Report: Sun Belt to also add Idaho and New Mexico State

By Kevin Kelley -
New Mexico State Aggies
NMSU and Idaho look to be Sun Belt bound. John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

The Sun Belt Conference, which is expected to add FCS schools Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, will also add Idaho and New Mexico State, has reported.

Idaho and New Mexico State, which will play the 2013 season as FBS Independents, will likely be announced as football-only members later this week and will join the conference in 2014. Appalachian State and Georgia Southern are expected to be announced on Wednesday.

Appalachian State and Georgia Southern are both FCS schools and would have to complete a two-year transition to the FBS. They could join the Sun Belt in 2014 but would not be eligible for the conference championship or bowl games until the 2015 season.

The addition of these four schools would give the Sun Belt 12 football-playing members beginning with the 2014 season. That would give the SBC the ability to split into two divisions and stage a conference championship game. However, it’s unclear whether the title game would debut in 2014 or 2015.

A likely division setup will be geographical with an East and West Division:

East Division

Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, South Alabama, Troy, Western Kentucky

West Division

Arkansas State, Idaho, New Mexico State, Texas State, UL Lafayette, ULM

The winner of each division will meet in the Sun Belt Football Championship Game, which will likely be hosted by the team with the best conference record or highest BCS ranking.

Update (11 a.m. ET)

Per the AJC, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will both be eligible for the Sun Belt championship after the 2014 season. Both schools will not be eligible for bowl games until after the 2015 season.

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Comments (21)

So, this leaves the Big “12” the only conference left with 10 teams and no championship game. Strange, since they had one not 3 seasons ago. Any new rumblings of them getting back to 12 teams?

This looks like a legitimate mid-major conference with the potential to surpass the C-USA by 2015. One thing is obvious though, Idaho and New Mexico must prove that they belong. Both schools must show that they can compete and Idaho must prove that they are not a financial drain on the conference.

The conference formerly known as the Big East will not have 12 teams either. They will have 11 teams in 2015.

nope, they added Tulsa, so they will have 11 in 2014 and 12 in 2015 with the addition of Navy.

now that still remains to be seen from a conference that loses members like it is going out of style.

if conferences stayed the same as they are being reported. in 2015, the Big 12 conference will be the only conference without a conference championship game. hope they get one so they will all have one.

Really? Idaho back to the Sun Belt? That is worse than the idea of Boise State to the Big East.

Idaho should go back to the Big Sky conference. Makes WAY more sense for scheduling and level of competition.

Idaho really is the odd duck of the bunch; the Eastern conference is pretty condensed geographically wise and the Western division, outside of Idaho, covers a pretty nice region for itself.

Will WKU even be in the Sunbelt after this year. Perhaps Liberty will replace the Hilltoppers when they leave. By the way, Idaho in the Sunbelt?

Anybody that is smart enough and can evacuate the SunBelt will be doing just that in very short order!

The commissioner of the SunBelt (Karl Benson) should be given a basic skills test! How stupid can a “Commissioner” be? Oh WAIT, this is the same moron that oversaw the complete devastation of the WAC! Looks like a pattern here to me Karl?

I agree whole with you 100% how dumb can the sun belt be to hire this guy, oh well one down (WAC) one to go (Sun Belt).

Maybe after he kills the Sun Belt like he did the WAC he can get to work on CUSA next.

I think that New Mexico state and Idaho should join the Mountain west because Idaho’s biggest rival Boise state is in the mountain west and New Mexico State should join because their biggest rival New mexico is in that conference

It’d be awesome, but I don’t think the MWC would take them. You better believe they’d rather be there. MWC>>>>>Sun Belt>Indy for both of these teams.

Idaho is lucky to have a place in FBS. I just looked at the 2011 attendance figures (couldn’t find 2012) and Idaho was 119th of 120 teams.

Even if they sold every seat for every game they would finish about 110th.

I don’t know how you can call them Boise’s biggest rival. Other than being in the same state, they have nothing in common. Maybe you can call Wazzu a rival because they are 20 minutes away; but even that is a stretch.

No matter how you measure it, attendance. ratings. alumni base. or play on the field; Idaho is barely an FBS team. Other than perhaps Eastern Michigan; I can’t think of a less qualified FBS team.