Sun Belt football meetings recap

5 08 2010

As most may recall, the Sun Belt wrapped its annual media days event a few weeks back – and with that, the league also concluded its league-wide football meetings with both the conference office and member athletic directors.

I spoke with SBC Commissioner Wright Waters earlier this week about what was discussed. Here’s what he had to say:

– Waters said that the league will keep an eight-game conference slate when South Alabama enters the SBC in 2013. The Jaguars will eventually bring the league to 10 teams. There was some debate over moving to a nine-game conference slate in 2013, but the powers that be decided to stay with eight – for now.

“We looked at the number of conference games, whether eight or nine is the magic number,” Waters said. “There’s positives and negatives on both sides. The positive of eight is that it gives our schools the flexibility to develop home-and-home series and still keep the option to play some high-profile games. Nine cuts down on that opportunity but it does give you a true champion.”

“The schedules are made, and nothing is forever. But I think that’s where we are for a while.”

– Waters also said there was more talk that went along the same lines with his comments during media day about the SBC getting to a point where it needs to take the next step in terms of postseason play. That next step, according to Waters, still means a BCS bowl bid.

“We talked about it for a couple meetings, really spending time looking at the schools that are getting to BCS bowls from (non AQ conferences).” he said. “We’ve looked at their scheduling and there is a certain western advantage to that, because they have really been able to attract some high-profile school to their place. But we’re starting to see that in our league, too.”

“We have to constantly be challenging ourselves to raise our expectations. If you don’t, you get in a rut. And if you don’t get better in intercollegiate athletics, you only get worse.”

“You’ve got a different system with the BCS than in basketball. Basketball is largely a computer poll looking at your entire body of work. The BCS, only a third is a computer ranking – the other two rankings are two polls that are very subjective in nature. What happens with the two polls is that – collectively in a big picture – people have a tendency to vote for programs, not for teams.

“Boise’s been good for a while, but it took them a couple of times before they achieved that ‘program’ status rather than ‘team’ status.”

“I think they’ve now reached that program status, and I think that’s what we have to do. We shouldn’t be disillusioned if one year we’ve got a team go undefeated and is not in the national championship game. We have to understand that that’s part of the steps – but we’ve got to win those games first, and then let the process take care of itself.”

“I think Boise’s still a good model. Utah probably not as good, because we only have one school in our league that has been 1-A from the get-go and that’s ULL. Utah, TCU, they’ve been 1-A forever – so they may not be as good an example.”

– As far as the Sun Belt’s bowl picture is concerned, Waters said the league’s members are currently quite happy with the situation as it is today. Currently, the Sun Belt has primary tie-ins with the New Orleans Bowl and the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala. The SBC also has secondary tie-ins with the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl, the PapaJohns.com Bowl and the St. Petersburg Bowl.

“The bowls are dictated by the numbers of wins that you have over a four-year period,” Waters said. “Every game becomes important and we need to generate more teams with seven wins so that at the end of this four-year cycle we’re in position to go and contract more games.

“But we’re all delighted with the bowl situation currently. We had two teams last year in the two primary bowls and it turned out to be a great experience for both of them. There’s something to play for, the opportunity is there, we just have to go out there and win those games.”

– Also, Waters expanded another one of his thoughts from media day for me earlier this week – that being his concern about the league creating its own divide of top-tier schools and bottom level programs. Troy has won at least a share of five straight league titles, and Waters says more overall competition from top to bottom is needed if the league is to continue its progression.

“The fear I have is that we get to a point where we’re the three giants and the six dwarves,” he said. “We need to keep a competitive balance throughout the league. I’m starting to see some divide in there, and if people don’t recognize it and make their own adjustments – whether that’s changing a recruiting area, recruiting expectations or scheduling. They can’t let three or four schools just run off and never be seen again.

“The best leagues are the ones that you aren’t surprised when the preseason No. 9 pick upsets preseason No. 1 at some point during the year. Competition raises all boats.”

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One response

5 08 2010
Glenn Blackburn, M.D.

This uneven SBC schedule is just wrong. When So. Alabama becomes a full member, we need to play all 8 members, giving us 4 home and 4 away SBC games. So. Ala. offered scholarships in 2009 and 2010. They will offer same for 2011 and 2012. So, why are they not eligible until 2013? Even if they red-shirt all of the 2009 class, they will be seniors in 2013. What have they played for or as? 1AA? They have their coaching staff and players, why not begin play in the SBC in 2011 or 2012?

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