CONFERENCE USA'S 2013-15 re-invention is long on larger television markets, short on football tradition. The newcomers won't have respect handed to them.
The six new schools had a combined 2011 record of 35-26, which means zilch. From highest to lowest, we have Old Dominion 10-3, Florida International and Louisiana Tech 8-5, North Texas 5-7 and Texas-San Antonio 4-6.
No meaning there, especially when ODU and UTSA were playing in the classification formerly known as I-AA.
And then there was the 2011 record at North Carolina-Charlotte - 0-0. Betcha it will be 0-0 this fall, too.
And that makes the 49ers the most interesting case of C-USA's third rendition. Their inclusion doesn't give C-USA much respect nationally, but that isn't the point here.
While the rest of the world harrumphs at a program starting from scratch in a city sprouting Cam Newton jerseys, the 49ers have big dreams. They have the will, and maybe the resources, to get the team going from zero to C-USA in three years.
If you're not buying it, Phil Ratliff will sell you on it. Relentlessly.
"I've been recruiting this area for going on nine years," said the 49ers' recruiting coordinator. "Walking on this campus, it's a huge campus sitting on a thousand acres. You've got 26,000-plus students; within the next two to three years it's going to be more than 30,000. In the next five to seven years, it's going to push 35,000 to 40,000 students.
"They're building new buildings on campus like crazy."
Ratliff is the former Marshall assistant, who spent the last six years as tight ends coach and bridged the Mark Snyder and Doc Holliday eras. I'm guessing the former Herd lineman and Spring Valley coach was the most well-known and well-liked Thundering Herd assistant among fans.
As Ratliff explains it, he and Charlotte were a perfect fit. First, the relationship with head coach Brad Lambert was strong, dating back to when the Lambert coached and Ratliff played for Jim Donnan at MU. Second, Ratliff's first love is the offensive line, which he will coach.
Third, he is a natural for recruiting coordinator and has an intricate knowledge of the North Carolina terrain.
Taking those factors separately, Ratliff's decision was easy. Uprooting from Marshall and leaving home was another matter. He has a daughter at Wayne High School and a son at Wayne Middle, all close to his native Louisa, Ky.
Shoot, Ratliff is in the minority in these parts: He doesn't have relatives in North Carolina.
"To leave an alma mater you love, to leave a community you love, to leave your family, my wife's family, it was definitely [tough]," Ratliff said. "But you've got to look at it; I'm 41 years old, my heart's in coaching offensive line. It's just like anything else, you're a competitor, you want to try to do the best you possibly can.