Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks

STATESBORO, GA - NOVEMBER 29:  Head coach Willie Fritz for the Georgia Southern Eagles hoists the Sun Belt Conference trophy after his team defeated the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks on November 29, 2014 at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Georgia. Georgia Southern won 22-16.  (Photo by Todd Bennett/Getty Images)
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WATCH: Sun Belt hails arrival of championship game with hype video

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Summer is the time for blockbusters, so it makes sense the Sun Belt marked yesterday’s blockbuster announcement with a movie trailer-styled hype video.

Beginning in 2018, the Sun Belt will become the 10th and final FBS conference to hold a championship game, once Idaho and New Mexico State have seen the door shut behind them and Coastal Carolina takes their place.

“It’s exciting to know that we’ll join the other nine FBS conferences in holding a championship game,” commissioner Karl Benson said. “The first weekend of December has truly become ‘championship weekend’ in college football. To be able to participate in such a great event is something that coaches, student-athletes and fans will all embrace.”

While details are still being iron out, splitting into two-five team divisions with an eight-game schedule and a championship game at a campus site is the leader in the clubhouse at the moment.

“I think in the early stages, the route that we will take will be on one of our campuses — (not) to predict or speculate five years or seven years into it — but right now, we can expect that it will be on one of those campuses,” Benson said.

Sun Belt announces creation of title game; last league to do so

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Welcome to the postseason party, Sun Belt.

Earlier this month, the Big 12 announced that it had voted unanimously to reinstate the conference’s title game following the 2017 regular season.  A couple of days later, and following up on multiple reports, the Sun Belt has decided to create its own league championship game, only theirs will wait to kick off until after the 2018 regular season.

The league made the announcement at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

“This is a historic moment that represents yet another step forward for the Sun Belt Conference,” said commissioner Karl Benson. “The membership of the Sun Belt has been engaged in a significant number of advancements for the betterment of the league – to an extent this is the culmination of those efforts. …

“Sun Belt football student-athletes will make everlasting memories playing in the championship game during the upcoming years. This championship will be a first-class experience –- and we look forward to it being a launching-pad for a team to reach the College Football Playoff’s ‘New Year’s Six’ bowl games.”

Prior to today’s announcement, the SBC was the only FBS league that either didn’t already contest a league title game or have one in the works.

Like the Big 12, the SBC benefitted from the deregulation of championship games earlier this year, with the nine FBS conferences, by a 7-2 margin, voting to permit leagues with fewer than the mandated 12 members to hold title games.

The SBC is currently an 11-team conference, but will lose Idaho and New Mexico State following the 2017 season.  However, Coastal Carolina will become a full-fledged FBS member for the 2018 season — they’re joining the conference in football on a provisional basis in 2017 — bringing the league back up to the minimum of 10 members.

The conference has not yet decided whether it will split into two, five-team divisions.  Also to be worked out: whether the title game will be played at a neutral site or at the home stadium of the team that finished with the best record.

Idaho, NMSU out as Sun Belt members after 2017

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Apparently, Idaho’s sales pitch wasn’t as compelling as they’d like.

Two weeks ago, Idaho unveiled a 19-slide presentation aimed at continuing their football membership in the Sun Belt Conference, membership that was initially granted to both themselves and New Mexico State on four-year terms that are set to expire following the 2017 season.  Looking for an extension, both football programs will instead be looking for new homes in a couple of seasons.

What does the denial of extension do to the two football programs impacted by the decision? For the Vandals, it likely means dropping down to the FCS level and joining the Big Sky conference, where there other varsity sports are currently housed. For the Aggies, whose other sports play in the WAC, which doesn’t offer football, another go as an FBS independent will likely be in the offing.

With the impending departures of Idaho and New Mexico State after the 2017 season and the addition of Coastal Carolina for that season, the SBC will settle in with 10 members two years from now.  That 10-member lineup would feature teams from Texas (Texas State), Arkansas (Arkansas State), Louisiana (Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe), Alabama (South Alabama, Troy), Georgia (Georgia Southern, Georgia State), North Carolina (Appalachian State) and South Carolina (Coastal Carolina).

With the recent decision by the NCAA to deregulate conference championship games, the SBC will still be able to conduct such games with just 10 members instead of the previously-mandated 12.

