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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2003 11:16 am 
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JFin,

Any reason why La Tech isn't a candidate for C-USA? Seems like they and Tulsa would be solid additions. I


What has La Tech ever done? They played one bowl game in 20 years and got slaughtered by a 6-6 acc team. They did beat SEC champion bama in 1999 - that's pretty much all they've done. They beat Cal and Bama one year when, combined, they won maybe 6 games. USM has also been a valiant road warrior - unfortunately, while they play these teams "tough" their winning percentage in these games is around 15%. USM, however, differs from La TEch in at least 3 respects. First, they have consistent fan support from 25K-30K (La tech was below 15K for much of this season); they have consistently tough teams (la tech has been horrible 2 of the last 3 years and before that it's tough to tell as they would lose as road warriors and beat up on 1AAs and sun belt teams); and third, USM, until recently, DOMINATED what you call "mid majors" in the south and east. They aren't dominating any more, but that's because those teams have improved themselves - USM is still tough and will remain so.
La Tech brings an inconsistent football program which isn't that good when it is good; their basketball is average and baseball poor. Attendance would be toward the bottom of the league. But they're in a decent league and if they improve in these aspects they'll have their chance.


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2003 11:40 am 
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I agree with your assessment of LA Tech. I went there for 2 years and one thing people tend to forget about Tech is that they are in the middle of nowhere. Ruston La without the schools is about 7,000 people give or take a few hundred. I mean they didnt even have a McDonalds until sometime in the late eighties. Its in the middle of a place that only sells beer and nothing on sunday. It has 3 bars (and those are always closed down because the owner doesnt care if your 18 or 21). I mean when looking at college football what is it all about Atomsphere right. You want to go to the game have a good time before and after and see your team win and hopefully win against good opponents. At Tech there really is not before the game atomsphere. When I was there you went to the fraternity house got drunk walked to the game and then walked back. There really isnt any excitement at the game and its a suitcase college, go there on a Saturday and there might be 10 cars in a dormparking lot which usually holds about 200 cars. Its really bad. One of the prolbems is La Tech is in a location where there are three other schools ULM and Northwestern State (which I think does have almost the same attendance as tech and better atompshere) If these schools were not there Tech would probably get 20k a game. In Louisiana thought its all about partying and celebrating before a game, dont believe me look at LSU Tulane and ULL. I like tech and everything and its a really good school for its size BUT if CUSA should take anyone else out of Louisiana, I would say ULL. I know they stink now but they add something Tech doesnt have Atomsphere a big city and they have one good mens sport Baseball and occasionally their basketball isnt too shabby either.


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2003 1:15 am 
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The above post said a lot about why C-USA wouldn't wan't La Tech. They're in a small TV market and C-USA covets the really large ones. That's why I think that they take Temple (when they leave the BE) and the Philadelphia market. There were some loud rumors about disparaging remarks made toward USM and ECU about how they should be forced out because they were in small markets. Of course, that mostly had reference to basketball.

Louisiana Tech had (a couple of years ago) something like the 40th best all-time winning percentage (Division 1A) with much of that coming on the road. They're pretty tough road warriors. They lost their coach after the 99 season I believe adn Bicknell, a great assistant, is still learning how to be a head coach so they haven't quite made it back to where they were.

What keeps the 1-A is the game or two per year that they play in Shreveport. While Ruston is not technically in the Shreveport market, the TV stations there do publicize the Bulldogs pretty often since they are only about 65 miles away.

Tulsa is a larger market but football there hasn't been good for a number of years. They have a new coach and I would expect to see a lot of improvement in the next few years.

If you were able to get two rid of two SEC members (and you talk about some long odds), my candidates would be Vanderbilt and Kentucky. For a lot of years, they have been the cellar-dwellers of the SEC. UK has done well the last couple of years but I don't know that it will last. But how do you get rid of a team that draws 70,000 consistently with 2-3 win seasons?

