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Maverick

Posts: 986 Member Since: 07/27/11

Maverick

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Jun 23 12 8:39 AM

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I ran across thos article from the Dothan Eagle, which has a Troy University point of view, about the Sun Belt's latest expansion.

http://www2.dothaneagle.com/sports/2012 ... r-3985937/

[quote][Sun Belt Commissioner Karl] Benson and Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr., who is Troy University’s chancellor and is the Sun Belt Conference Executive Committee President, both believe the Sun Belt is in better shape now than before realignment hit.

UT-Arlington has invested more than $80 million in athletics, with plans for $17 million more in expansions. UTA puts the Sun Belt back in the Dallas-Fort Worth market. Texas State’s campus in San Marcosis is 32 miles from Austin and 50 from San Antonio.

Georgia State gives the Sun Belt an Atlanta presence. All three new schools join the conference officially on July 1, 2013, when UNT and FIU depart.

“We anticipated change,” Hawkins said. “We didn’t get washed away by change. The Sun Belt Conference today, in my estimation, is stronger. We’re stronger academically and athletically.

“It’s a conference going like this (Hawkins points upward). I’m not sure all conferences are going like this. I think we’ve passed two, and may be on the verge of passing a third, without mentioning names.”

Do you all think he is accurate? I think UTA will come in and compete right away in the SBC and only get better as we move on. I think the top level talent in the SBC is similar to the Southland, but it is the bottom-tier that is different. There is no Nicholls St in the Sun Belt, and that, to me, makes the difference.

I looked at teams in other conferences in D1-A from a school-by-school comparison of the athletic program and feel we are on par with about half the C-USA programs, all of the Mid-American and a about three or four in the Mountain West. I even think, basketball aside, they are catching up to the Big East. Since every realignment move made at the D-1A level has been made with football in mind, with the WAC and us with the SBC as the exception, it has really hurt a lot of conferences overall. Big East basketball gains nothing with SMU, Houston and Central Florida. UNT, UTSA and Florida International in C-USA are equal or less than us, in what we offer. San Jose hasn't been competitive in the WAC, so I doubt they will be in the MWC. Utah St was on par with us, as is current members Wyoming and Air Force.

I think Troy's chancellor has a point. I believe the SBC is one of the few conferences that are better than what they were before. And on top of that, the geographic footprint is quite compact particularly within the divisions, with only Florida Atlantic as the outlier.

[quote]“We wanted to avoid that life support system,” Hawkins said. “We didn’t want to be in a desperate situation. What we also wanted to avoid was being a threshold conference. We didn’t want to be a threshold conference for any institution that was just looking for a step up. If an institution didn’t bring something to the table, we weren’t going to look at them.”

Hawkins didn’t mention other schools’ names, but he didn’t have to. The WAC, next year, has only two football-playing schools in New Mexico State and Idaho. That’s two schools victimized by location, small media markets and a low quality of athletics. The Sun Belt could have taken them to make 12 football schools, but didn’t.

I find this interesting. I don't believe New Mexico St has a low quality athletic department. Their basketball program is quite competitive, as is their baseball program. The rest of their department is on par with us. Geographically, I wouldn't want them in the conference, as I like the compactness, but I see nothing wrong with them and Idaho becoming football members. They were once before and if the added revenues from hosting a conference championship game can cover the existing all-sports members increased travel costs, it is worth it. The problem I see with SBC football right now is that with 10 conference teams, that means nine conference games, which leaves only three non-conference opponents. Every team will have at least one guarantee game, which leaves only two to try and increase RPI. Since less than half will be able to do so, the conference will continue to be ranked lower.

However, with an extra game, they could target lower level C-USA or MWC schools with that extra game. While I don't think they would ever pass C-USA as a whole, having several teams better would help tremendously. Same with MWC.
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Duck

Maverick

Posts: 623 Member Since:03/04/11 Maverick

#1 [url]

Jun 24 12 2:45 PM

Re: The Sun Belt's expansion

[quote]Geographically, I wouldn't want them in the conference, as I like the compactness.....
You have identified the key. The Sunbelt seems to be ahead of the curve. Eventually the geographic pressure on conferences like C-USA, MWC and The BE will force them into another round of realignment that the 'belt has neatly anticipated.

Too bad NMS and Idaho are getting such a raw deal because of their isolation, but they'll have to make whatever arrangements they can.

