Just used this on the CUSA forum but think it could be useful for Sun Belt expansion
In case anyone is interested, 2011 home attendance figures.
1. Appalachian St. 183,479 (26,211)
2. James Madison 125,010 (25,002)
3. Montana 199,023 (24,878)
4. Yale 118,648 (23,730)
5. Jackson St. 138,996 (23,166)
6. Old Dominion 138,726 (19,818)
7. Delaware 114,111 (19,019)
8. Florida A&M 74,985 (18,746)
9. South Alabama 110,654 (18,442)
10. North Dakota St. 163,284 (18,143)
11. Ga. Southern 141,605 (17,701)
12. Jacksonville St. 86,128 (17,226)
13. Montana St. 119,499 (17,071)
14. South Carolina St. 82,302 (16,460)
15. Liberty 98,515 (16,419)
Sun Belt attendance (per game)
UL Lafayette 29,171
Arkansas State 21,257
*South Alabama 18,442
Middle Tenn 18,402
*Texas State 15,106
*Georgia State 14,286
I think if I'm Karl Benson, I'd add Appalachian State and James Madison right now. Both in states where CUSA are adding. I'd also consider WAC favorite Lamar (14,483) and former member New Mexico State (15,138) if the Aggies are not considered to far away. You probably have to fight the MAC for JMU (who should also consider Delaware).
Then if I'm Karl Benson, I would encourage my schools to schedule as many games against lower ranked CUSA/MWC teams as possible. Have Appalachian State and Middle Tennessee play Charlotte and ODU not ECU. Get Arkansas State,and Louisiana to play UTSA and Tulane not so much Southern Miss and Tulsa. Let Troy take on UAB. If you add NMSU have them play UTSA (along with your rival the Lobos). They should seek out any weak team in a higher profile conference. I know you can't protect all your schools but Arkansas State and Troy have been the Sun Belt's better programs and should be competitive against schools like Memphis, Duke, Ole Miss and possibly Temple. Any win against a higher recognized league will raise the Sun Belt's profile.
I think this would make the strongest Sun Belt.
Sun Belt East
FAU, Georgia State, Middle Tennessee, South Alabama, Troy, APPALACHIAN STATE, JAMES MADISON
Sun Belt West
Arkansas State, Louisiana, UL-Monroe, Texas State, Western Kentucky, LAMAR, NEW MEXICO STATE
NMSU maybe to far away but would be very competitive in the Sun Belt. Could possibly be travel partner for Texas State.