On second thought, the next best candidate to leave would be Arkansas if the Big XII would make a spot for them.

Back to the Sun Belt problem. If I had my druthers, some WAC, Sun Belt and C-USA teams would merge to form a 10 team conference consisting of:

Tulsa
North Texas
TCU
SMU
Rice
Houston
Louisiana Tech
Louisiana (Lafayette)
Tulane
Southern Miss

Right now, Tulsa, SMU and Louisiana are down but all three have new coaches trying to revitalize their programs. The rest should all be pretty competitive. Don't know if it will ever happen but I think that it would make a nice conference. And the farthest distance between any two teams?...Tulsa-New Orleans...700 miles.


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2003 11:42 am 
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You guys all make great points about La Tech, not gonna argue with that. Never claimed La Tech was better than So Miss. I just think that C-USA might benefit from building up rivalries between southern mid-majors, and La Tech is a southern mid-major that has actually beaten someone. Even So Miss, th emightiest of the mid-majors down here, took forever to finally beat Bama. Tons of close games, but no wins. Sadly I can't say the same for upsetting FSU. Anyway, I thought maybe La Tech had the potential for being a poor man's So Miss, (they produced Bradshaw, So Miss produced Favre), but it sounds like they have very little to offer beyond modest football success. Maybe the Sunbelt is where they really ought to be. I do think they'd improve from playing in a regional conference though. I can't imagine trying to sell a recruit on coming to Ruston based on playing Idaho every year. Yikes . . .


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2003 9:25 pm 
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ACCNOLE,

Actually I believe LA Tech and the Sunbelt had a falling out around 96. I do believe Tech was a member from the mid 80's to 96 when they left and went the independent route. It is unfortunate that these two have had falling outs La Tech could very well benefit from having a rivalry with ULL and ULM *which they have started playing again and for a small venue game its full of venom very good games*North Texas and like I have stated earlier they do play Arkansas State quite often. The Sunbelt would have a team that has beat some of the Big Boys and might even have a shot at a bowl higher up due to Techs performace *probably the Independence bowl or the Mobile Bowl*. Personally I still advocate if conferences such as the MWC and CUSA are left out of the next BCS deal which does seem likely now that CUSA splits up and forms two more regional conferences. I believe a conference such as Southern Miss, Tulane, ULL, La Tech, SMU, TCU, RICE, Houston and Tulsa would have a very good rate of sucess and the closeness of these schools would be able to build many more rivalries and such. If you would rather have a 12 team conference just add UAB South Florida and Central Florida and slipt into two divisons the East being Southern Miss UAB Tulane ULL South and Central Florida and then put Tech TCU SMU RICE Houston and Tulsa all in the west. Even thought the east is stretch out South Florida is still the greatest distance but not nearly as far as say ARMY Marquette or Cincy. Tech and the Texas and Oklahoma schools are very close. Tech is only 75 miles from the Texas border. This Conference I believe could very easily schedule some games with the SEC and Big 12 as there are several teams in this conference that have histories with several of the schools in both those conferences. I guess we will have to wait and see what developes but with Nebraska trying to pay players I really do not know how much longer college football as we know it will continue, but that is another thread for another time.


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2003 3:04 pm 
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Quote:
One of the prolbems is La Tech is in a location where there are three other schools ULM and Northwestern State (which I think does have almost the same attendance as tech and better atompshere) If these schools were not there Tech would probably get 20k a game.


I don't know how far Natchitoches is from La. Tech (never been to Natchitoches, although I have been through both Monroe and Ruston. Ruston is about the same size as Troy, Al.), but I do know that the nationally famous HBCU Grambling State (where Eddie Robinson coached for years and years) is located just down the road from La. Tech at Grambling, La. ( a few miles west of Ruston on I-20). If Grambling wasn't so close to La. Tech, they'd probably get some more folks interested.


