FAU, MTSU leaving Sun Belt early to join C-USA in 2013

By Kevin Kelley -

The Florida Atlantic Owls and the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders will join Conference USA in 2013 rather than 2014, Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson confirmed Friday evening.

Both schools were set to join C-USA on July 1, 2014 but moved up their timetable. They join Florida International and North Texas who are also leaving the Sun Belt for C-USA.

With the departure of FAU and MTSU, the Sun Belt Conference will have only eight football-playing members in 2013: Arkansas State, Georgia State, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy, UL Lafayette, ULM, and Western Kentucky.

Georgia State and Texas State will be new members of the SBC. Georgia State moves up from the Football Championship Subdivision, while Texas State moves over from the WAC.

With only eight teams in the Sun Belt, the conference will have a seven-game football schedule. That means all eight conference members now need an extra non-conference game in order to have a full 12-game schedule.

As we indicated last week, the pickings are slim at the FBS level. As of today, it appears that only Duke, Syracuse, Wake Forest, Marshall, and Missouri need a non-conference game. BYU recently added Idaho State, but could add a 13th game, and some internet chatter indicates that Tulane will host Jackson State.

Comments (33)

What do you suppose the reasoning was for moving up early? They have to pay $1 million extra in exit fees, and C-USA would have been fine with 12.

Middle was very unhappy about going 8-4 and being left out of a bowl while other SBC teams with worse records went to bowl games.

But tech was forced into the acc game by Miami’s intelligibility. They should’ve finished 6-6. Wku getting a bowl I don’t get cuz middle won at wku

There were 72 bowl-eligible teams, and the two teams that shouldn’t have been selected were CMU and another 6-6 team, such as Minnesota, Purdue, Pitt, VT, Duke, GT, SMU, Rice

I bet with Boise State and San Diego State bolting the BIG EAST, that B.E. is trying to get East Carolina and Tulane into the conference in 2013, so they can keep their 12-team conference and championship game. So these two teams are bolting to make up those others departing. But its all speculation!

Also, any idea with division they’ll respectfully go into? FAU into East and MTSU into West?

Mississippi River split.

East: FIU, FAU, Marshall, Middle, UAB, ECU, Southern Miss
West: Tulane, Louisiana Tech, Tulsa, North Texas, Rice, UTSA, UTEP

(Though technically Tulane is on the east bank, but close enough)

With all the Big 12 teams having three bye weeks, they should schedule some Sun Belt teams to help them out

I’d say NMSU should be a solid lock. I’m kinda curious if they would try for florida a&m again.(they were trying to get it about 10 years ago i think.While i know that A%M is way out of left field and only helpful in getting a game in florida every year.(basketball) and every other year(football)

I heard also that North Florida is thinking of starting a football program. do you think that the sun belt would try to get back into Florida with these two schools?

Much of the Florida A & M community opposed the move. Their thinking (not mine) is that the Historically Black Colleges should remain together in the MEAC and SWAC. I don’t know if the local politics at FAMU have changed to where the whole community would want to move.

UNF isn’t even D-1 yet. While Georgia State, UTSA, and Charlotte have made (or will make) the jump from no football to FBS, they all had established D-1 programs. If UNF wants to make that sort of upgrade, they might want to establish D-1 hoops and olympic sports first. Perhaps they copuld join as a non-football member and add football later, like USA did.

124 to be exactly. I wish the conferences would stick to common sense geography. The REAL SEC should not include teams from Missouri, Texas, and even Kentucky for that matter. Kentucky is hardly SE United States.

Historically and because of the Geographic, you can all the SEC the “CSFC” (Confereate States Football Conferece). They just need a team in North Carolina.

Though ODU is playing a FBS schedule in 2013 they will be an FCS independent, they will officially become FBS and join CUSA in 2014.

Ha! If the SEC really wanted a NC school, I’m sure East Carolina or NC State would hop at the chance!

Why not just play a few teams twice in the same season, like NMSU and Idaho are doing?

I think if NMSU wants to join the Sun Belt Conference, it should first help out one of the current members with a non-con game cancelling one of the Idaho games.

I think the Sun Belt should reach out to New Mexico St. and Idaho to join in 2014. It makes a lot of sense for everyone. Otherwise, the Sun Belt will be on life support just like the WAC, when Karl Benson was the commish there.

NMSU and Idaho make the most sense for the SunBelt seeing how they both will need a conference unless they want to stay Independent and I saw somewhere that NMSU was interested in the SBC so why not go and grab them? And maybe grab a FCS team or two?

I see how it makes sense from the schools perspective; but I dont see how the SBC will benefit from bringing Idaho in. Thy have a small stadium, small fan base, remote location and tiny TV market. Besides that, their Sagarin rating (165) would be the worst in the Sun Belt

Also, they are committed to the Big Sky for all the other sports, and unlikely to move them. How ca they afford to send the swim team and the track team to Troy and Monroe?

As it stands now the SBC will be at 8 for football and 10 for other sports. NMSU will make it 9 and 11. 9 is actually a great number for football. A fully balanced schedule; 4 home, 4 road and 4 NC games for all. 11 is not perfect for basketball, but it is better than 12.

If you look at the finances, it will cost each team money to add Idaho and slice the pie up a little thinner. It isn’t gonna happen. I think it’s time to accept that Idaho will be an unsuccessful independent, until they bite the bullet and retreat to FCS.