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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2002 12:40 pm 
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Here's the starting point for Sunbelt expansion/realignment issues:

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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2002 12:22 am 
My first impression...WHAT IS THE SUN BELT DOING IN HERE?! >:(

The Sun Belt is basically a bunch of leftover teams, with one hopeful (Troy State) or two (Utah State) hoping to join in...

We may have to wait 5 or 10 years before we realize how good the Sun Belt really is, no? ???


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2002 12:27 am 
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Snooping around SBC boards again and I found some interesting news. This is from an interview on the SBC official site: http://www.sunbeltsports.org/info/askthecommissioner#PASTQUESTIONS


Question (Craig Peterson): Many boosters at Utah State University would prefer to see Utah State University in a Western-based conference. If the Sun Belt Conference does expand, will it allow schools an easy "out" if a conference based nearer the school's natural region would extend an invitation to join their conference? Or would there be a condition placed on schools accepting an invitation to stay in the Sun Belt Conference for an extended period of time? Some speculation about Utah State University joining the Sun Belt Conference revolves around a possibility of the Sun Belt Conference and the Western Athletic Conference exchanging some teams in the near future to better align their members regionally. Can you comment on any talks with the Western Athletic Conference involving a "swap" of schools for better regional alignment? If you can comment on it, will you elaborate on what might happen or what has been discussed?

Commissioner Wright Waters: Craig, a couple of reactions to a very well thought out and sincere question. One, Utah State joins the league and is subject to the entire Constitutional and By-law requirements that every member is subject to. We did not ask Utah State to join based on a pre-determined number of years but rather we expect them to be members as long as the conference promotes their institution and they promote the conference's mission. There have been no formal discussions with the WAC or any other conference. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Basically, Waters says: No "formal" talks. That still doesn't rule out informal talks. Here's anoter piece of info that leads credence to the assumpiton there's been some WAC/SBC talk

Question (Brad Paramor): How do a university and a conference start the process of seeing if they are right for each other? I am a Troy State fan and would love to see them get into the Sun Belt.

Commissioner Wright Waters: It is usually very quiet conversations between interested parties to determine if interest exists by both parties, if there is mutual benefit. If that is determined it quietly escalates to the point of discussions by the decision makers of both groups and finally there is a public announcement. You try not to allow the debate to become emotional but made in an environment that allows all parties to do what is best for the institution they represent.


Basically, there are "Quiet" i.e. "informal" conversations before "loud" i.e. "formal conversations.



Last edited by tigerfan79 on Mon Nov 11, 2002 12:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2002 11:31 pm 
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utah state also wanted to join the mountain west, but the time wasn't right for expansion.

under the new ncaa rules that take effect year after next, i think you're going to see a lot of changes. for one, the end of 8-team conferences. teams need that 5th hoem game against a 1-a team, and teams like arkansas state have enough trouble scheduling one, let alone two, 1-a non-conference opponents at home. mwc and sun belt will have to add a 9th.

if conference usa expands to 12 teams, adds a championship game and that game is successful, the wac will immediately start looking for two more teams. utah state would leave in a heartbeat, likely joined by new mexico state or idaho. i fear the sun belt may not last much longer...


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2003 4:07 pm 
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sbro,

Do you think the WAC will expand and have the upper hand on the MWC? If so, how is the MWC gonna respond?

If the WAC is gonna hang on to its top teams against possible expansion attempts by the MWC, it seems like a swap with the Sunbelt is in their best interest.


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2003 8:40 pm 
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i don't think the wac will expand, and i'm not sure about the swapping of schools with the sun belt, either. i would LIKE it to happen, and it may happen in some form or another, at some time in the future, but i would bet against any more than 2 teams switching allegiances.

i think rather than expanding, the wac stands as a target for the mwc to expand. particularly hawaii, and possibly fresno state. a lot depends on the mwc's philospohy. do they stand pat with 8 members and try to improve the competition from within (to bring it to the level of, say, the basketball conference), or do they go after a performing mid-major team like hawaii or fresno to bring in extra bowl-worthy teams at the top of the conference? actually, i would probably do both -- add hawaii in 2006, fresno in 2008, but only after mwc has established its brand and finished a few seasons with more than one ranked team. recall, it wasn't that long ago when utah, colorado state and air force were all ranked highly (early 90's). it could happen again.

