Arkansas State Red Wolves

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Arkansas State latest to dip into FCS coaching pool

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Bowling Green did it, and now Arkansas State is doing it as well.

The “it” is dipping into the FCS coaching ranks for a new assistant, with the Sun Belt Conference school announcing that Chris Buckner has been hired by Blake Anderson. Buckner will serve as outside wide receivers coach for the Red Wolves.

This will be Buckner’s first coaching stint at the FBS level.

Buckner spent the past two seasons as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Western New Mexico. Prior to that, he spent two seasons (2014-15) as the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at North Carolina Central.

Buckner, who played his college football at New Mexico State, began his coaching career at Jackson State in 2010.

Miami reportedly sued Arkansas State before being sued by Arkansas State

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It seems the legal battle between Miami and Arkansas State over a game that was never played has another layer of the onion to peel away. Before Arkansas State filed a lawsuit against the University of Miami over the cancellation of a regular season game last year, it was reportedly the University of Miami that fired off the first lawsuit in the back-and-forth.

According to A-State Nation, Miami filed a lawsuit against Arkansas State on February 13, two days prior to Arkansas State following through on its threat of pursuing legal action against the Hurricanes over the scheduling conflict. The lawsuit filed by Miami seeks to get out of the scheduling contract previously agreed to due to Arkansas State claims Miami presented Arkansas State with alternative dates in the future but Arkansas State refused to agree to either alternate date. Arkansas State, Miami claims, demanded the game at Arkansas State be played on earlier dates that were not available for Miami.

Miami also claims there was no requirement in the contract to reschedule any makeup date within a certain time frame. Miami presented options to play the game at Arkansas State in 2024 or 2025, but Arkansas State demanded the game be rescheduled in 2020 or 2021.

“ASU’s demands are unjustified and unlawful,” Miami claims in the lawsuit. “ASU has not indicated that it is unavailable or unable to play [the makeup game] on the Available Game 2 Dates.”

It would be nice if the two schools could settle on scheduling a makeup game in the future without having to resort to such legal methods, but it is also understandable why each would choose to go down these paths. Arkansas States wanted to do whatever it takes to get Miami to make their trip to Jonesboro for a football game, because it would be a huge game on the Arkansas State home schedule. From Miami’s point of view, distancing themselves from such a game in the future makes sense, because playing a road game at Arkansas State in the first place offered little incentive to Miami in the first place.

Sun Belt announces new eight-year deal with ESPN running through 2027 season

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The four letter is signing up for more #FunBelt.

The Sun Belt conference announced on Thursday that they have agreed to a new eight-year contract with ESPN that will run through the 2027 football season and the 2027-28 academic year.

“The continuation of our agreement with ESPN marks one of the most historic announcements since the Sun Belt’s founding in 1976,” Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson said in a statement.  “This is truly an ‘all in’ collaboration with ESPN, the Sun Belt, and our member institutions and the volume and accessibility of our games will have a profound impact on the future of the Sun Belt.  We have enjoyed a long relationship with ESPN since its founding in 1979 and we look forward to being featured on its newest platform, ESPN+, which promises to revolutionize how audiences view content.”

Most notably, it was confirmed that the inaugural Sun Belt Football Championship Game will be played on Saturday, December 1st and will be televised on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. Future championship games will also be on one of the three networks after the conference moved to a divisional format starting in 2018. The new deal also includes a guarantee that all Sun Belt home football games will be available on an ESPN platform and that at least 10 games will be televised on either ABC or one of the ESPN cable networks.

Naturally, many of the league’s other sports such as men’s basketball were also covered under the umbrella of the new contract. The bulk of those games from women’s basketball to soccer and beyond will wind up on the new ESPN+ streaming platform that the Disney-owned company is launching in the coming weeks.

No monetary terms were announced as part of the deal but it’s safe to assume that the TV revenues won’t be in the same ballpark as their Power Five peers such as the SEC or ACC. Still, given the challenges we’ve seen in the Mountain West and Conference USA (among others) in this new media environment, it seems the Sun Belt has locked up a quality partnership with ESPN for the long-term and granted some stability for the league in the coming years.

Sun Belt reveals 2018 schedule, first title game set for Dec. 1

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The Sun Belt on Tuesday announced its 2018 schedule, leaving the Mountain West as the only FBS league yet to reveal its slate. The 2018 season begins Thursday, Aug. 30, with Georgia State hosting Kennesaw State. The first conference game goes down Sept. 15 when Texas State visits South Alabama.