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2003 8:02 pm 
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You are absolutely right. Grambling is less than 14 miles from La Tech and has alot more tradition and loyal supporters. I was kinda disheartening seeing so many fans go to see Grambling which was a 1AA team and pass up on a good La Tech team in 98, but That is the way it is. Grambling over the years has built a solid fan base and has many great alumni not to mention one of the best 5 college football coaches of all time.

Also I have been checking out the Sunbelt Board and there is alot of talk by Sunbelt Fans about wanting to let Troy State in. Does anyone know where this may lead. I believe Troy State would be a very good addition and I have also seen some talk of FUI *spelling?* become a sunbelt member. I do believe with the coming NCAA standards it is going to be hard on the Sunbelt to stay afloat BUT if the WAC and CUSA also fall on hard times I would like to see a Gulf South/Super Sunbelt formed. It would kinda be like the old WAC of 12. I mean you get Arkansas State La Tech ULL Tulane Southern Miss TCU Rice North Texas Houston SMU Tulsa and UCF or South Florida and you got one hell of a league or you could leave out Arkansas State or Houston *Houston has a name but they gonna have to improve over the next 3 years to survive* and you can have both the Florida teams this league would be good and would atleast be the equalivent of the old WAC. As I have stated before the Schools histories with certian teams and conferences would make scheduling BCS schools more easily. This would also allow for the building of intense rivalries and would attract more casual fan interest in the Deep South States. This is probably a pipe dream but hey its a fun one :)


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2003 3:13 pm 
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Quote:

Also I have been checking out the Sunbelt Board and there is alot of talk by Sunbelt Fans about wanting to let Troy State in. Does anyone know where this may lead. I believe Troy State would be a very good addition and I have also seen some talk of FUI *spelling?* become a sunbelt member.

Cyc, Troy State is just 60 miles up the road from me, so I'm fairly familiar with the school. TSU athletics get covered very well in hometown, and I can listen to TSU football and basketball games on the radio also. I've also taken some classes up there as well. The baseball field is very nice, and the football stadium is undergoing a much-needed facelift!!! Trojan Arena is pretty small (capacity is 4,000 seats), but that's about the only small facility on campus. TSU AD Johnny Williams would love to get into the Sunbelt, but Sunbelt commish Wright Waters has been quoted as saying "We don't want to be the home for new div IA teams." So I really don't know where TSU and the Sunbelt stand. (I'm guessing we're out of the loop for now, but could be back in the loop later). Your Gulf Coast conference sounds rather interesting!! ;)


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2003 2:41 pm 
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I host a Sun Belt board and have alerted everyone about it, so hopefully some will join in and contribute. It would be fun to revive the discussion over there as well, and maybe pass along things I find out to this site. I really think anyone that wants to be 1-A should be allowed to. Ultimately they will have to meet requirements that far exceed what the NCAA has laid out if they want to be an impact player. Another thing that could help is if the NCAA made 1-AA a more attractive alternative and allow a playoff team to make a lot of money. Right now it's a rip-off, which is why so many head for greener pastures.


I know a lot of SBC fans would love JFin's scenario:
Tulsa
North Texas
TCU
SMU
Rice
Houston
Louisiana Tech
Louisiana (Lafayette)
Tulane
Southern Miss

Are we the leftovers? That's how we started, but I feel like we're experiencing significant growth. In the second-ever New Orleans Bowl, our champion defeated the CUSA co-champion. The game also pointed out our achilles heel: attendance. Many of the schools haven't won for a long time in football. Sun Belt basketball, the big sport, is undervalued attendance-wise. This is inexcusable, but won't affect our bid for 1-A status.

These are the average football attendance figures for 2002:
New Mexico State: 22,163
Utah State (an indy in 2002): 20,992
North Texas: 15,260
Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns: 15,056
Arkansas State: 13,199 (1 alternate site game had 18,492)
Middle Tennessee: 11,163
Idaho: 10,931
Louisiana Indians: 8,470

One thing that hurts us at the gate is the wacky schedules we must have to accomodate our opponents. For example, Middle Tennessee had 27K for their first game, lost it, subsequently fell out of contention, then afterward had 3 of the 5 home games in November.

