Don't ask me if it's a good hire because I'm never certain. Heater's Temple defense ranked 90th in the nation in total defense, but you can argue that the Owls faced long odds in their ascension to the Big East.
And if Heater and boss Doc Holliday bring Steve Dunlap along, it's no fair griping about Dunlap's single-season tenure as MU's defensive coordinator. As you should recall, the greatest defensive minds in the game couldn't have saved the 2007 Herd defense.
That was a little eye-popping, but I am really offering that in the context of the future of Conference USA basketball. As you know, the league loses its turnstile gorilla, Memphis, which is averaging 16,031 thus far this season. (The Tigers will lead the not-so-brave new Big East, as well.)
Texas-El Paso is a solid-but-distant second at 8,336 and Marshall - surprise! - is third at 5,408. From experience, three other schools could be ahead of the Herd in many seasons: Alabama-Birmingham, Tulsa and Central Florida. All three are down a bit, sitting below 4,500.
(Bear in mind, all figures are likely to go up with conference play. That includes Marshall, which has four attractive Saturday dates remaining.)
C-USA loses Memphis, Houston (3,808), Southern Methodist (3,211) and UCF (4,424) after this season. After 2013-14, the league is due to lose East Carolina (4,414) and Tulane (1,800 and likely fudged).
The league will gain, from best to worst, Old Dominion (6,675 in a brutally down season), Charlotte (5,603), North Texas (3,439), Louisiana Tech (2,385), Texas-San Antonio (1,051) and Florida International (834) next year. The year after (or maybe earlier) will be Middle Tennessee (5,004) and Florida Atlantic (1,209).
Some good, some middling, some really ugly. One look through those eight schools, and you'll see three good new basketball rivals for Marshall.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock