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The matter of no respect
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arkstfan Online
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Post: #1
The matter of no respect
The Sun Belt took a lot of hits over the year about being the worst conference in America. Well some of us where there when it happened. It was bad. The condition of the league was what it was because of the circumstances that controlled within the NCAA and the market forces of the day.

The opening cast:
Arkansas St. Had left its FCS home the Southland to better basketball. A new NCAA rule prohibitted ANY games against FCS from counting toward bowl eligibility meant not only did we struggle to get a schedule, we could no longer schedule the regional FBS schools. Expanded our stadium and moved without a home, then went to the Big West football only, back to indy, back to Big West, and through it all struggled to meet budget with a president who told coaches if you want more money for things you need, don't use all of your scholarships or play games for a fat check.

Idaho. No program has moved major/minor more times than Idaho. They've been in the early form of today's Pac-12, to Big Sky to Big West. They went FBS because the Big West needed bodies and Boise State was going so they went as a pair then the Big West collapsed.

Louisiana-Lafayette booted from the Southland when the SLC was reclassified FBS. Cast around as an indy finally landing in the Big West and passed by their indy neighbors for the new C-USA. Sitting between Tulane and Houston... not a surprise.

Louisiana-Monroe. Had finally made it to the Southland with their regional neighbors saw La.Tech then AState leave and head FBS. Floated around as an indy for years, couldn't get in Big West.

Middle Tennessee St. After years of OVC made the decision to go FBS and then the Sun Belt formed and they came on over. Legend says when MTSU said they were going FBS, then OVC commissioner Dan Beebe tossed a dollar at MTSU's president and said, "Here's some money for your stadium".

New Mexico St. The Missouri Valley was hit hard by the FBS/FCS rule change of 1981 leaving only Tulsa, Wichita State and NMSU, the Aggies went to the Big West to find a football home. Before the Valley, their previous conference dissolved when it lost members to the newly formed WAC.

North Texas. Had left the Valley to pursue greatness as an independent as Houston (and later Miami) would do. Eventually landed in the SLC then left for the Big West.

We played in an era where there was no home game requirement and teams playing four home games wasn't unusual for lack of games. There were even instances when teams played THREE home games.

We opened the doors as league made up of survivors who had seen little stability over our history. No one was looking to crack the Top 25 or bust any BCS or such because our focus had been getting to next season.

What did we get for our trouble?
A decent measure of stability. A chance to run our programs and make five and ten year plans rather than one to three year plans.

It gave our AD's the ability to leave the office at the end of the day without worrying that tomorrow someone would call and cancel a game or want to reschedule a game and leave him scrambling just to field a schedule. It happened to us when ECU joined CUSA and cancelled a series and we were forced to schedule a Division II opponent just to have a five game home slate. It happened in 1992 when Akron cancelled to join the MAC and we played four home games. One FBS, two FCS and one FCS transitional (TO FCS from Division II).

With the exception of MTSU, the other six schools had had the hell beaten out of them trying to remain viable. We were in an era when in recent time about five schools playing FBS had dropped football within the past decade and a half and our primary focus was not being one of them and that's not counting UTA and Lamar who had been a former conference mate of most of us who later dropped football after being reclassified from FBS to FCS.

At risk of the story sound like walking to school in 100 degree heat, knee deep in snow, uphill both ways... It was a different world then.

You didn't have the protections moving up you have today.
-No one can move up as an indy, so you are guaranteed from the start to be competing for a title, to compete for a chance at a bowl, to have 2/3rds of your schedule in place without any effort from the AD.
-You now have to have 5 home games so no more selling your soul and playing 3 or 4 home games or being stuck with that because you can't find someone to go home/home because other similar schools need home/home series as well.
-You have to award a minimum number of scholarships. No more holding a scholarship because you want to buy new video equipment.

The transition from FBS to FCS is far easier than what most of us faced. No one looking to transition today will have to play at FCS schools just to build a schedule as Louisiana did or play four home games with three of those in a row in October as they had to as an indy.

I know some Liberty fans grumble about the need for an invite to join FBS, believe AState and UL fans when we tell you, it's for your own good that you can't.

That was our reality, the Sun Belt now means we have a bigger voice in the NCAA than the CAA or Southern or Southland. The proposed new rules on voting in the NCAA increases our voice compared to them. We now get more from the CFP than we were getting from TWO money games when we formed.

Yeah we had a bad reputation but we had vision and dreams your schools lacked back when moving successfully was much harder and because we did come together, you have opportunities that would not have otherwise existed.
03-28-2014 09:49 AM
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Eagle22 Offline
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Post: #2
RE: The matter of no respect
(03-28-2014 09:49 AM)arkstfan Wrote:  Yeah we had a bad reputation but we had vision and dreams your schools lacked back when moving successfully was much harder and because we did come together, you have opportunities that would not have otherwise existed.