my thoughts on the wac are that it is too far-flung and lacks a core of rivalries. i was watching a fox sports west broadcast in october when the fresno-la tech game was discussed and the announcers made some ridiculous statement like "it's always a war when these two meet." excuse me? how many times have they played each other? there's no history there, and the lack of a uniting force and traditional rivalries makes it subject to downsizing unless something changes. like the performance of all but the top 3 or 4 teams.

in the end, i'd like to see la tech move to the sun belt and idaho to the wac. that's a start.


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2003 11:49 pm 
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By the time the dust settles, the Mountain West is going to rob the WAC of their best teams and the remnants of the WAC and Sun Belt will merge under a new name. The Mountain West will be renamed the WAC to return to pre-1996 tradition.


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2003 2:21 pm 
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i sure hope so.

mountain division:
colorado state
air force
new mexico
wyoming
byu
utah

pacific division:
boise state
unlv
san diego state
hawaii
fresno state
san jose state

would look really good, and i think the reconfigured mwc could start to work towards bcs eligibility. any team that dominates that conference should get a bid. and have the second place team play usa's #2 in the liberty bowl. this is provided usa finds a 12th team for a championship game (temple?!?!!).


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2003 5:35 pm 
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the MWC will never add San Jose State. San Jose State has serious financial and attendance problems, and may drop football like their California bretheren before them - Long Beach, Cal St. Fullerton and Pacific.

The reason the MWC teams left the WAC in the first place was that it became diluted with poor programs and too large, so that tradional rivals weren't always playing. Any expansion by the MWC will be done very carefully..

But it is coming, sooner rather than later. Logically, they can still maintain all of the "tradional" rivalries, with a 12 team conference, and get the benefit of a title game.

Fresno, Hawaii, and Boise are the logical teams to be added. The fourth would most likely be Nevada-Reno. Despite animosity between UNLV and UNR, Nevada would be the logical choice geographically, and also from quality of competition. Nevada is an up and coming program. None of the other WAC teams would be desirable to the MWC - it's almost Nevada by default.

That will leave the WAC with 5 schools (assuming San Jose State drops football). SMU, Rice, Tulsa, UTEP, LA Tech. They will merge with the Sun Belt football schools, and form a league that looks like this:

WEST

Idaho
Utah State
New Mexico State
Texas - El Paso
North Texas
SMU

EAST

Tulsa
Rice
Louisiana Tech
Louisiana - Lafayette
Arkansas State
Middle Tennesse State


This is why Troy State hasn't been issued an invite to the Sun Belt - nor are they likely to. Louisiana - Monroe has also not been asked to join as a full member - they are having serious financial problems, and are unlikely to meet the new 1-A attendance requirements. They're future likely rests in 1-AA. This WAC/Sunbelt merger will likely either keep the WAC name, or have a new name altogether. They would lose their automatic bid in Basketball either way (there is a requirement to have the same 6 full-time members over a span of time... three years, i believe.... in order to get an automatic bid to the NCAA tourney. With only 5 holdover WAC teams, they wouldn't qualify). This will not be an expanded Sun Belt, as the non-football schools would not be invited to the party (South Alabama, New Orleans, Ark - Little Rock, etc). This would also seriously damper the 1-A aspirations for Western Kentucky and Florida International, as they would no longer have a league waiting for them to join.

MWC expansion by 4 would spell the end of the Sun Belt football league.


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2003 10:33 pm 
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IF the MWC does expand by four (and that's a mighty big if) then I think that the scenario presented by ChrisG is the best bet if the Sun Belt/WAC expands to 12 teams.

There is a major problem with that particular twelve team alignment...SMU and North Texas. Their closest division opponent would be further than any of the eastern division members.

It would not be a lock that Idaho would be a member as well. The state board that approves part of the funding for Idaho universities supposedly expressed disapproval for participation in all sports due to excessive travel expenses. I understand that they meet again in March to reconsider.

