Three Sun Belt Schools Talking With MWC/CUSA While SBC Considers Expansion
Earlier this week, it was made known that three Sun Belt schools were talking with the new Mountain West/C-USA Alliance. University of North Texas, Florida Atlantic and Florida International as well as pretty much every WAC school are talking with them about possible membership.
Also it was made known by Brett McMurphy of CBS Sports that UNC-Charlotte and UT-San Antonio could possibly join the Sun Belt as soon as the 2013-2014 season. However nothing has yet been decided.
Louisana Tech has made it known somewhat, that they would not mind joining the Sun Belt. But they may be holding out hope of joining the MWC/C-USA conglomeration.
Other schools that have been mentioned as possible expansion talks are Appalachian State, Texas State, UT-Arlington, Lamar, Georgia Southern and Georgia State.
Georgia Southern looks good as a potential candidate being located in the Atlanta-Savannah area and right in the thick of the Sun Belt’s eastern conference schools. It has a strong fan base and a successful athletics program. However feasibilty reports done by the school shows that they would be able to move up from FCS to FBS successfully on the athletic level. But, it showed that the financial risks would be high as alumni and boosters are not eager to back the idea as much as the student body is willing to.
However according to Russel Wright of Collegiate Consulting, Georgia State could be ready to move up to the FBS level. According to him they have the finances and a good location in Atlanta to make the move. He said that the martket drives it more than their on-field product. They have an enrollment similar to North Texas and Florida International and of the $22 Million the school receives in revenues each year, about $16 Million comes from the students.
Appalachian State has made the decision to look into moving up to FBS. They have positive results from their feasibilty report completed recently and have a nationally recognized brand after the upset of then #5 ranked Michigan as they won a 3rd consecutive national title in 2007. But they are also in the eyes of the MWC/CUSA group.
UNC-Charlotte has had a successful basketball program and have appeared in the final four. They have previously been in the Sun Belt Conference and Conference-USA. They will begin playing football in the 2013 season though. But they could also be courted by the Big East since they are in Charlotte.
South Alabama knows Lamar pretty well as they completed a home-and-home series against them last season. Lamar has been pretty aggressive about trying to move up to the FBS level. They have a nice campus and a newly renovated stadium for their return to football with a huge video screen. Their addition to the Sun Belt could help North Texas to not feel left out in the wilds of Texas alone.
Texas State, UT-San Antonio and Arlington could all decide to stay in the WAC. Which would give Lamar more of a consideration by the Sun Belt.
However, the fall of the WAC was under Commissioner Benson’s watch and his rather sudden move from there to the Sun Belt has raised a few questions. But many doubt that the same will happen to the Sun Belt once he gets going fully as commissioner. But the question remains, will he be able to keep the conference going in the right direction.
In the mean time, South Alabama’s Dr. Joel Erdmann said that the school is trying to work out a deal that will have a video screen to show replays at Ladd-Peebles Stadium this season. It was not mentioned if it was going to replace an old scoreboard or if they were going the same route that the GoDaddy.com Bowl (formerly the GMAC Bowl) has done and bring in a portable screen. I believe the portable screen is the most likely of the two.
Also he mentioned they are trying to get more speakers at the stadium. Those fans who sit on the West stands know quite well how loud those speakers. Since the East side does not have speakers, they are turned up very loud so the students and fans can hear the announcers as well.