Attendance has got to improve. By the same token, I'm sure the NCAA isn't going to send inspectors to games to check attendance. They'll probably rely on an objective device like a barcode scanner that can't read the same ticket twice. If all the other 1-A requirements are met, I'm sure anyone really wanting to be 1-A can make it. What's killing ULM is that their administration will not make a public statement about their 1-A intentions, and fans are testy about this because they want to be 1-A. They could have had all-sports membership last Summer if they would have told the SBC how they intend to attack the attendance problem, but they wouldn't do it. Some think that signifies retreat, but they can make it if they want to.

Troy State is really not wanted by the league presidents, but they will receive an invite if the SBC can't find someone else. Someone asked a sports talk show host, and he said in a roundabout way that they don't like Troy's academics. I have no idea why.

Florida International just completed their first year of 1-AA football and have a 16,000 seat stadium. So in all likelihood they can't be counted on until after the verdict on our 1-A status is made in 2005. They averaged about 7,000 a game.

The Sun Belt wants Western Kentucky to be 1-A in football more than Western Kentucky does. They hosted a 1-AA playoff game and they drew something like 3,300. WKU's first love is basketball. They won the 1-AA championship so there are no more worlds to conquer in 1-AA.

I just went to Idaho's board and they expect to be allowed to join the SBC in all sports.

New Mexico State and Utah State have better attendance because they get the rivalry games home and home (e.g. New Mexico, UTEP, Utah) and the others can't get comparable home games. Plus they are able to hold their own vs. these teams.

Realignment? We'd all have better conferences if School A wouldn't conspire to keep nearby School B out. I don't think you'll see Utah-USU and New Mexico-NMSU in the same league unless they absloutely have to. I think the Sun Belt has to survive the initial 1-A purge with the teams they've got or can add without robbing another conference. The Eastern WAC teams, I'm pretty sure will take a wait and see attitude unless economics forces them to realign. I'd love to see Southern Miss in the Sun Belt but frankly I don't see it happening any time soon. I wouldn't want to move if I were a USM fan.

What I think you will see happening is an eventual swap between the Westernmost SBC teams (Idaho, USU, NMSU) and the Easternmost WAC teams (Tulsa, SMU, Rice, and Louisiana Tech). Most of the Eastern WAC teams are private schools and those volleyball junkets to Hawaii can't be something they can continue. LTU has the smallest WAC budget so they're feeling the pinch. What I hope is for Hawaii to stay in the WAC to hasten the swap for economic reasons if nothing else.

Another scenario I see happening is for Hawaii and Fresno State to bolt to the Mountain West. The WAC would probably look to replace them with two Sun Belt teams, which would cripple the football aspirations. Fresno might have a tough time affording the MWC.

One thing that makes life kind of tough for the Sun Belt is when Idaho and Utah State join, we will have eight football members, but to make that come about, we have to have 13 basketball teams (14 if ULM becomes all sports). That might not make it possible to play every team every year. As it is now with 11, we only play the other division once.

All speculation, but those are my thoughts at the moment. Thank you for providing this board and including the Sun Belt Conference in the discussion. ;)

Sorry to be so long winded.......



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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2003 10:16 am 
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cyc,

I'm with you, the C-USA split would definitely get me more interested. The football at least would be good. You'd rekindle some old SWC rivalries as well.

Claifornia Cajun,

Really enjoyed your post, though your killing my dream for a beefed up (in terms of football) MWC conference (bringing in Boise St., Fresno, and Hawaii). At least one of the non-BCS conferences better align regionally and cherry pick teams form other conferences. I want a conference worth getting excited about. My fear is that the conferences and schools will make stupid decisions and the bottom will drop out to IAA, the conferences will not improve (some will dissolve) and no one new will enter the BCS (or playoff) mix. No telling how regional and state politics will affect how things turn out.


