Sun Belt putting expansion talks on table, will revisit in offseason


The Sun Belt Conference is sitting on an 11-school membership entering the 2015 season. It is too late to add any new members to the fold now, but the conference is not going to close the book on the topic of expansion just yet. Right now though, the conference appears to have mixed emotions on expansion, and that could cause a stalemate.

Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson said the conference is no longer using the possibility of holding a conference championship game as a means for expansion, but the topic will be revisited in the offseason. By rule, the NCAA requires a conference to have 12 members in order to hold a conference championship game. The American Athletic Conference will join the ACC, Big Ten, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference, Pac-12 and SEC on the conference championship game schedule now that Navy has become the 12th member. The only conferences without a conference championship game are the Big 12 and Sun Belt Conference, although possible amendments to the NCAA rules could eliminate the need for 12 members in order to hold a championship game. Either way, the Sun Belt sees little advantage in fielding a championship game in its conference as things stand right now.

Louisiana-Lafayette head coach Mark Hudspeth touched on the topic Monday, saying a conference championship game in the Sun Belt only makes sense if it comes with a national television deal in prime time. Without a national television audience tuning in, the Sun Belt sees no benefit from playing an extra game. The Sun Belt is also not on the same level as some of the other Group of Five conferences where a conference championship game might push the Sun Belt champion into the New Years Six conversation at the end of the season. Maybe someday it will, but that will take time.

Benson also noted the conference is more interested in staying within its geographical footprint. His comment about geography came up when asked about the possibility of New Mexico State joining as a full-conference member. New Mexico State and Idaho are each football-only associate members, rescued from the implosion of the WAC during conference realignmageddon. The geography statements would also suggest a school like UMass is without question out of the picture. The Minutemen will be going independent in 2016 as the final year of their relationship of the MAC is set for this fall.

It would seem the most likely way for Sun Belt expansion to move would be to welcome up another FCS program that fits the chemistry of the conference. Appalachian State, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, South Alabama and Texas State all did that in recent seasons on their way to the Sun Belt. Conference USA has gone the same way as well with UTEP, Old Dominion and now Charlotte.

Utah State player upgraded to fair condition after collapse

utah state football
Stephen Lew/Getty Images
1 Comment

Utah State redshirt freshman wide receiver Josh Davis is in fair condition on Friday, one day after collapsing at spring football practice following sudden cardiac arrest, the university announced.

Davis, initially was listed in critical condition, was breathing on his own. He is in the intensive-care unit at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, Utah.

Davis’ parents arrived in Utah on Thursday evening.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Davis, who is from Carlsbad, California, collapsed at Merlin Olsen Field and was immediately treated by the training staff, the university said. He was taken to Logan Regional Hospital.

The university said Davis was stabilized in the Logan hospital before being moved to Ogden.

Alabama suspends freshman defensive back after drug arrest

alabama football
Getty Images

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama freshman defensive back Tony Mitchell has been suspended from the team following his arrest on a drug charge.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Monday after the first practice of spring that Mitchell was suspended from the team “and all team activities until we gather more information about the situation and what his legal circumstance is.”

The Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrested Mitchell and another man, Christophere Lewis, last week on a charge of possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page. Lewis also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.

“Everybody’s got an opportunity to make choices and decisions,” Saban said. “There’s no such thing as being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You’ve gotta be responsible for who you’re with, who you’re around and what you do, who you associate yourself with and the situations that you put yourself in. It is what it is, but there is cause and effect when you make choices and decisions that put you in bad situations.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a five-star prospect rated the 34th-best player and No. 3 safety in the 247Composite rankings.

Mitchell was driving the vehicle during a traffic stop. After deputies smelled marijuana, Mitchell picked up a baggie of marijuana from the passenger floorboard, according to the department’s Facebook post.

Sheriff’s deputies found “an additional significant amount of marijuana, a set of scales, a loaded handgun between the passenger seat and center console, and a large amount of cash,” according to the department’s Facebook post.