By Josh Orozco
Assistant Sports Director
In a route opposite to the Power 5 schools, the Sun Belt conference plans to play their original 12-game schedules, as first reported by Keff Ciardello of the Austin American-Statesman.
Sun Belt teams will move forward with a 12-game schedule consisting of four non-conference matchups and eight conference games. Before the news, Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Louisiana, Louisiana-Monroe and Troy all saw their season shift with multiple games being removed due to the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, schools now have the option to replace any canceled non-conference games if necessary. Attendance protocol isn’t official, but fans should expect an announcement later in the week, according to Ciardello.
Texas State football officially moved its season opener against SMU up from September 5 to August 29. As of now, the Bobcats have yet to see a non-conference matchup erased from their schedule but a week four game against Ohio seems unlikely.
Texas State athletic director Larry Teis sees the layout of the original schedule as a chance to prepare for any uncertainties within the upcoming football season.
“With the season being permitted to start on August 29 as scheduled, the move will give us extra time between our first two home games to manage any variety of possible circumstances that may occur,” Teis said. “Our original schedule did not have any open dates in September. This improves our approach to managing the conditions of these unprecedented times safely.”
Although the start date is pushed back up to late August, the much-anticipated continuation of the I-35 rivalry against the UTSA Roadrunners in week two will be played two weeks after on September 12.
Sun Belt Commissioner Keith Gill appeared on the Paul Finebaum Show on the SEC Network last week to discuss what the immediate future holds for the conference. Gill continued to express his optimism for a football season this fall throughout the pandemic and now has established a set plan in place.
“The enterprise and what it does for all of our students and the folks associated with it [is] so important,” commissioner Gill said. “If we can find a way to do it safely… we owe it to ourselves to take every opportunity to do that.”
Fans of the maroon and gold can watch the kickoff to the season on ESPN+ or tune in to KTSW-FM 89.9 over the airwaves at 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 29.
Featured image by Texas State Athletics.