Sports

Sun Belt Realignment Brings New Opportunity to Texas State

todayJuly 19, 2022 106 3 5

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By Bandera Barter

In the midst of one of the most significant conference realignments in recent years, Texas State’s very own Sun Belt Conference is about to look very different. Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Keith Gill made it official on July 1st that the conference would be expanding to 14 teams, adding James Madison, Marshall, Old Dominion, and Southern Mississippi. Southern Mississippi will join Texas State in the Sun Belt West Division while James Madison and Old Dominion, out of Virginia, and Marshall, of West Virginia, will join Sun Belt East.
The Sun Belt Conference, or much of the NCAA for that matter, has not seen changes this dramatic since 2014 when Texas State left the WAC in the FCS after only one year to join the Sun Belt Conference in the FBS. Southern Miss, Marshall, and Old Dominion will be moving from Conference USA, leaving the conference with only five current members and four on the way. With the Sun Belt Conference now having 14 teams, that makes it one of the largest behind the SEC and ACC.
James Madison will be coming from the Colonial Athletic Association Conference of the FCS, where they have boasted a great deal of success recently with national championships coming as recently as 2016 in football and 2018 in women’s lacrosse. Marshall comes in with a strong program as well, winning the men’s soccer national championship in 2020 and sporting a 12-5 record in football bowl games since entering the FBS.
Southern Miss has won five NCAA national championships with their most recent success coming through the baseball team which advanced to the College World Series in 2009. Old Dominion also comes in with an esteemed program, boasting 28 national championships, primarily in sailing. Old Dominion also has a history with the Sun Belt Conference, which it was in from 1982-1991, where the men’s basketball team won Sun Belt regular season titles in 1983 and 1986.
With the landscape of the NCAA changing more dramatically than ever, with schools like Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC and many schools like James Madison leaving the FCS for the FBS, Texas State has more of an opportunity than ever. While the Bobcats have had some recent success in baseball and men’s and women’s track and field, they have underperformed in football since joining the Sun Belt Conference.
Texas State currently holds a 32-76 record since joining the Sun Belt Conference, with its last conference title coming in 2008, two conferences removed from where they are now. However, now is the perfect time for a change. After two seasons under his belt and doubling the win total from his first season, coach Spavital has a better opportunity than ever to turn this program around.
Thanks to one of the best recruiting classes Texas State has seen in recent years, bringing in a top 100 recruit out of high school in cornerback AJ Edwards, as well as two top transfers in quarterback CJ Rogers from Baylor and defensive lineman Myron Warren from Texas. Texas State football will need everything they can get from new and incoming players given that the returning Sun Belt champs in Appalachian State have had yet another great recruiting class.
Texas State football will also need to look out for incoming schools like FCS powerhouse James Madison and Marshall with a top 75 recruiting class according to 247Sports. The addition of programs and talent that currently rank ahead of the Bobcats and has had more recent success may sound daunting, but it is exactly what Texas State needs.
More schools and more competition to challenge the current programs and push them either below or above the competition and weed out mediocracy is what this program needs. The expansion of the Sun Belt Conference with many great new teams just allows for the opportunity for Texas State to sit at the top of one of the most important conferences in the NCAA.

Image Credit: Kyle Owen

Written by: Jordan Young

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