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Middle Tennessee State to add Alabama walk-on to roster


Joseph Sewell, they hardly knew ye.  Or knew of ye, at least when it comes to the fans.

The ye in this case is Alabama, with Sewell announcing on Twitter that he has decided to transfer from the defending national champions.  Not only that, but the defensive lineman announced his transfer destination for good measure — Middle Tennessee State.

As Sewell hails from Murfreesboro, the home of the Blue Raiders, the landing spot is far from a surprise.  It should be noted, though, that MTSU, which didn’t offer him a scholarship coming out of high school interestingly enough, has yet to officially announce Sewell’s addition to the roster.

Sewell was a two-star 2017 recruit who walked on with the Crimson Tide last year after receiving offers from, among others, Vanderbilt, Army, Navy, Appalachian State, Miami (Ohio) and UT-San Antonio.  Suffice to say, he never played a down for ‘Bama.

South Carolina adds more future games against Sun Belt schools

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Not surprisingly, South Carolina’s future slates will have even more of a Sun Belt Conference flavor to it.

As we noted Thursday, USC and Appalachian State had reached an agreement on a three-game series that will begin in 2019 and will culminate with an open-ended third game sandwiched between a 2027 game.  In addition to that, USC also confirmed future games against SBC programs Georgia State and Troy.

The Gamecocks will play host to the Trojans on September 25, 2021, while they’ll do the same for the Panthers Sept. 3, 2022.

South Carolina owns a 3-0 record against Troy, with wins in 2004, 2005 and 2010. USC and Georgia State have never met in football.

South Carolina and Appalachian State line up three future games

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South Carolina will become the first team from the SEC to make a visit to Appalachian State as part of a three-game scheduling announcement between the two schools on Thursday. South Carolina will host the other two games in the scheduling arrangement starting in 2019.

South Carolina will host Appalachian State on Nov. 19, 2019 and the series will resume six years later. Appalachian State will host South Carolina on Sept. 20, 2015, and the Gamecocks will be the hosts two years later with a game in 2027. The exact date of the third game has not been decided as of yet, but there is plenty of time to organize those details.

As you can imagine, the scheduling of South Carolina and being able to bring them into their home stadium is a big deal for Appalachian State.

“This is an exciting announcement for Appalachian State Athletics, and I want to thank Ray Tanner and the South Carolina administration for working with us to make this series a reality,” Appalachian State athletics director Doug Gillin said in a released statement. “Being able to visit a great venue in Williams-Brice Stadium and hosting South Carolina at The Rock for the first time is a great opportunity for our fans and supporters. Adding a multi-game series against one of the country’s finest baseball programs is another great opportunity for our student-athletes and university.”

Appalachian State has at least one game scheduled against a power conference opponent each of the next nine seasons, and the Mountaineers will get to host a power conference opponent in 2022 (North Carolina) and 2023 (South Carolina).

South Carolina leads the all-time series with Appalachian State, 9-1. The two schools have not faced each other since 1988, long before the Mountaineers made the move up to the FBS level.

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.