Sun Belt Conference

EVANSTON, IL- SEPTEMBER 03: P.J. Fleck head coach of the Western Michigan Broncos reacts after his teams win against the Northwestern Wildcats on September 3, 2016 at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois. the Western Michigan Broncos won 22-21. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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PJ Fleck tells Cubs to Row the Boat, and a brief look at longest conference title droughts in college football

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The World Series gets underway tonight in Cleveland. The Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs are each looking to bring an end to a championship drought that dates back over 70 years. The Cubs are playing in their first World Series since 1945. The Indians have been back to the Fall Classic a small handful of times since last winning a World Series in 1948. There are three college football programs from the Power Five that have similar droughts they continue to look to end, as far as a conference championship is concerned.

No team has waited as long to win a conference title than Iowa State, who last saw a conference championship in 1912. That came in the old Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association. That conference would pave the path to the old Big Eight Conference, which of course later merged with departing members from the Southwest Conference. As the conference has evolved, Iowa State has struggled to compete for a conference crown.

The only two conference championship droughts comparable to the current droughts of the Cubs and Indians reside in the SEC. Mississippi State has not won a conference championship since 1941 (SEC), and Vanderbilt has to go all the way back to 1923 for its last conference title (Southern Conference). Playing in the same conference as college football powers like Alabama, LSU, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia over the years has not allowed for much opportunity for either SEC program, and that likely will remain the case for many years to come.

While not quite as long of a wait, Western Michigan looks to be on track to snapping their conference championship drought that goes back to 1988. The Broncos are undefeated and have a favorable schedule the rest of the way, aside from a regular season finale against Toledo. Western Michigan head coach PJ Fleck gave the Cubs a pep talk during a stop on SportsCenter this morning.

Row the boat, Cubs (or Indians, depending on your rooting interests)!

Longest Conference Title Droughts By Conference

ACC: North Carolina State (1979)

Big 12: Iowa State (1912)

Big Ten: Minnesota (1967)

Pac-12: Arizona (1993)

SEC: Vanderbilt (1923)

American: Temple (1967)

Conference USA: Rice (1994)

MAC: Ohio (1968)

Mountain West Conference: New Mexico (1964)

Sun Belt Conference: New Mexico State (1978)

Report: Sun Belt may hold keys to LSU-Florida being played

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 17:  Leonard Fournette #7 of the LSU Tigers prepares to run the ball against the Florida Gators at Tiger Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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The flap over the postponement of the LSU-Florida game because of Hurricane Matthew continues, although an unlikely partner could hold the keys to getting the game played.

Florida has publicly stated it would be willing to buy out its Nov. 19 game against Presbyterian and play LSU in Gainesville.  LSU, which had offered to host the Gators or even play at a neutral site this past weekend, is unwilling to give up a home date Nov. 19 by buying out South Alabama in order to get the UF game rescheduled.

According to‘s Brett McMurphy, there are two viable options to getting the game played, with both options involving Sun Belt teams juggling their schedules to accommodate the LSU-UF game Nov. 19:

Scenario 1:

LSU at Florida is moved to Nov. 19;

South Alabama at LSU is moved from Nov. 19 to Oct. 29, LSU’s current open date;

South Alabama moves its Oct. 29 home game with Georgia State to Nov. 19;

Georgia State moves its Nov. 19 home date with Georgia Southern to Nov. 26, which is an open date for both Sun Belt teams.

Scenario 2 is the same as Scenario 1 (LSU at UF Nov. 19; USA at LSU on Oct. 29) with the exception of:

South Alabama moves its Oct. 29 home game with Georgia State to Nov. 12, USA’s current open date;

Georgia State moves its Nov. 12 home game with Louisiana Monroe to Nov. 26, which is an open date for both teams.

The Sun Belt teams involved, which McMurphy wrote “likely would require some financial compensation for the various expenses in rescheduling home games,” are amenable to multiple moves, while UF athletic director Jeremy Foley has previously stated he would be willing to give the home date against the FCS school in order to get what could be a key conference game played.  Foley’s counterpart at LSU, Joe Alleva, has previously stated very staunchly that he will not give up the Nov. 19 home game, although either of the two options noted by McMurphy would allow the program to keep its full complement of home games this year.

Playing the game Nov. 19 would likely also require the LSU-Texas A&M game, scheduled for Thanksgiving Day five days later, to be moved back two days to Saturday.  All involved would likely sign off on such a move.

One other potential scenario that had been bandied about, moving the SEC championship game from Dec. 3 to Dec. 10 and playing the LSU-Florida game on the vacated date, is labeled as “highly, highly unlikely” by McMurphy, specifically because the College Football Playoff committee will not hold off on releasing the final standings that will determine the four semifinalists.  That release is scheduled for Dec. 4.

If the game is not played at all, it has the potential to cause some embarrassment for the SEC as it pertains to its championship game.

Per conference bylaws, the winner of the East or West divisions of the SEC is determined by the team with the highest winning percentage. LSU currently stands at 2-1 in league play; if the Tigers win out to finish at 6-1, which would include a win over Alabama, and again the postponed game is not made up, the Tigers could lose out on the West’s spot in the conference championship game to a 7-1 Tide team they beat on the field because of winning percentage (.875 for UA, .857 for LSU).  That scenario, of course, assumes both LSU and ‘Bama handle current conference-unbeaten Texas A&M.