If Idaho is not allowed to become a football member only then it's possible that a CUSA member might join. Failing that, the league might operate as an 11 team conference (ala Big 10) for awhile until something more regional can be resolved.


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2003 11:10 pm 
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I think ultimately Idaho will have approval to join the Sun Belt as a full-time member. There are no other alternatives for them in 1-A, and the state legislature will have to see that. MWC expansion could be several years away, so it's the Sun Belt or back to 1-AA for Idaho.

Idaho would benefit from a Montana move to 1-A. Montana would qualify with their attendance. But I believe that by law Montana and Montana State have to be in the same league, and Montana State is nowhere near 1-A level.


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2003 3:53 pm 
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If the MWC does raid for top teams, with Boise and Fresno being obvious choices, I think they'll look for steady fan support and attendance in the remaining candidates so that keeping the number of members at twelve won't be a concern (no one dropping to IAA). I think there might be serious pressure to include Utah State because of the geographic fit and the rivalries with BYU and Utah. Nevada would deifinitely be interesting. But what about UTEP and New Mexico State? My knowledge of those schools is limited, but don't they have pretty good attendance and a heated rivalry? That might give them an outside shot.

I don't think SMU will settle for the Sun Belt. As badly damaged as they are from the death penalty years ago, they have too large a following and too loyal a fan base to settle for the Sun Belt. They'll probably make a serious bid for C-USA, and some of the posters have indicated that they'll begin some serious upgrades to bring their program back into the upper echelon of college football (or at least out of the depths). The Sun Belt has to worry about some decent teams, like Idaho and North Texas, dropping to IAA because of attendance problems. I wouldn't be surprised if the new Sunbelt/WAC becomes a deep south/bayou league trying to draw regional crowds. If C-USA overloads and splits apart, some of the better sunbelt and wac teams, especially La Tech, might join a league with teams like So Miss.


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2003 10:54 pm 
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I believe that if the MWC expanded to 12 teams, they would take Hawaii, Boise State, Fresno State and either Nevada or Utah State (who are pretty equal in attendance and football strength. Utah State has the better basketball program.

I don't think that the Mountain West would entertain the 16 team fiasco again so New Mexico State and UTEP will both be in the WAC/Sun Belt consortium. SMU won't like being in that group but they have no choice. They will have to have a conference if they're to continue in 1A and there are no others available. They've already been turned down by C-USA but that could change. Until SMU can rebuild their program, which they are trying to do, their fan base is very small. They do seel a decent amount of season tickets but actual attendance is poor. North Texas shouldn't have a problem meeting the attendance requirement but Idaho might. They qualifed by renting WSU's Martin Stadium. They only draw about 12,000 to their 16,000 seat Kibbie Dome. They have been talking about a new stadium for years but appear no closer to building one. Louisiana (Lafayette) appears that they will be able to meet the attendance requirement continually but Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee could be iffy. Both will need competitive teams to attract 15,000 every year.


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2003 11:00 pm 
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Utah State is not an option in the MWC. BYU and Utah would never allow it. They blocked Utah State from joining the WAC years ago. There's plenty of hard feelings there. Plus, why add another school from Utah? What would it bring to the MWC? Nothing against Utah State, they have a nice program - but BYU and Utah are the class of that state, and bringing in Utah State does absolutely nothing for the MWC besides adding another school to split bowl dollars with. There has to be a benefit to the league for a school to be added.

Same with New Mexico/ NMSU. UNM would block NMSU from joining the MWC. And while NMSU might be one of the better programs in the Sun Belt, it's way way short of being a MWC-level program, attendence and facility-wise.

And I agree with JFin. SMU will be in the WAC/Sun Belt merger. C-USA will be adding a 12th football school, but all signs point to Temple, not SMU. All of the schools in the current Sun Belt (except Louisiana - Monroe) should be fine with attendance. They're all aggressively pushing attendance, with new incentives and promotions aimed at keeping themselves 1-A. Arkansas State's attendance has increased each of the last 3 years.



Last edited by chrisg on Thu Jan 23, 2003 11:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2003 9:58 am 
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ChrisG,

please help.... Where did you get your information referring to Temple to C-USA and not SMU.

Tks ::)


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