Sun Belt History
The Sun Belt Conference was established in 1976 by six charter universities. Since that time, the Sun Belt has grown, expanding to twelve members in 2013, ten of which compete in football. The Sun Belt has a total of nineteen NCAA athletics and is a member of Division I FBS. 2013 brought the departure of Florida International and North Texas, as well as the arrivals of Georgia State and Texas State to Sun Belt football.
The Sun Belt has been one of the NCAA’s most fluctuant sports conferences, with over forty membership changes in less than forty years. North Texas had been the Sun Belt’s top program historically, with twenty-four conference titles.
Among the Sun Belt’s other top schools are Troy and Middle Tennessee State, with twenty apiece. Despite not having a strong reputation as a football conference, the Sun Belt has produced a fair amount of NFL talent particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Its top pro players in recent years include Leodis McKelvin, Ike Taylor, Charles Tillman, and DeMarcus Ware. Sun Belt teams do not typically factor into the BCS top 25 rankings, though many of the conference’s football programs are on the rise.
Sun Belt Teams
The Sun Belt has ten members competing in football. As it does not reach the minimum twelve members, the Sun Belt does not employ a divisional structure. Its champion is thus determined by conference record without the use of a championship game.
The Sun Belts football teams are Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee State, Troy, Western Kentucky, Arkansas State, Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana at Monroe, South Alabma, and North Texas. Georgia State and Texas State replace FIU and North Texas in 2013, keeping the Sun Belt at ten teams. The Sun Belt has a number of rivalries among its universities, including Louisiana Lafayette and Louisiana Monroe’s “Battle of the Bayou”.
Sun Belt Bowl Games
The Sun Belt has two primary bowl game tie-in in the GoDaddy.com Bowl and the New Orleans Bowl. The GoDaddy.com Bowl, held in Mobile, Alabama, is the number one pick of the Sun Belt against the number two pick of the Mid American Conference.
The New Orleans Bowl is the number two pick of the Sun Belt against either the fifth or sixth pick of the Conference USA. The Sun Belt is also associated as an alternate for the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl and the Beef O’Brady Bowl, serving as an alternate in the event that the originally designated conference cannot fulfill its contract.
Sun Belt Region
The term Sun Belt traditionally refers to the US’s southern region, stretching coast-to-coast across the United States. Every team in the Sun Belt Conference lies within this region, though the conference is confined to the southeastern US, with no university lying past Texas’s eastern half.
The Sun Belt occupies a total of nine states and hosts warm-weather football year round. While the area’s top recruits typically sign with SEC school, the Sun Belt is near much of high school football’s best talent.
Sun Belt Conference Betting
Our Daily Picks sometimes provides the latest odds on anything related to the Sun Belt Conference. These can pertain to a specific team’s win/loss record, futures bets on the conferences winner, or bets on any Sun Belt regular season or bowl game. There have even emerged recent Heisman candidates in the Sun Belt, which would pay out huge odds if an insightful bettor were to find the conference’s first winner.
Don’t overlook Sun Belt schools as potential contenders in this year’s BCS standings, as a Sun Belt school is due to emerge for a few upsets and strong season.