While the potential situation in the other division is not nearly as embarrassing as the above, it’s still a possibility.

Tennessee and Florida are currently tied for the SEC East lead at 2-1, with the Gators’ lone loss coming to the Vols. Should the Gators win out they’d finish at 6-1. If the Vols stumble twice to finish at 6-2, Florida would receive the title game berth based of winning percentage.

War of words continues over rescheduled LSU/Florida game as Tigers rule out Nov. 19

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 17:  Leonard Fournette #7 of the LSU Tigers is tackled by Keanu Neal #42 of the Florida Gators at Tiger Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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The war of words regarding the potential rescheduling of LSU’s game at Florida continued for the second straight week on Monday.

The contest was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew hitting the state over the weekend and the Tigers in particular have held firm that the game will not be played because the two schools do not share a common bye week. Many have expected that the two programs will find a way to either move or buyout their cupcake games against lower level opponents on November 19th in order to find a way to play, but that apparently is not going to happen if one side gets its way.

“What I said the other day about this game being very difficult to reschedule is still true,” LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said at a press conference on Monday. “One thing we’re going to hold very firm on is that we have a home game on Nov. 19 and we’re going to have a home game on Nov. 19. We are going to have a game on Nov. 19. We are not going to change that situation.”

LSU plays South Alabama in Baton Rouge on that date while Florida hosts Presbyterian. The cost to buyout both games is reportedly in the $2 million range but the Tigers are understandably holding a little firmer than the Gators on the matter because they bring in millions for a home game and don’t want to lose that revenue.

“The presidents and athletic directors from Florida and LSU agreed on Thursday that the schools and SEC Office would make every effort to find a scheduling solution to their postponed game,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a release. “As I have said, we need to play the game we need to have people come together to find a way to make that happen. We continue to work with the universities to play this game.”

“We understand the importance of playing this game and we want to play this game,” Florida AD Jeremy Foley added in a statement of his own. “We continue to work with the SEC and LSU to make that happen.”

Other dates being discussed include October 29th, when LSU is on a bye. That would prove to be problematic however as Florida plays their annual rivalry game against Georgia in Jacksonville and it’s doubtful the Tigers want to give up the open week before playing Alabama anyway. Playing the game on December 3rd and moving the SEC title game back a week has also been brought up but the scenario seems far-fetched given the logistical hurdles involved and the impact it will have on the postseason picture across the country.

While there’s still two months left in the season, the game between the two schools could have a big impact as to who wins both divisions. The SEC determines who plays in the championship game based on winning percentage, so there could be issues if either finished 6-1 in conference play — earning a trip to Atlanta over a 6-2 team that played all their SEC games.

It will be interesting to see what the SEC office decides to do with the matchup but it seems quite clear that both sides are really digging in to do what’s best for them when it comes to rescheduling the game.

UAB and South Alabama schedule home-and-home for 2019-2020

STARKVILLE, MS - SEPTEMBER 3: Cornerback Jeremy Reaves #1 of the South Alabama Jaguars celebrates after a big play during their game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Starkville, Mississippi. The South Alabama Jaguars defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs 21-20. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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As UAB works to make their return to college football, there is also the business of securing future football games. On Friday, the Blazers added two more future games against an in-state opponent, South Alabama. The two schools in Alabama announced a future home-and-home series to be played in 2019 and 2020.

UAB will host South Alabama on September 21, 2019. South Alabama will be the home team the following season, on September 26, 2020.

The two schools were originally slated to play a series in 2015 and 2016, but UAB’s decision to shut the football program down forced a cancellation in the series and led to South Alabama looking for other ways to fill the gaps on the schedule. As a result, South Alabama landed a two-game series with San Diego State of the Mountain West Conference, which turned in to two victories for the South Alabama program. Last weekend’s victory over the Aztecs was the first against a top 25 program in South Alabama program history. Once UAB reversed course on the decision to shut the football program down, it was expected to be only a matter of time before UAB and South Alabama could put together new plans for an upcoming series.

UAB will return to the football field in 2017, at which time they will rejoin Conference USA and retain their full FBS status.

WATCH: Spectacular TD catch helps Ark. St. end longest losing streak in over a decade

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 19:  Head coach Blake Anderson of the Arkansas State Red Wolves watches action prior to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 19, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Literally, Arkansas State tried to hand Georgia Southern a win, but neither GSU nor Omar Bayless were having any of it.

Trailing 26-20 with eight seconds remaining and no timeouts in Wednesday night Fun Belt action, ASU was set up at the GSU eight-yard line with at least two shots at, with a successful point after, a game-winning touchdown.  As it turned out, thanks to Bayless and quarterback Justice Hansen — he of the key fourth-and-16 pickup earlier in the drive — the Red Wolves needed just one shot.

The Red Wolves were able to stun the Eagles (3-2, 2-1) despite committing five turnovers, including lost fumbles on each of their first three possessions.  The win, which included a comeback from a 23-10 deficit, extended one streak for the football program while snapping another.

Entering the Sun Belt matchup, ASU had lost five games in a row, tied with Georgia State, Miami of Ohio and Rice as the nation’s longest.  It had been the program’s longest such streak since losing five in a row in 2003-04.  They narrowly averted a six-game losing streak for the first time since 2001-02.

Conversely, the Red Wolves have now won 10 straight games in SBC play.  ASU’s lost loss in a league matchup came in November of 2014 on the road against Texas State.