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

By Kevin Kelley -

C-USA 2013The 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.

  1. Kro
    January 19, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    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.

    • PNB
      January 19, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      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.

    • Herandos
      January 20, 2013 at 8:31 am

      Yes and Middle Tennessee has won at Georgia Tech, who went bowling with an losing record

    • Tito
      January 20, 2013 at 11:44 am

      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

    • Evan
      January 20, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      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

  2. Beau
    January 19, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    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!

  3. Beau
    January 19, 2013 at 4:25 pm

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

  4. Pete
    January 19, 2013 at 5:14 pm

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

  5. reality
    January 19, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Enough of this madness!

  6. Gorman
    January 19, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    where is NMSU going? Why hasn’t the Sun Belt tried to lure that school?

    • Bill
      January 19, 2013 at 8:25 pm

      I think now, it is practically a given that they will add NMSU, perhaps even Idaho too.

    • Kro
      January 19, 2013 at 9:26 pm

      I’d say NMSU and an FCS team like Georgia Southern, JMU, or App State.

    • Biggs
      January 20, 2013 at 11:01 am

      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?

    • Bill
      January 20, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      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.

  7. PNB
    January 20, 2013 at 1:02 am

    Troy, Alabama to Moscow, Idaho….didn’t work well 10 years agaon will not work well now

  8. white house
    January 20, 2013 at 10:48 am

    why not just have 119 1-A independents for two years, to sort things out.

    • reality
      January 20, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      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.

    • Herandos
      January 20, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      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.

    • Bill
      January 20, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      Actually 127. There were 124 in 2012, but ODU, Charlotte and GSU will also be FBS in 2013.

    • G of F
      January 20, 2013 at 6:44 pm

      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.

    • Brendan the Aspie
      January 20, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      Charlotte won’t officially be FBS until 2015.

    • Biggs
      January 20, 2013 at 11:17 pm

      They will count as FBS team next year.(scheduling purposes only)

    • Biggs
      January 20, 2013 at 11:21 pm

      not next year i meant 2014.

    • Greg
      January 21, 2013 at 6:20 pm

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

  9. Derek Johnson
    January 20, 2013 at 8:21 pm

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

    • Kro
      January 21, 2013 at 1:15 am

      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.

  10. Dave
    January 21, 2013 at 2:58 am

    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.

  11. matthew
    January 22, 2013 at 11:27 am

    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?

    • Bill
      January 23, 2013 at 10:25 am

      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.