Thursday’s official announcement that Denver is leaving the Sun Belt Conference to join the WAC wasn’t a huge surprise.
A move by Denver had been rumored for months, and it’s a move that benefits both parties.
Denver was too far from Sun Belt schools east of the Mississippi River and as a result it was a tough road trip that was far too expensive.
You would be hard pressed to find any coach at Florida Atlantic – or probably any school in the Sun Belt – sad that Denver is leaving.
Perhaps of more interest were statements by Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Wright Waters in the official release announcing Denver’s departure.
Waters addressed any possible expansion or changes in the Sun Belt by saying the conference wasn’t taking any action.
"In the coming months we expect to be asked many questions regarding potential new members as well as what future league schedules will look like," said Waters. "At this time I do not anticipate any additions to our league membership other than South Alabama's upcoming transition to football."
Well, that’s encouraging.
Now at least I know where FAU gets its “We are monitoring the situation” playbook when it comes to conference expansion issues.
I’m not going to have a “Where’s Wright Waters?” moment here. Surely the commissioner knows the college athletics landscape better than I do.
But if I were running the league, I wouldn’t wait until the day I lose a member or two to begin trying to bring more teams into the league like what happened when FAU was hastily asked to join in football and FIU moved its timetable up to become a I-A member.
The Sun Belt will be at nine members until South Alabama joins in 2012 when it will have 10 members. That’s fine for most conferences, but what makes the Sun Belt different is that many of its members would bolt for another league at the drop of a hat.
There are plenty of programs out there who would be attractive candidates. Upstarts Charlotte and Georgia State and until Thursday, Larry Coker’s Texas-San Antonio program, could perhaps have been enticed to move their timetables up and join the Sun Belt.
I don’t know how far along UTSA is, but certainly their program passed the smell test by the WAC. And joining a league with North Texas in its own state could have been enticing for Coker and the gang. At the end of the day, UTSA would probably pick the WAC over the Sun Belt, but there didn’t seem to be too much of a push to bring The Fighting Cokers into the Sun Belt.
What the Sun Belt is doing is sending a message loud and clear that “We are just fine the way we are.”
That would be fine and dandy except for the fact that the Sun Belt isn’t just fine right now – and someday sooner or later, it could see one or more of its programs leave for another league and the ones that are left are going to be in serious trouble.
> Owl Links: Articles of interest to FAU fans
FAUOwlAccess.com was at Thursday’s rare morning practice and filed this story on Ross Gornall and our practice report.
We also put up the latest edition of Owl Talk with Brian Rowitz, the weekly FAU sports podcast. This week Rowitz has one-on-one interviews with Louisiana-Lafayette coach Rickey Bustle and FAU quarterback Jeff Van Camp in addition to talking to women’s basketball player April Goins and former FAU linebacker Cergile Sincere, who is helping to market this week’s game. Today we’ll look ahead to the FAU women’s basketball season, which begins at noon against Webber International at FAU Arena. We also will have our preview for Saturday’s football game against the Ragin’ Cajuns and be following the basketball opener when the Owls take on UC-Davis at 7 p.m. in Portland.
Does anyone else work this hard to bring you in-depth coverage of FAU sports? Just keep checking out FAUOwlAccess.com and we’ll keep you up to speed.