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2003 12:04 pm 
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I am very impressed with Boise State and the strides and facility improvements of the past 25 years. Bronco Bob and I co-host a non-sports forum and I know he wants his team to wind up in the MWC.

13 schools did not make the 15K average in 2002:
San Jose State (WAC): 10,360
Houston (CUSA): 14,986
Wyoming (MWC): 13,687
Ball State (MAC): 12,849
Akron (MAC): 11,600
Buffalo (MAC): 11,244
Eastern Michigan (MAC): 10,777
Kent State (MAC): 10,086
Arkansas State (SBC): 13,199
Middle Tennessee (SBC): 11,163
Idaho (SBC): 10,931
Louisiana Monroe (SBC): 8,470
Troy State (Independent): 13,403

If these schools were lost to 1-AA, the non-BCS conferences would have this many all-sports members:
WAC: 9
CUSA: 8 (9 including 1 football only member, Army)
MWC: 6
MAC: 8 (9 including 1 football only member, UCF)
SBC: 4

The MWC must have eight teams and might very well bring in Fresno State, Boise State, and Hawaii. You can't discount the possibility of BYU moving to the PAC 10, because BYU averaged 62,176 last year and the next highest average in the WAC was Utah at 35,429.

I think the SBC has to survive the 1-A purge with the teams it has. If the WAC loses those three teams ACCNole mentioned, they might rob the Sun Belt of at least two teams to make the 8 required. My guess would be that those teams would be Utah State or Idaho from the West and the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns from the East. (I'm not unbiased because I am a UL grad). UTEP would keep New Mexico State out or else they would be selected. That would cripple the Sun Belt.

Louisville and Memphis might leave CUSA for a better basketball league, which would bring them down to 6 (including Houston which averaged less than 15K last year). Who would replace them? South Florida, I'm sure, because they're already in CUSA for the other sports. Temple after being dumped by the Big East? I know the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns would like to be in CUSA because of proximity to Houston, Tulane, and USM, but Tulane would fight to keep them out. Would Louisiana Tech be a possibility? Tulane would fight that too because they don't want in-state competition. Central Florida? Arkansas State or Middle Tennessee because of their location (neither made the 15K average in 2002)?

Too close for comfort: the following teams averaged between 15,001 and 17,999:
Louisiana Tech (WAC): 17,242
Alabama Birmingham (CUSA): 16,447
Bowling Green (MAC): 17,836
Central Michigan (MAC): 17,311
Central Florida (MAC-football only): 17,268
North Texas (SBC): 15,260
Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns (SBC): 15,056

Between 18,000 and 19,999:
Tulsa (WAC): 18,986
Nevada (WAC): 18,842
SMU (WAC): 18,292
Western Michigan (MAC): 18,877
Miami (Ohio) (MAC): 18,285
Ohio (MAC): 18,078


Sun Belt Conference Delphi Forum: http://forums.delphiforums/SBCsports/start





Last edited by californiacajun on Tue Feb 18, 2003 12:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2003 4:29 pm 
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I don't think that the movement in 2005 will be totally one conference needing teams so they take from another. There will be more effort by the commissioners to regionalize.

Of the 13 that you listed that did not make 15,000 in 2002, I believe that only six or seven are in serious jeopardy. Personally, I do not believe that five of them have a ghost of a chance making it. Who doesn't will have a lot to do with how the conferences are re-formed. Houston, for sure is an anomalie. This is probably the first time in years that they haven't averaged 15,000. They haven't done well with their poor teams but their average the last six years is just under 20,000. They have a new coach, a great recruiting class and will be back in the 20s again. I believe that Wyoming, Ball State, Middle Tennessee and probably Arkansas State can make it if they follow through on their attendance plan.