Tuesday’s announcement was significant for more than just the revelation of dates of games. It brings to a close the conference’s realignment moves that saw Idaho and New Mexico State get the boot and the league join the rest of its peers in adding a championship game. The inaugural Sun Belt Championship will take place on Saturday, Dec. 1, at a campus site and be televised on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.

The Sun Belt’s roster now consists of 10 teams, but unlike the Big 12, the Sun Belt will split into two divisions:

Appalachian State
Coastal Carolina
Georgia Southern
Georgia State

Arkansas State
South Alabama
Texas State

Appalachian State and Arkansas State have been the kings of the Sun Belt over the past three seasons, each going 21-3 from 2015-17. The Mountaineers and Red Wolves did not play in 2016 or ’17, but will square off in 2018. The two will square off on Oct. 9, a Tuesday, in Jonesboro for an ESPN2 game.

Troy has gone 13-3 over the past two seasons and split the 2017 title with Appalachian State after the Trojans and Mountaineers also did not meet during the season. That also changes in 2018 (and every season moving forward with the new divisional structure) as Appalachian State hosts Troy on Nov. 24 in a game that figures to decide the first Sun Belt East championship. Troy clinched its share of the 2017 crown with a 32-25 win over Arkansas State (6-2 in SBC play in 2017) on the first Saturday in December, and now the rematch could come in an actual championship game.

Unlike the Big 12, the Sun Belt will not play a 9-game, round-robin schedule. The Sun Belt will remain an 8-game league.


Arkansas State follows through, sues Miami over canceled game

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It’s officially on, legally, between Arkansas State and Miami.

Earlier this week it was reported that Arkansas State was threatening to sue Miami over the latter failing to play a scheduled game last year in Jonesboro amidst Hurricane Irma.  With a Thursday deadline coming and going without UM paying ASU damages being sought, the Sun Belt school followed through on the threat, with the Associated Press confirming that ASU has filed a lawsuit against UM in Craighead County (Ark.) District Court late Friday afternoon.

Prior to filing the suit, ASU athletic director Terry Mohajir had reached out to his counterpart at UM, Blake James, about rescheduling the game for either the 2020 or 2021 seasons, years in which the Hurricanes have available dates.  James responded, per the suit, that they could only reschedule the Jonesboro game during the 2024-28 seasons.

According to, The U has just two non-conference games scheduled for the 2020 season.  Miami’s argument against rescheduling the game for that season is that the dates they fill need to be played at home.  The lawsuit claims that Miami has “refused to timely and reasonably reschedule the game in years in which it has openings.”

Arkansas State is seeking $650,000 in damages as a result of a breach of contract. “This action also seeks compensatory damages, liquidated damages for UM’s breach of contract, and attorney’s fees and costs,” the suit states, adding, “The contract provides that ‘failure of a party to participate in the Game will constitute a material breach of the Agreement that will cause the other party significant disruption and damages.'”

The lawsuit also delves into the other FBS teams, primarily from the state of Florida, whose games were impacted by the hurricane that same weekend.

47. Three teams in the Florida and Georgia area still played their football games scheduled for the weekend of Hurricane Irma. Florida International University played its scheduled home game against Alcorn State in Birmingham, Alabama. Georgia Southern University also played its scheduled home game against the University of New Hampshire in Birmingham, Alabama. Florida Atlantic University played its away game against the University of Wisconsin with a delayed return back to Florida.

48. Three additional teams canceled their scheduled games, but rescheduled for the same season. Florida State played its rescheduled game against the University of Louisiana Monroe on December 2, 2017. The University of South Florida played a rescheduled game against the University of Connecticut on November 4, 2017. And the University of Central Florida played its rescheduled game against the University of Memphis on September 30, 2017.

49. The seventh team, the University of Florida, canceled its game against the University of Northern Colorado, and because the game could not be rescheduled due to conflicting schedules, Northern Colorado received a buyout for the game.

50. Upon belief, UM is the only FBS school to fail to play its scheduled game in accordance with its contract, timely reschedule its canceled game, or pay the buyout or liquidated damages under the contract.

51. Additionally, UM and Florida State immediately rescheduled their September 16, 2017 football game for October 7, 2017.