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Report: App. St., Georgia Southern joining Sun Belt

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The realignment wheel keeps spinning. And so does my head.

Per ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, both of the 1-AA ranks, will join the Sun Belt Conference in all sports beginning in 2015. A formal announcement is expected to come later this week.

The two programs will be ineligible for the FCS championship this upcoming season, and will also be ineligible for a Sun Belt title/postseason play as they transition to the FBS level next year.

The move, assuming it does come to fruition, would give the Sun Belt 10 football members and 12 basketball members as it continues to try to keep its head above water in the ever-shifting landscape of college athletics. FAU, FIU, Middle Tennessee and North Texas have all left the Sun Belt to join Conference USA. Georgia State, Texas State and UT-Arlington all joined the SBC within the past year.

Still not in the conference? Former WAC members Idaho and New Mexico State, for now. While football independence remains the short term answer for both, their long-term fate could include Sun Belt membership for football only. As the Idaho Statesman writes, the University of Idaho will ask the state board for permission to join the SBC should an invite come.

And you don’t ask for permission if an invite isn’t on its way.

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7 Responses to “Report: App. St., Georgia Southern joining Sun Belt”
  1. alligatorsnapper says: Mar 25, 2013 7:51 PM

    I think word came from some of the big boys (UGA Bulldogs, USC Gamecocks, Alabama Crimson Tide, etc.) that no longer would they schedule these schools since there would be a big penalty for playing non Div. 1 teams in the up and coming playoff format and these schools along with others which were previously happy to be big fish in a small pond, are now going to be small fish in a big pond to keep the money coming in.

  2. thefiesty1 says: Mar 25, 2013 8:41 PM

    Why didn’t they just join what’s left of the Big Least? They are just as good and probably better than most of the teams that remain.

  3. dmcgrann says: Mar 25, 2013 11:24 PM

    alligatorsnapper, a good point, but I see it as more defensive by the SBC. Conference To Be Named Later will probably continue to poach from C-USA, C-USA from SBC, and who knows what the B1G and SEC will do to the ACC, making the ACC poach from everywhere else as well.

    But, this is important because it signals a shift. Old Dominion, UNC-Charlotte, and Georgia State have gotten their invites to the FBS, despite being startup programs that haven’t played a single game (Charlotte), haven’t ever played a FBS team (ODU), or have had a fairly dismal record (Georgia State). Why? Because of the perception that they can deliver TV eyeballs in the Hampton Roads, Charlotte, and Atlanta TV markets.

    Appy State and Georgia Southern at least have some football history, and solid history at that. They don’t have local TV markets to deliver worth speaking of. I predict James Madison to C-USA. Old Dominion will push for that.

    Not to be ignored is the basketball breakup of the Big East. They poached the A-10 for Butler and Xavier (so far), which today poached the Colonial for George Mason. The schools that are playing football at the FCS level are going to be affected eventually.

    The other school that I know has dropped its hanky and awaits an invitation to the dance is Liberty. That will be interesting to see how it plays out, if at all.

  4. alligatorsnapper says: Mar 26, 2013 5:15 AM

    dmcgrann:

    Thoughtful analysis. From some influential Liberty alums I have heard they are “shopping around” to see what interest is available and the best deal they can make but they will make one in the next 9 months I am told.

    A good friend has family in Statesboro, GA. The fan base is excited to keep the program viable to be able to play the big boys each year, as they have been doing, and even more so. They gave Alabama a scare, and played well against the top tier. Of course, they are a perennial in their conference. Appalachian State has enjoyed its success as well. Others are problematic, as you indicated. And as you mentioned, what is this Charlotte and Georgia State inclusion, except that they would be able to deliver eyes to the tube? This may get ridiculous before it gets better.

    I am not sure if this is part of the re-alignment, though I guess technically it is. It might be survival tactics as you indicated.

    I am going to have to take Slive at his word for the moment since he has been consistent with the welcoming of A&M and Mizzou. Each school gave the SEC a much bigger footprint and viewer pool. But each school also was a member in great standing in the AAU (southernpatriots’ patriarch reminded me of this several times during the process).

    The SEC seems to be wanting to expand its brand but with strategic expansion. I do not think there will be any teams that will leave the SEC, even if they have abysmal football programs, which probably will not improve much (e.g. KY). It is just too comfortable and beneficial for them to even consider leaving, so I think the further expansion will be even more selective than recent ones because the SEC will not want to expand much bigger (2 more likely?, possibly 4?) and getting them from the ACC is very likely as you stated.

  5. cranespy says: Mar 26, 2013 8:35 AM

    Knew it was coming but it is a sad day in the So Con. The atmosphere at Kidd Brewer Stadium on a crisp fall day was magical. Knowing that the Mountaineers had a shot at challenging for a title made those Ga Southern, Furman and Wofford tilts magical. Throw in an occasional out of conference tilt with JMU, Montana or McNeese State and you had small college football at it’s finest topped off by three consecutive FCS National Championships! Now all there is to look forward to is home games against unknown opponents and a slim chance at some obscure bowl game that has zero significance. I am sure Charlie Cobb is thinking App State will be the next Boise…..make the jump, knock off a big fish now and again and develop a national following…becoming the 16th member of the ACC or BIG 12…….more likely they will remain in what is left of the Sun Belt until it ceases to exist and they end up in the CUSA which by that time will consist of their current FCSfriends except then they will play not for championships but for some stupid bowl trophy in an empty stadium with a smattering of fans. Way to go Charlie…you had something very special in Boone and you killed it. Instead of focusing so much attention on Boise you should’ve looked at once mighty Marshall. That’s the reality of being a little fish in a huge pond.

  6. fcmlefty1 says: Mar 26, 2013 11:39 AM

    Prediction I’ve had for awhile, that is apparently shared by the coach at Georgia Southern: There will be 3 classes of Division 1 (instead of the current 2) football before this is all said and done.

    1-AAA: Big 10, Big 12, SEC, PAC 12, ACC

    In between, will have to make decision (but I’d imagine will opt up to 1-AAA): “Big East”, Mountain West

    1-AA: MAC, Sunbelt, C-USA, Big Sky, Missouri Valley, Southland, Ivy*, SWAC* (* = will not participate in playoffs)

    1-A: remainder of current FCS

  7. fcmlefty1 says: Mar 26, 2013 11:42 AM

    Oops: forgot Southern in my previous post. Also, I’m sure there would be some tweaking in the conferences between 1-AA and 1-A based on individual school decisions.

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