Is the Sun Belt about to expand??
The Miami Herald is reporting that the Sun Belt Conference might be ready to add an 11th football school.
Currently the Sun Belt has nine for football, twelve for other sports. But that landscape will change soon. South Alabama is about to become the 10th FBS school. Denver has one more year left as a non-football school.
That means the Sun Belt, after 2011-12 will have ten schools for football, eleven in other sports.
Before we go any farther, here is what the Herald has to say.
Now, let's assume that this story has some legs to it.
You would then have eleven schools for football, eleven in other sports. (Arkansas-Little Rock does not have football.)
It would only make sense then, that another school would be added for all sports in order to get the league to twelve in all sports.
Want to speculate?
There have been rumblings for a few months now that New Mexico State prefers to be in a conference with a Western footprint. NMSU is a solid basketball school, both men and women. The WAC, even after the upcoming defections and additions, would still be a viable basketball league, thanks to the presence of Utah State. But the football situation in the WAC is still in flux, and even in best case scenario, that league is looking at adding at least one more current FCS member in order to keep football somewhat viable.
The latest rumbling is that New Mexico State would entertain coming back to the Sun Belt just for football.
What about the twelfth school?
Well, right away, everyone will speculate about Louisiana Tech. Tech made the decision to go to the WAC for all sports just as Sun Belt football was trying to get off the ground. There was an incredible amount of bad feelings between Commissioner Wright Waters, the league membership and the administration at Louisiana Tech. Since their departure, especially since Derek Dooley was hired to be their head football coach, Tech has been unwilling to deal with SBC members in football scheduling, and in the process, exploded bridges with two member schools, Louisiana and ULM. Neither school is scheduling Tech in any sports right now and will not until contracts are signed on a football series.
Tech President Dr. Dan Reneau has spent the last decade telling Tech boosters that their school is above the Sun Belt. It would be very difficult for him to go back to these same people and tell them a move to the Belt is in Tech's best interests. Talk about lose credibility.....
That would, in my opinion, leave Texas State. The San Marcos school has accepted WAC membership but it's no secret that they lobbied hard to get into the Sun Belt before the WAC nearly imploded. And, conventional wisdom says that TSU would still rather be in the Belt than the WAC.
If that would occur, WAC football would then have to hope and pray that at least two and probably three more FCS schools would be willing to move up in order to keep WAC football in business. The two Montana schools, Sam Houston, Lamar and a couple of severely cash-strapped California schools would be the possibilities.
Now that the possibilities are becoming public, what say you, Louisiana Tech?
Personally, I believe that Tech has painted itself into a corner and for them, the Sun Belt simply won't be an option. The school would need a 3/4 vote of the eleven member schools (that's nine) in order to get in. I'm not sure, given their past stormy relationship, that they can muster that, even if they wanted to come, which they keep saying they don't.
The Destin spring meetings could be the most interesting ever this year.