Entire post is great, but just wanted to really echo this part. I think you omitted just one aspect though, as it would have to be (IMO) vision, dreams and leadership.

A lot of schools have the vision and the dreams, but lack the right leaders at the right times. That sidelines schools, and IMO is what proves to be the biggest barrier most of the time.

Absence of leadership can quell and extinguish a lot of dreams. I can think back of the early days of the Sun Belt and remember those scenarios you speak of, with teams getting few home games. That was one of the biggest obstacles for schools like Georgia Southern to overcome. My senior year (1989), we had eleven home games during the regular season and playoffs.

It ultimately took a change in our administration (both academic and athletic) PLUS a change in the collegiate landscape for us to finally put it together. I'm grateful we've got this opportunity to move forward as part of the conference constituency.
03-28-2014 10:09 AM
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ajg Offline
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Post: #3
RE: The matter of no respect
(03-28-2014 09:49 AM)arkstfan Wrote:  The Sun Belt took a lot of hits over the year about being the worst conference in America. Well some of us where there when it happened. It was bad. The condition of the league was what it was because of the circumstances that controlled within the NCAA and the market forces of the day.

The opening cast...

I really appreciate the insider's take on the history. Thanks for posting.
03-28-2014 10:11 AM
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Dman Offline
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RE: The matter of no respect
Thank you all so much.
03-28-2014 10:17 AM
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Fanof49ASU Offline
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Post: #5
RE: The matter of no respect
1990 stAte schedule (3-7-1 record)

@ Memphis
ULM (in Jonesboro)
@ Wyoming
@ Loser Tech
@ So Illinois
NW St (in Jonesboro)
@ NIU
@ Ole Miss
@ UNT
ULL (in Jonesboro)
@ Toledo

1992's schedule we had 4 consecutive home games, the rest were away.
03-28-2014 10:18 AM
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TruBlu Offline
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Post: #6
RE: The matter of no respect
Here's MT's 1999 schedule our first year of FBS independence purgatory (3-8). Six of the first eight games on the road. Troy beat us down worse than Arizona; Troy ruined a lot of our Saturdays. The SBC plays very good football, let there be no doubt.

@Miss State L 7-40
@Arizona L 19-34
Wofford W 52-42
@ULL L 31-45
Troy L 31-48
@Arkansas L 6-58
@LaTech L 18-42
@ULM L 0-10
UT-Martin W 70-14
UCF L 14-39
ETSU W 24-7
(This post was last modified: 03-28-2014 11:38 AM by TruBlu.)
03-28-2014 11:37 AM
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TStatebobcat Offline
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Post: #7
RE: The matter of no respect
Reminds of when TxSt (the SWT) failed to move up back in the late nineties. I'm glad that move failed because our story would've been very similar to the ones stated above.
03-28-2014 12:07 PM
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pjc1979 Offline
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Post: #8
RE: The matter of no respect
I thought us (App St) and Georgia Southern had it tough trying to become FBS at such a late date. Perhaps it wasn't so bad being FCS overly long like we thought it was.
03-28-2014 12:16 PM
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Check Yosef Offline
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Post: #9
The matter of no respect
App and Georgia southern used the SOCON as an incubator to build two dominating programs with strong traditions of excellence and a strong regional recognition, but our administration (atleast apps) has never had to face such heavy handed challenges not confident that ole Cobb could have pulled us through such circumstance, am certain peacock would have put in work on it and probably been the reason we did get through, either way I think it may point out a difference between the struggles most SBC schools had compared to app and geo south, most of the schools haven't stayed in the same conference for a long time and been extremely successful a long time, or some have simply just now begun football, you can trust that app and geo south will hold up our part; we will bring our victory is a must even over the p5 opponents attitude and our diehard loyalty; both have sat in SOCON by choice for atleast 10 years. This is the Sun Belt Conference and I'm proud to be here with such great schools, and I'm proud we will help push the SBC to the undisputed best g5 in America, gone are the days of the worst conference in America. Together we RISE.


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03-28-2014 01:11 PM
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BloodBoudin Offline
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Post: #10
RE: The matter of no respect

As a Cajun fan since '71, I can tell you the journey hasn't
been an easy one. Some ups but a lot of downs.
I can tell you when the ball went through the uprights
for the win in our first New Orleans bowl all the trials and tribulations
seemed to be lifted off our shoulders.
(This post was last modified: 03-28-2014 01:27 PM by BloodBoudin.)
03-28-2014 01:26 PM
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