FAU says it’s staying in the Sun Belt (for now)


If a report released earlier this week from Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News holds up, Conference USA and the Mountain West will announce a merger — not just a football-only association — some time within the next month.

If/when that happens, just how big the new conference will be remains uncertain. It’s believed, although far from confirmed, that the new C-USA/MWC merger would look into Florida and Texas to expand.

Sun Belt, you’re under the microscope.

But one team you can cross off the list — for now — to join that merger is FAU. School president Mary Jane Saunders told Owl Access on Friday that FAU has “not been invited to another conference… I think those decisions have already been made. I think it’s finished now. …We’re staying in the Sun Belt.”

FAU AD Craig Angelos, who was fired last week, also told the site there were no conversations between the two conferences and FAU.

But the Sun Belt could still stand to be raided, along with the WAC (again) and perhaps a team from the 1-AA ranks — or a combination of the three. FIU, Middle Tennessee and North Texas have all been connected to the merger before, and as Wilner explains in his blog, the merger could have greater ramifications than any realignment or expansion we’ve seen to date.

Which combination strikes up the best media deal will dictate which programs are included, if any, and which are forced to fend for themselves in a potentially undermanned league.

Former Navy coach Niumatalolo joins UCLA staff

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LOS ANGELES – Former Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo is joining UCLA’s coaching staff as director of leadership.

The school said in an announcement Friday that Niumatalolo will serve as an advisor to the Bruins’ football staff and players.

Niumatalolo led Navy for 15 years and was the winningest coach in school history at 109-83. The Midshipmen, however, finished with losing records the past three seasons, including 4-8 the past two.

Navy played in 10 bowl games under Niumatalolo. He also was the only coach to win his first eight games in the storied Army-Navy rivalry.

Troy, Jon Sumrall agree to new 4-year contract through 2026

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TROY, Ala. ⁠— Jon Sumrall agreed to a new four-year contract as Troy’s coach after leading the Trojans to a Sun Belt Conference championship and national ranking in his debut season.

The school announced the deal, which runs through 2026, but didn’t release details.

The Trojans went 12-2 and won their final 11 games, second only to national champion Georgia, including the league championship game and the Cure Bowl against UTSA. For the first time, they finished a season ranked, ending up 19th in The Associated Press Top 25.

“When we appointed Coach Sumrall in December 2021, we challenged him to return Troy football to the top of the Sun Belt Conference,” Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. said. “It didn’t take long, as the 2022 season was the best in our FBS history.”

Troy held all 14 of its opponents to under their season average in scoring, beating UTSA 18-12. The Trojans beat Coastal Carolina 45-26 in the Sun Belt title game.

“Last year was an amazing accomplishment for everyone associated with Troy football and was the product of relentless effort from our players and staff, athletic administration and university leaders,” Sumrall said.