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Developing a new arch rival
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CaliforniaCajun Offline
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Post: #1
 
The Sun Belt is trying to develop rivalries that really don't exist now among league members. Both the UL Cajuns and UL Indians have "traditional arch rivals" other than each other. But these two schools are in the same conference and compete for championships, so the Sun Belt is trying to help create more fan interest by scheduling the annual football game as the last one of the regular season. They will begin competing in the other sports in a couple of years.

<a href='http://www.thenewsstar.com/sports/html/4548914D-E149-49BD-A055-47359AD6A4A5.shtml' target='_blank'>http://www.thenewsstar.com/sports/html/454...59AD6A4A5.shtml</a>

La. football rivalry in good shape
Paul Letlow
pletlow@monroe.gannett.com

July 23, 2004

Naturally, Louisiana-Monroe's top football rival in the Sun Belt Conference is Louisiana-Lafayette.

Now that ULM has announced its intention to move all sports to the Sun Belt by 2006, the rivalry between the schools and their fans has a chance to grow even more.

"Competing in all sports and recruiting, competing on the fields, on the diamond and on the courts, I think it will be more exciting," ULL coach Rickey Bustle said during Sun Belt Football Media Days this week. "It is a good rivalry."

The two University of Louisiana System schools have a history of football games that goes back to 1951 when the Indians claimed a 13-7 victory.

ULM leads the all-time series 20-19 and has enjoyed more recent success too. The Indians beat the Ragin' Cajuns 45-42 last season at Cajun Field for their only win of the season.

ULM has won two of the three meetings since the birth of Sun Belt football in 2001 and five of seven games against the Cajuns since moving up to Division I-A in 1993.

"They've got two wins in a row, so right now they're on top of that rivalry," Bustle said. "We've got to try to catch them a little bit."

The Ragin' Cajuns rebounded after their 2003 loss to ULM and won four of their last five games to finish 4-8 overall and 4-3 (good for second place) in the Sun Belt Conference. Bustle hopes that strong finish will provide momentum for this season.

"To finish the way we did, it did carry over into the spring," Bustle said. "But we know it doesn't mean a thing when we line up this fall."

ULM will meet ULL on Nov. 20 at Malone Stadium, the regular season finale for both schools.

Welcome Troy: Troy University is leaving Division I-A independent status this season to compete in the Sun Belt in football. All sports will follow beginning in 2005.

"We're happy to be a part of it and look forward to the competition," Troy coach Larry Blakeney said. "There's one thing I know about this league and that's every coach and every player in here has goals set to win this conference and go to the bowl."

The Trojans finished 6-6 last season - including a 28-24 comeback win over ULM at Movie Gallery Stadium. Troy played four Sun Belt teams last year, losing to North Texas and Middle Tennessee and beating Utah State and the Indians.

Still, with 17 starters and 25 seniors returning Troy was picked to finish second in its inaugural season. Due to a scheduling quirk, Troy and three-time defending champion North Texas do not meet this season.

"I know North Texas has dominated the league over the last few years and they're a very good program," said Blakeney, one of just two coaches to lead a football program from Division II to I-AA to I-A. "We respect them fully as well as the other teams in the league. You have to bring your 'A' game every week to play in this conference and that's as it should be."

The Wright stuff: Middle Tennessee State wide receiver Kerry Wright should again be one of the top offensive stars in the Sun Belt Conference.

Wright, an All-America and Biletnikoff Award candidate in 2004, caught 73 passes for 1,280 yards (a league and school record) last year with nine touchdowns. The 5-9, 175-pound senior ranked seventh nationally in receiving yards per game at 106.7.

"I don't feel pressure to put up numbers from last year," Wright said. "I think the pressure is to lead by example. When I do get the opportunity, I have to make the best of it."

Hello and good bye: MTSU coach Andy McCollum said he understood when former ULM coach Mike Collins left his staff to take a job at LSU. McCollum hired Collins as defensive coordinator in the off-season but lost him less than two months later when LSU offered a chance join the staff in Baton Rouge.

"He's a good friend, a great person and a great coach," McCollum said. "I had him for a month and a half and he gets an opportunity to go to LSU. When he told me what they offered him, what am I going to say?

"You pat him on the butt and wish him good luck."

Wait and see: ULM had planned a news conference to unveil its new Nike football uniforms and revised maroon helmets this week.

But school administrators scratched those plans and will now have their football fashion show at a later date.

Belt loops: Troy took a blow to its recruiting class when heralded quarterback signee D.T. McDowell signed a professional baseball contract with the Anaheim Angels. ... The Trojans will play defending national champion LSU in Baton Rouge on Oct. 23. ... Former MTSU All-Sun Belt place kicker Brian Kelly will serve as a graduate assistant for McCollum in 2004.


The News-Star
July 23, 2004
07-23-2004 08:29 AM
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arkstfan Away
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Post: #2
 
I'm not sure the last game concept will work that well. Traditionally none of us draw well late unless we are having a great season.

The league might have been better off making the rivalry week the last or next to last Saturday in October.
07-23-2004 09:10 AM
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SwampHound Offline
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Post: #3
 
arkstfan Wrote:I'm not sure the last game concept will work that well. Traditionally none of us draw well late unless we are having a great season.

The league might have been better off making the rivalry week the last or next to last Saturday in October.
I agree. For now, we should have rivalry weekend to start the conference schedule.
07-23-2004 06:44 PM
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