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UTAMavalum83

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Posts: 142 Member Since:07/13/11 Senior

#2 [url]

Dec 8 12 12:55 PM

Re: The Sun Belt's expansion

Looks like the AD is making a long-term commitment to the Sun Belt; at least that's his comment on the Department site:

http://www.utamavs.com/genrel/120312aaa.html

I for one am pleased to see Mr. Baker make it clear UT Arlington plans to stay with the 'Belt for years to come. And perhaps someone should create a title/place for the Sun Belt on the Board index, no?

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FoUTASportscaster

Maverick

Posts: 986 Member Since:07/27/11 Maverick

#3 [url]

Dec 9 12 10:59 AM

Re: The Sun Belt's expansion

Not to sound cynical, but that is the line that every school says. If I remember right, Utah was committed to the MWC, Memphis to C-USA and TCU to the Big East.

That said, I think the Sun Belt will be a stable long term home for UTA. Aside from the Missouri Valley, there isn't a much better home, and I don't think we are quite within the MVC footprint. Every other conference above the SBC either doesn't fit (we aren't getting a Big 12 invite anytime soon) or are looking for a football team (C-USA is looking for football schools).

Then football seems to be in the equation. The move to the WAC doesn't make sense without football. It works for Denver or Seattle, who would have lower travel costs, but for us on the very edge, this just screams we are seriously considering adding a program.

As far as football goes, the Sun Belt finished above the Mountain West, Mid-American and Conference USA this year. Given that the WAC's last football game is Dec. 27, the SBC will be the best non-BCS conference heading into next year using this year as a base line, according to Sagarin (odd considering the WAC and the SBC are the two conferences that folks are using as springboards(but TV is controlling everything)). When you consider that the two teams the SBC is losing this year are in the last half of the conference, that doesn't seem to be a big issue.

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Duck

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#4 [url]

Dec 11 12 9:58 PM

Re: The Sun Belt's expansion

[quote]When you consider that the two teams the SBC is losing this year are in the last half of the conference, that doesn't seem to be a big issue.
I thought the Belt was losing four schools: FA, FI, MT and NT. Either way, we cannot go long without Football if we want to be a "full" member of the Belt. I imagine there will be something in the works if the new president is not anti-football.

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FoUTASportscaster

Maverick

Posts: 986 Member Since:07/27/11 Maverick

#5 [url]

Dec 12 12 7:52 AM

Re: The Sun Belt's expansion

I know FIU and UNT are in their last year in the SBC. I believe FAU and MTSU will play next year in the SBC and then leave for C-USA.

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hooch

Posts: 131 Member Since:11/15/11 Senior

#6 [url]

Dec 13 12 7:08 AM

Re: The Sun Belt's expansion

With the news about the seven, non-football schools thinking about leaving the Big East and join teams from the A-10 and a couple MVC schools, do any of you foresee where UTA does the same thing and just hedges its allegiance toward a conference solely dedicated to basketball?

That realm of possibility never occurred to me until I read about that situation with the Big East. All along, I thought it was a foregone conclusion that football was coming back after the jump to the WAC then the Sun Belt.

But now, I have my doubts, and I think there's definitely a scenario where they "look" into adding football, find out it's not economically feasible and then possibly bolt to a basketball-only conference (which is where I think things are headed, schools are tired of being directed solely on football).

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UTArlingtonMaverick

Posts: 197 Member Since:08/09/11 Grad Student

#8 [url]

Dec 15 12 8:10 AM

Re: The Sun Belt's expansion

I don't think football is truly in the equation. It will get discussed, but that's as far as it will go. I don't think who becomes president really matters in this.

I'm glad to see Baker make a statement supporting our long-term membership in the Sunbelt. It means something that contributes to conference stability. That said, it is every man for himself in conference realignment. That statement can change in a hurry if it has to. Fo, is right, everybody makes those statements. In our case, however, I believe there is a level of truthfulness that is lacking for many other such supposed expressions of support for whatever conference.

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FoUTASportscaster

Maverick

Posts: 986 Member Since:07/27/11 Maverick

#9 [url]

Mar 26 13 10:11 AM

Re: The Sun Belt's expansion

The Sun Belt finally made their long-anticipated move, adding Georgia Southern and Appalachian State as all-sports members and Idaho and New Mexico State as football-affiliates.