UPDATED 2:51 p.m. ET: Idaho confirmed in a press release that the Sun Belt Conference has opted to go with a 10-team league following the 2017 season, putting them and New Mexico State on the outside of the conference looking in two seasons from now.  The release also stated that the university will now decide whether to accept an invitation to join the Big Sky of the FCS or compete as an independent at the FBS level.

Matt Wells makes tweaks, addition to Utah State staff

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 09:  Head coach Matt Wells of the Utah State Aggies watches his team warm up before their game against the UNLV Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium on November 9, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Utah State won 28-24.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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A couple of tweaks to coaches already in the building as well as an addition from outside the program has given Matt Wells‘ Utah State a different look heading toward spring, the school announced Tuesday.

Passing-game coordinator and wide receivers coach Jovon Bouknight has been promoted co-offensive coordinator of the Aggies. Bouknight, entering his eighth season at USU, will continue to coach receivers.

The other co-coordinator, Luke Wells, brother of the head coach, will continue to serve in that capacity, but will give up his job as tight ends coach. Instead, the co-OC will take over as quarterbacks coach from Josh Heupel, who left Logan last month to become the coordinator at Missouri.

“We are excited to announce Jovon and Luke as our co-offensive coordinators,” said Matt Wells in a statement. “They both have extensive experience in our offense and have been successful position coaches during their time at Utah State.

“As we move forward with our offense, I will be heavily involved in the game planning and will call the plays during games. We have time during spring ball to work through this and I am excited to work with Jovon and Luke in making our offense better.”

In addition to the shuffling on the offensive side, Wells made an addition on that side as Steve Farmer was introduced as USU’s line coach.  The past six seasons, Farmer served as offensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Louisiana-Monroe.

“We are excited to announce the hiring of Steve Farmer as part of our coaching staff,” said the head coach. “Steve has an extensive background in playing and coaching the offensive line, as well as success as an offensive coordinator. He fits very well into our scheme and has had experience in spread offenses and coordinating the run game. We welcome Steve, his wife Amy, and their two children to the Aggie family.”

Smart, Richt currently pace all new head coaches in recruit rankings

CORAL GABLES, FL - DECEMBER 04:  New University of Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt makes the 'U' sign after he was introduced at a press conference at the school on December 4, 2015 in Coral Gables, Florida.  (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)
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In somewhat of an ironic twist, the head coach who was forced to leave Georgia and the coach who replaced him are doing quite well on the recruiting trail at their new programs.  In fact, they’re doing better than any other who found a landing spot in the 2015-16 spinning of the coaching carousel.

As it stands now, Miami’s Mark Richt has the 19th-ranked recruiting class according to Rivals.com, the second-best of any of the  27 head coaches hired in the past three months.  The best?  Georgia, which has the No. 15 class thanks in part to Kirby Smart, Richt’s successor in Athens.

UGA right now, though, and fully understanding that there are nearly two weeks left until National Signing Day, is nine spots behind the No. 6 class Richt signed in 2015.  The U, meanwhile, was ranked 26th for Al Golden‘s last class, a full seven spots behind were Richt stands now.

Not surprisingly, a significant number of programs have seen their recruiting rankings dip from a year ago.  One of the most glaring is that of USC.  Despite offensive coordinator Clay Helton taking over as interim head coach in mid-October and then taking over permanently in late November, USC has just the 23rd-ranked class; last year at this time, the Trojans were well on their way to having Rivals’ No. 1 class under Steve Sarkisian.

Of the 27 head coaches new to their teams, 17 have classes that are ranked lower than their predecessors from a year ago.  The biggest drop belongs to Seth Littrell‘s North Texas (127th currently, 90th in 2015), while that ignominious honor for Power Five programs goes to Dave Odom and Missouri (59th, 27th).

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Matt Campbell has taken his new team on one of the biggest rises, lifting Iowa State from No. 69 under the departed Paul Rhoads to No. 52.  Interestingly, Campbell’s successor at Toledo, UT offensive coordinator Jason Candle, has the Rockets at 73rd, 17 spots higher than his predecessor’s 90th-ranked class of a year ago.

Below are the 27 newest head coaches, with where their teams rank now in the recruiting rankings compared to a year ago:

2016 New HC Recruit Rankings