What to Expect to Expect from Two Days of #SunBeltHeat
I’ve never attended Sun Belt Media Days – at least not in person. Video conferencing allows me to bounce in and out at my convenience, and I significantly reduce me chances of being caught forgetting a coach’s name or winding up in the New Orleans drunk tank along with half of the reporter’s pool.
This season is different. We are embarking upon an historic Sun Belt football season, welcoming in four new members, three of which poached from business rival CUSA. According to a recent poll from the Athletic, the Sun Belt enjoys “far and away…the strongest approval rating among its fans,” thanks in part to a footprint that fosters rivalry rather than marketshare. At no time has it been better to be a Citizen of the Sun Belt.
What do I expect from Sun Belt Media Days? Probably lots of awkward mingling. Likely booze. Perhaps a few announcements. Keith Gill (he’s the commissioner of the Sun Belt) has already teased some bowl game news and some kind of media rights announcement. What else you got?
The Sun Belt has Supplied a 2-Day Schedule
I kind of feel sorry for Kane Womack, who hits the podium about the time everybody is looking to head out of town. Arkansas State and Butch Jones get a sweet 11:30 AM slot – right before lunch. How do they determine the order? Maybe I’ll ask, but I probably won’t.
We’ll Get to Know Some New Coaches
I keep forgetting that Troy fired Chip Lindsey and hired Jon Sumrall to replace him. In all, three Sun Belt programs made changes after the 2021 season. This graphic serves as a reminder to you and me.
Conference expansion has also blessed us with an additional four new guys, for which I thoughtfully made this graphic so I might recognize them on my way to the jukebox to play “House of the Rising Sun.”
Will Hall is a new hire for Southern Miss, but he shouldn’t feel awkward about it because all four are fairly new to their current programs, which means nothing of course, I’m just trying to make a word count.
Who Will the Coaches Pick to Win the West and East?
It’s my observation that Sun Belt coaches rarely pick a ranking order incongruous to the order set by Athlon or Phil Steele. What makes this year’s picks a bit more intriguing is that nobody really knows what to expect from the new guys, especially James Madison. Will the former FCS program struggle to match-up with FBS depth, speed and size? Or will Jimmy Mads pull a Georgia Southern and put a thump on us OGs?
There Will Be Players Wearing Suits
Players wearing suits is always a spectacle. Somebody should publish a coffee table book comprised just of photos of college football players wearing suits. We’ll call it Football Players Wearing Suits. It would make a perfect companion to Football Players Crammed In Airplane Fuselages.
What’s funny is that members of the press – for whom this event is held – won’t likely be wearing suits. We’re going to see sweat-pants, stretch pants, pajama pants, big baggy t-shirts, and old button-down shirts with strained fabric around the gut. Odds are terrific that Jeff Reed (AStateNation) will be seen wearing a sad old baseball cap.
Anyway, we’re gonna see players – two apiece from each program. Arkansas State will be represented by Kivon Bennett and James Blackman. We’ll also see Boogie Knight, WR for ULM, Grayson McCall QB for Coastal Caroline, Chase Brice QB for Appalachian State, Chris Smith RB for Louisiana, Rasheen Ali RB for Marshall, and Kyle Vantrease QB for Georgia Southern. That’s a big pile of oversized guys hanging out with oddly shaped journalists.
PHOTO CREDIT: Sun Belt Media