It fulfills several goals. All-sports will be split into divisional play, lowering travel costs. Imagine a scenario where round-robin play had us traveling to every campus, instead of the five closest and half of the others. There is something to be said for that type of scheduling, but for mid-level conferences, saving that money will be more valuable.

As it stands now (heavy emphasis on now), the east will comprise Georgia St, Georgia Southern, Appalachian St, Troy, Western Kentucky and South Alabama while the west will be us, Texas St, Arkansas St, UL-Lafayette, UL-Monroe and Arkansas-Little Rock.

For football, it introduces a championship game, which supposedly brings in additional revenue. I don't know how much more it will fetch, and if it will cover the increased costs of travel and hosting the game, but it seems to be the right thing. The cautionary thing is just how far NMSU and IU are from the rest of the western SBC-football teams (TxSt, ULaLa, ULMo and Ark St). The east is nice and compact (Geo St, Geo So, Appy, Troy, WKU and USA).

It also sends the message that football is not on the immediate horizon for UTA. I hesitate to trying to predict anything on the lightning fast change of pace that conference realignment is, but adding schools to get to 12 wouldn't suggest there has been dialogue about UTA football with the conference. 13 is also an unwieldy number to work with and schedule (the MAC has been trying to figure out ways to get past that for a while).

Adding Idaho seems to verify this. Idaho has had one winning season since 2000, have a sub-par FB facility and is over 1400 miles from the nearest team, NMSU. Idaho is 2000 from Tx St, 2000 from Ark St, 2200 from UL-M, and 2300 from UL-La. At least NMSU is "only" 1100 from Ark St, 1000 from UL-La, 950 from UL-M and 600+ from San Marcos. There is a reason that the rumor mill had them going back to 1-AA and the Big Sky.

The thought process could be that NMSU and/or IU could find homes quick if something in the west changes, but I just don't see it. I doubt that Pac-12 expands past 12. They seem to be content to share their revenues with the current base and not dilute it further. The MWC could go to 14, but that isn't likely since they could have already. Their best bet would be for the Big 12 to grab a team or two from the MWC, then they'd look alright. But considering the Big 12 hasn't even entertained the idea of expansion for a year or two. Their conference revenues are second only to the SEC, but with only 10 members, they have the highest revenue per school in the nation. I just think that alone keeps them static. So for the time being, Idaho stays in the Big Sky in all-sports and NMSU in the WAC. That means this SBC version is likely to stay a bit. There are always asterisks, as Ark St and WKU are the next in line for the jump elsewhere, but as of now, things look stable in the SBC.

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Duck

Maverick

Posts: 623 Member Since:03/04/11 Maverick

#10 [url]

Mar 26 13 9:37 PM

Re: The Sun Belt's expansion

[quote]There are always asterisks, as Ark St and WKU are the next in line for the jump elsewhere, but as of now, things look stable in the SBC.That all rings true including your caveat about changes. I would also add ULL to that rumor mill. As for our chances of getting football, I would think the ball has to start rolling from the students. Does anyone detect even the hint of a student-led movement? I didn't think so.

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FoUTASportscaster

Maverick

Posts: 986 Member Since:07/27/11 Maverick

#11 [url]

Mar 27 13 8:35 AM

Re: The Sun Belt's expansion

I should have added that the Big East is adding Tulsa, so the rumor mill has WKU taking their place. I wonder though, for several reasons. One, wasn't the point of C-USA getting to 14 so they could weather a few teams leaving. Though I did hear they may want to get to 16, so who knows.

And two, Sun Belt, based on last years conference RPI, is the most competitive football conference of the group of five. The losses of FAU, FIU and North Texas does little to change that. MTSU was good, but were not among the four SBC teams that went to a bowl.

Three, I wonder if New Mexico State would be a candidate. A travel partner for UTEP, a good basketball school (who fits that bill now?) and a sizable athletic budget. I have heard concerns of C-USA becoming too eat-focused. I have also heard concerns of C-USA being to Texas-heavy. This solves both of those issues.

[rant]Personally, I think this whole thing is rediculous. SMU, Houston, South Florida, Central Florida, Tulsa, Tulane, East Carolina, Memphis and Cincinatti were all in C-USA at one point. In the quest to up themselves, they have stayed static. A few teams have truely bettered their lot, Louisville, Utah, TCU. UTSA maybe, but in the watered down C-USA, is it really that better than the SBC or WAC was?

