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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.