Three Sun Belt Schools Talking With MWC/CUSA While SBC Considers Expansion

March 15, 2012 · Filed Under Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

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 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.

Doing The Conference Shuffle 2010 Edition

June 6, 2010 · Filed Under Football, News · 1 Comment 

Some interesting things have popped up lately about conference expansion/realignment. There have been speculation about the Big10 (actually 11 teams) grabbing at least one more team to make the NCAA required 12 teams in order to have a conference championship game.

The Big10 (actually 11) first inclination was to offer to Notre Dame who already has some well established rivalry games within the conference. They are in the right place in the region and, well, it just plain makes sense. However, Notre Dame holds onto this notion that they are special and that their name means something in College Football. Unfortunately, it only does to Notre Dame alums, elderly college football fans and Lou Holtz. If you face the facts like Kirk Herbstreit said on College Gameday late last year, Notre Dame has been irrelevant for about 20 years. The best thing for the Irish to do is to join the Big 10 (actually 11) while they looking for a 12th team.

Other Big10 (actually 11) candidates would be getting Connecticut as well as luring Syracuse and Rutgers to the fold. This would bring in the New York market and money. But UConn isn’t part of the AAU. Plus they aren’t that good anyway.

Next on the list would be Missouri. Pulling them from the Big 12 might prove to be a tough proposition but Mizzou fits in much better than UConn, Rutgers or Syracuse. The bottom of the short list has Pitt. They are rivals to Penn State and the Big 10 (actually 11) is already in Pennsylvania. Nebraska is another Big 12 school that could be lured to the Big 10 (actually 11) and would fit in like Missouri.

The Big 12 has given both schools, Nebraska and Missouri, a deadline of Friday at 5pm to tell them what they are going to do. If they don’t meet the deadline, then another very interesting twist could unfold.

The Pac-10 is also looking to expand their ranks. If Mizzou and Nebraska fail to meet the deadline then six Big 12 schools could possibly bolt the conference for the Pac-10. Those teams would include Texas and Oklahoma. The Big 10 (actually 11) has not formally extended any invitations to anyone but continues toward trying to land a major program. Texas is in play for every league exploring expansion.

Mike Slive, commissioner of the SEC Conference is currently sitting atop the mountain right now. The SEC is the superconference that everyone wants to be like. The Big 10 (actually 11) wants to join them on that mountain as another superconference. Slive is ready to react if the Big 10 (actually 11) expands to 14 or even 16 teams.

Some people have said that the SEC would be ready to extend an invitation to Texas and Texas A&M. Other possible schools could be Florida State, Clemson or Virginia Tech. Tech was actually being courted when the SEC was looking to expand last time but they added Arkansas instead. Some Georgia Tech fans might try to pull for their school but they don’t really fit the SEC model.

So all of this talk about Big 12, Pac-10, Big 10 (actually 11) and SEC but what does it mean for South Alabama? Could USA be the dark horse and sneak into the SEC? Doubtful at this time. But with this talk of superconferences what about a merger between Conference USA and the Sun Belt?

Looking at football schools, this would bring together South Alabama, Western Kentucky, Arkansas State, Louisiana Lafayette, Florida International, Middle Tennessee State, North Texas, Louisiana Monroe, Troy and Florida Atlantic together with Alabama-Birmingham, Memphis, Southern Mississippi, Tulane, Houston, Central Florida, Marshall, Rice, SMU, UTEP and Tulsa for a very large conference.

Do they need all of those schools? Not really. Who to pick for a 16 team conference? South Alabama, UAB, Louisiana Lafayette, Louisiana Monroe, Southern Mississippi, Troy, North Texas, Houston, UTEP, Tulsa, Memphis, Central Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee State, (Marshall, Rice or SMU). But what would be better would be if this new megaconference (not quite a superconference) could lure someone like East Carolina, Georgia Tech or Clemson to the conference.

But how all this will shake out is anyone’s guess at this point. The ball is in the Big 10’s (actually 11) court with Notre Dame. If they can convince them to join, it’s mostly all over from there. The PAC-10 will still probably look to expand but trying to convince six Big 12 schools to join them would be infinitely more difficult if Missouri and Nebraska do not have to face a choice of joining the Big 10 (I won’t mention the 11 this time) or staying put.