Remember all of those rumors that said that, once Georgia Southern was done in the playoffs, the Sun Belt would add Georgia Southern and possibly Appalachian State? Well…all hell broke loose (again).
The 7 Catholic basketball schools of the Big East decided to break off on their own and start a brand new conference (without football). So now the Sun Belt is waiting to see what happens with that. The Lafayette Advertiser spoke to Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson recently and he said:
“We were starting the process of evaluating the prospective members, and that’s been put on hold and we’ll wait now until after the first of the (new) year to start that again…there’s not a real sense of urgency…obviously everyone would like to get it done, and we will get it done.”
Essentially, they are waiting on the Big East or MWC to make its move.
In a year, there will be a BCS-type bowl slot for the “best team of the rest” which includes the Big East, MWC, C-USA, MAC, & Sun Belt. If one conference can emerge as the one that takes it every year, there is a lot of money to be had. Right now the contenders for best mid-major type conference are the MWC and Big East.
The Big East is trying to steal away some western teams from the MWC (Fresno State & UNLV). Meanwhile, the MWC is using the instability from the basketball schools leaving to try and steal back some western teams from the Big East (Boise State & SDSU etc). It looked like the Big East would win that battle for sure…but now not so much.
Basically, what makes the Big East a better conference (even without the Catholic basketball schools) is the fact that they haven’t signed a TV deal yet. The MWC has a severely undervalued TV deal with CBS Sports that they were locked into….until yesterday
CBSSports.com broke the news that CBS has restructured their TV deal with the MWC (I wonder how they found out?!). That allows them to sell games that CBS doesn’t select from a set number they can pick, to other TV networks. It still doesn’t look like it will be quite equal to the deal the Big East will get, but the difference will be mostly negated from less travel costs.
Because of this, it at least APPEARS that Fresno State and UNLV aren’t going to leave the MWC for the Big East. Now Boise State & SDSU have to decide if they are going to move BACK to the MWC.
If Boise State and SDSU do leave, it’s hard to say if that will be good or bad for Appalachian State. The Big East will have to give up on its western dreams and go back to what it always does, taking schools from C-USA. Likely candidates could be Old Dominion, Tulsa, S. Miss and others.
Guess what happens next? C-USA raids the Sun Belt, again. Western Kentucky, Arkansas State, and Georgia State would be likely in my opinion. That is good in the sense that we would be almost guaranteed a spot in the Sun Belt. It is bad in the sense that we would be in an EVEN weaker (and definitely the weakest) FBS conference. (MAC anyone?)
The final – WORST CASE SCENARIO is that so many Big East schools leave (once Boise State and SDSU leave) that it falls apart. That leaves many, much more attractive, schools available for C-USA and maybe even the Sun Belt. I see the chances of this happening at about 1%. But I think the Sun Belt is holding tight, just in case. Unfortunately, they know we aren’t going anywhere, and if they need us we’ll still be here.