Fine threw for 261 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, while Jeffery Wilson ran for 211 yards on 8 yards a carry.
2.) North Texas and Army’s Offensive Explosion-2017
Army ran for 534 yards and lost. Let that sink in. Both teams combined for 1,050 yards and 101 points as North Texas won this shootout 52-49. QB Ahmad Bradshaw ran for an astonishing 244 yards for Army, while Darnell Woolfolk added 120 yards of his own. North Texas made their living by the air on the other hand, with Mason Fine throwing for 386 yards and four touchdowns, with Turner Smiley on the receiving end of 123 of those yards and two of those touchdowns.
The teams scored 24 points in the last four minutes alone, with Andy Davidson of Amry tying the game at 49 with 1:23 to go. However, like in the UAB game on our list, North Texas had too much time. The Mean Green drove down the field and would win on Trevor Moore’s 39-yard field goal with five seconds left.
1.) Middle Tennessee and FAU Play Basketball on Grass-2016
It’s a shame there’s not much video for one of the highest scoring games of all-time.
These teams combined for 1,346 yards and 133 points, as Middle Tennessee won 77-56. This game could have been played in 1916 rather than 2016 with both teams combining for 757 rushing yards. BeIN Sports always seemed to telecast explosive offensive showdowns over the past three years.
Three players ran for 200 yards in this game – Devin Singletary of FAU, and I’Tavius Mathers and Richie James for Middle Tennessee. Four players ran for three touchdowns as well, with Dennis Andrews joining the 200-yard rushers in this feat.
Richie James did everything but sell peanuts in the stands for Middle Tennessee, completing five passes for 76 yards and a touchdown, rushing for 207 yards and three touchdowns, and gaining 120 receiving yards and a touchdown on four catches.
He nearly outpassed the Blue Raiders starting QB for that game, John Urzua, falling short by three yards.
Probably the most memorable call of Mike Gleason’s career.
A simple cry of “Oh Nooo.”
This game was really not that good, but I really wanted to include this in the article in some fashion.
Truth is, FIU’s 2017 41-17 blowout win over Western Kentucky was novel since it was the only weeknight game in BeIN’s three year run of broadcasting C-USA.
This game was played on Black Friday and only competed with Virginia Tech-Virginia, and Texas-Texas Tech in prime time.
In terms of exposure, it helped that the Commonwealth Cup ended with a boring 10-0 win for Virginia Tech. If BeIN had a significant carriage base, this game could have attracted a lot of watchers, but that simply was not the case.