CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- WELCOME TO my Monday column, which is Manti Te'o-free. It is your refuge from the most overplayed story in college football history.
Shoot, that's another reason I'm glad the Internet wasn't around when I went to college, for that would have brought the very real possibility of phantom girlfriends dumping me.
Yikes! Let's scurry to other topics.
This conference scheduling thing tends to even out. Trust me on this one.
And if you're a Marshall basketball fan, you'll need such trust this week, as the Thundering Herd has its first two-game road swing in Conference USA play. The itinerary: Southern Mississippi on Wednesday, Memphis on Saturday afternoon.
The good news is this: For the first time I can remember since MU entered C-USA, the team can string this together on a single trip, even with the Wednesday-Saturday format. Fly to some airport sort of close to Hattiesburg, play that game, bus the 298 miles to Memphis, practice there Thursday and Friday, play Saturday and then bus home.
Sounds tough, but it surely beats flying Tuesday for a Wednesday game, flying back to Huntington (or Charleston) on Thursday morning, catching a few classes and then flying somewhere else Friday for a Saturday game.
Of course, it would be nice if C-USA would alter the rigid Wednesday-Saturday format, but I've always heard that most league coaches and athletic directors have been staunchly opposed. Maybe the new lineup will have a different view.
But that's the least of the Herd's problems this week. Quality of opposition is - Southern Miss is 4-0 in the league and 15-4 overall; Memphis is still Memphis. The Tigers are 3-0 in C-USA, 14-3 overall.
And keep in mind that MU's first league road foe, Texas-El Paso, sits in third place at 3-1. So when we return to this space next Monday morning, the Herd could be 2-3 with three road losses to teams with a combined 15-1 league mark.
That's as tough a scheduling break as I've seen since March 2010, when MU was forced to trek to UTEP the Wednesday before the league tournament, which was held in ... El Paso. But there is opportunity - if the Herd steals a win this week, it sits 3-2 with a big win on its ledger and a two-game homestand coming up.
That would perk up MU's season, but it's a lot to ask. The Herd has decapitated Tulsa and East Carolina in its last two home games, leading by a combined 43 points at halftime. But it hasn't beaten a Division I team away from the Cam Henderson Center this season.
In only one of those eight losses, to South Dakota State at Hempstead, N.Y., has the Herd avoided falling behind by double digits. In the last three such games, the Herd's deficits were more like abysses - 31 to Kentucky, 38 to Ohio and 20 to UTEP.
Improvement there would be encouraging, even if the Herd loses both games this week.
The pitfalls of playing on the road in Conference USA have been documented in this space from time to time over the last seven-plus basketball seasons.
Yes, MU has been in this league for nearly a decade. And the road hasn't gotten easier.
C-USA teams are 97-19 at home this season, but overall records don't mean squat - league schedules are littered with programs such as Young Harris, Spring Hill and North Carolina Wesleyan, who saved themselves the indignity of an extra bake sale with a paycheck.
A look at home and away records in C-USA games better tells the tale. This season, the home teams are off to a 15-7 start, a .688 percentage that, if maintained, would represent the largest home-vs.-road disparity in eight seasons.