And the funny thing is that this is all driven by TV money. So instead of ESPN offering up C-USA a decent contact in the beginning, all these schools had to leave to get it, but the product will be the same.

This is exactly what the NCAA argued would happen before the Supreme Court in the early '80's, but the SC said said that schools were already chasing the dollars. I wonder if they would change their minds if they could see what was happening today.[/rant]

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GiantBenMav

Alumni

Posts: 334 Member Since:03/01/11 Alumni

#13 [url]

Apr 2 13 9:26 PM

Re: The Sun Belt's expansion

Probably not, but rest EASY SBC fans ... Liberty or James Madison is hear to come to the rescue

Buddy Christ Says: Go Mavs !!!

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UTArlingtonMaverick

Posts: 197 Member Since:08/09/11 Grad Student

#16 [url]

Apr 3 13 9:13 PM

Re: The Sun Belt's expansion

Don't want to put words in Fo's mouth, but it is probably the same beef that many Sunbelt fans are expressing on the Sunbelt board. If Liberty is added, I expect there will be a melt-down by many on that fan site.

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UTAMavalum83

Senior

Posts: 142 Member Since:07/13/11 Senior

#17 [url]

Apr 3 13 9:46 PM

Re: The Sun Belt's expansion

UTArlingtonMaverick wrote:
Don't want to put words in Fo's mouth, but it is probably the same beef that many Sunbelt fans are expressing on the Sunbelt board. If Liberty is added, I expect there will be a melt-down by many on that fan site.


Everyone needs to get over that; Liberty has developed an good reputation as an academically sound, faith-based institution. They'd be an excellent addition to the Belt. I hope it eventually happens; it would also be good to have an SBC member in Virginia.

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grumpdogg

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Posts: 110 Member Since:03/02/11 Junior

#18 [url]

Apr 3 13 11:40 PM

Re: The Sun Belt's expansion

At this point I think would have preferred for us to just go back to the Southland Conference. I don't see any of the schools in the Sunbelt helping us with our problem of getting butts in seats...

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UTArlingtonMaverick

Posts: 197 Member Since:08/09/11 Grad Student

#19 [url]

Apr 4 13 8:02 PM

Re: The Sun Belt's expansion

Per ArkansasStateFan, Liberty was discussed at a Sunbelt board meeting (presidents), but nobody even made a motion to add them. Looks like they are a no-go at this point. Whatever Liberty's merits, and they seem to have a few, they for sure have a wide-spread negative image problem.

BTW, ArkStateFan is one of the intelligent and informed posters. I rate his credibility high, but, as always, you can take things on fan sites with a grain of salt sometimes.

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FoUTASportscaster

Maverick

Posts: 986 Member Since:07/27/11 Maverick

#20 [url]

Apr 5 13 6:19 AM

Re: The Sun Belt's expansion

My problem with Liberty is two-fold.

The first is that their athletic department is not that great. Basketball made the tourney, yes, but they did it with a losing record. Their football team is average for FCS, meaning they would be a 1-4 win team at FBS. Their baseball team is around .500 or so. The softball program is .500 at best most years. Only women's basketball and volleyball have done well this year, and I think a lot of that is due to their conference. The Big South is usually rated lower than the Southland in most sports. I just don't think their are that good.

The second is personal. If your founder and very visible person is as divisive and caustic as Jerry Falwell, then there will always be that type associated with your U, fair or not. I don't want that to taint UTA's endevours.

And I agree with Grumpdog. I am on the fence on Appalcian and Georgia Southern, but if we are getting to the point where we are inviting Liberty, I think a move back to the Southland is preferred and we can try to help restore that conference's basketball reputation and maintain or increase the baseball and softball standards. Women's basketball and Volleyball are already near middle of the pack, and near par with the Sun Belt.

I also think that if Liberty is invited, La-La and Ark St are actively looking for the exit. If that happens, then the SBC will be almost where the WAC is now. Since football is driving the bus (sigh), I can see where ASU and GSU have merit, since they are two of the most competitive teams in FCS, and have 8 combined titles (I think 8). Liberty is a warm body, and a conference looking for bodies is on the decline (WAC?).

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