Two of the others have a different issue. Idaho will have to continue to rent WSU's Martin Stadium (at least every other year) to qualify because their facilities are inadequate. Troy State must find a conference or the scheduling of five 1-A teams will eliminate them. Someone didn't understand why Troy State's academics would be a detriment and I believe that it would be primarily because the only offer a master's degree. Since president's do the choosing, that could be a steep hill for TSU.

You mentioned the WAC taking three SBC teams; the eastern WAC teams are already looking to jump ship. Travel expenses and student acceptance are two big issues for the eastern schools. Their continued existence is nebulous, so why should any SBC schools want to make the move. Utah State, New Mexico State and North Texas have had numerous postings on their boards that they are not interested; I haven't checked the Ragin Cajun board.

Of course, the SBC can't exist without help. Wright Waters has pretty much assured the SBC members that there will be nine (or more) qualified members in 2004. What's not guaranteed is that the conference will be known as the Sun Belt. You may be right about the swapping of teams if Idaho qualifies. However, if San Jose State fails to achieve the attendance minimum and the MWC takes any teams, the WAC could not afford to lose any eastern teams. The only survival possibility is to swap one for one.

So, until we know which current 1-A members will survive and the teams that the SBC will select before the 2004 season, we can only speculate.



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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2003 6:17 pm 
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Quote:

You can't discount the possibility of BYU moving to the PAC 10, because BYU averaged 62,176 last year and the next highest average in the WAC was Utah at 35,429.

California Cajun, I do not believe it is likely that BYU will head to the Pac 10. There is a small chance that will happen, but it is small. This is because the majority of Pac 10 institutions are very liberal, and BYU is a very conservative university. Conservatives and liberals tend to clash (I know that from personal experience, and I'm a conservative), so I wouldn't expect BYU to get a Pac 10 invite any time soon, based on that alone (strange as it might sound). Also, BYU does not play basketball games on Sundays, so when you couple that stipulation in with liberal vs conservative, BYU's chances of making the Pac 10 look pretty bleak. However, that is not to say that BYU won't bolt for another conference. The Big Ten maybe considering Pittsburgh, but they've also been coveting Missouri for a long time!!
The Big 12 can easily replace Missouri w/ BYU, and the Big 12 is more conservative than the Pac 10, so that problem is out of the way. I also believe that the Big 12 could work around BYU's committment not to play sports on Sundays.


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2003 9:31 am 
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Somebody brought something up that I didn't consider. If Boise State, Fresno State, and Hawaii leave, the only Western WAC teams would be San Jose State and Nevada. UTEP is more Eastern. It could be the WAC that would be endangered and not the Sun Belt. Based on how the MWC was formed, I don't think they would hesitate to take the teams they needed.

Waters said that he doesn't want to have a reputation of "stealing" teams, nor does he want a reputation for breaking contracts on games. Instead of breaking contracts, we have some "designated" conference games to accomodate Utah State's admission for football this season.

I heard last Fall that some of the Eastern WAC teams were exploring alternatives. But they were waffling as far as joining the Sun Belt was concerned.

I can pretty much assure you that the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns will meet the 1-A based on the enthusiasm for the new coach we have. Last year we hired Rickey Bustle, long time offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech who mentored Jim Druckenmiller and Michael Vick. Vick attributes his success in part to Bustle. We have faith in this guy, which certainly was not the case with his predecessor.

Louisiana Monroe is in the shape they're currently in attendance-wise because they didn't make a coaching change before last season. The onus is on the fans to attend games or else.


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 Post subject: Sunbelt Realignment
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2003 9:04 am 
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I made a mistake in my previous posting that might lessen the chances of the scenarios I suggested coming to pass, or at least coming to pass soon.

What I did omit Air Force and San Diego State from the Mountain West lineup, which gives them nine all-sports members. They don't have to take another school to meet the requirement of eight all-sports members.

I still think there will be some movement with regards to Hawaii, Fresno State, Boise State, BYU, and a domino effect will result.


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