The Sun Belt Conference will begin playing a nine-game football schedule in 2015, according to the future schedules posted by Western Kentucky.
Back in June, Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson stated that the conference would likely move to a nine-game schedule. “There’s a chance we could get to nine games as early as 2014 but my guess would be 2015,” Benson said.
Western Kentucky’s schedules, which were recently updated, list eight conference games in 2013 and 2014, but nine in 2015 and 2016. Listed below are their opponents for each season:
The Hilltoppers are slated to play Sun Belt newcomers Georgia State and Texas State each year. The two schools are joining the conference in 2013 and will replace FIU and North Texas, who are moving to Conference USA.
With nine conference games, the Sun Belt will be able to play a true round-robin football schedule. Each team will play every other team every year. The only drawback is that the schedule will be imbalanced. Teams will have five home games one season, but then only four the next year.
The Big 12, which also has ten schools, currently employs this scheduling format. The Pac-12 plays nine games, as will the ACC in 2013, but both conferences have too many teams for a true round-robin format.
A nine-game conference schedule also means one less non-conference game. And Karl Benson wants his Sun Belt schools to schedule only one single-game contract per year. Those games often pay up to $1 million each.
”We’ve talked about scheduling philosophy, scheduling strategy. Ideally we’d like to establish across the board some scheduling parameters that would limit those guarantee games to one a year,” Benson said.
Western Kentucky has already adopted that stance, and others could follow. The result could be less available non-conference buy games for the SEC and other conferences.