Starting in 2012, the league will basically be a 10 team conference that will play eight games a year, although South Alabama will not be eligible for the title in for that first year. This scheduling philosophy will continue for 2013 and 2014 but then things change.
According to USA athletic director Dr. Joel Erdmann, in 2015 the conference will begin playing a a nine game conference schedule. Despite the limitations this will have on the ability to schedule out of conference, Erdmann thinks this is the best move for the Sun Belt.
"I like the full conference schedule where there is no room for discussion or doubt about teams not playing another team when deciding bowl berths or a conference championship," he said. "We will be playing one, sometimes two, guarantee games a year but we will also eventually be buying a game potentially every year. Or, we may be filling those non-conference slots with regional institutions, like Tulane or Southern Miss or Louisiana Tech, for home and homes. If we are losing some revenue from one less potential guarantee game, our hope is, and part of my job is, to make up that revenue with ticket sales."
Losing the additional non-conference slot may also hamper getting well-known opponents to visit Mobile, as those are usually the result of two-for-one contracts. Dr. Erdmann hopes that can be countered by the attractiveness of playing in Mobile, either by teams hoping to strengthen their recruiting in the area or northern teams looking for a warm weather game later in the year.
So, the course of the Sun Belt is now charted for the arrival of USA football. Of course, in this day of rapid and startling conference changes, the circumstances of the SBC could be radically different by 2015.
Decisions, Decisions - Part Two
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