Radical Realignment (Part II): The Sun Belt Conference

Having whetted your appetite with the introduction to my conference realignment proposal, I now turn to the first of the revamped leagues, the newly recast 10-member Sun Belt Conference.  

The S.B.C. continues to cover the region known in the '70s as the Sun Belt, but, as dated as that term now seems, the league still consists of teams with aspirations for the future that exceed the accomplishments of the past.  

The Sun Belt, home of golf, shuffleboard, the afternoon nap, and the lowliest Division I-A college football conference.

Some of the same squads remain, but conference mainstay North Texas---probably the only Sun Belt team most of us could name---is now joined by member institutions from the Pelican, Sunshine, and Yellowhammer States.  

These are they:  

Western Division:
Louisiana-Lafayette
Louisiana-Monroe
Louisiana Tech
North Texas
U.A.B.  

Eastern Division:
Central Florida
Florida Atlantic
Florida International
South Florida
Troy

While this arrangement would create a conference largely composed of S.E.C. September schedule fodder, it would produce some competitive football between teams that like to think of themselves as up and coming programs.  Having Howard Schnellenberger and George O'Leary shaking hands at midfield every fall wouldn't be bad to watch, either.  

Coach Schnellenberger emphasizes the fundamentals . . . such as, for instance, what a football is.

Since they share the same state, the Blazers and the Trojans each would serve as the other's permanent opponent from the other division.  Each year, the Ragin' Cajuns would play the Golden Panthers and the Indians would play the Owls on the same Saturday, leaving legions of college football fans confused as to which was F.A.U., which was F.I.U., and which used to be Northeast or Southwest Louisiana.  An annual showdown between North Texas and South Florida has a nice ring to it, leaving U.C.F. to take on La Tech every autumn.  

Each Sun Belt squad would play a seven-game conference schedule consisting of the four teams from the same division, the permanent opponent from the other division, and two rotating opponents from the other division.  With the advent of the 12-game regular season, this would leave each team five additional games in which to schedule higher-tier competition.  

The natural sites for the conference championship game, from Birmingham's Legion Field to Orlando's Florida Citrus Bowl, all run the risk of providing home field advantage to a participating squad, so perhaps the league title could be settled at Valdosta High School's Bazemore-Hyder Stadium . . . or, if you prefer, Georgia Southern's Allen E. Paulson Stadium.  

I present the new Sun Belt Conference.  

Coming up next . . . Conference U.S.A.  

Go 'Dawgs!

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