Today, the sun shines a bit brighter for the Sun Belt, with national-scale success polishing unfamiliar luster onto the the SBC brand. Over the off season, the Sun Belt experienced its usual coaching turnover, but this time, the conference took a potpourri of approaches to filling vacant positions.

What we didn’t learn was much about the 2021 Red Wolves. That’s really the function of a Spring Game – getting nothing and liking it. After all, aan offense that puts 500 yards in the Spring can easily average under 300 in the fall. All fans can really expect is to put an eye on some prospects, gauge the attitude of the new coach, and inventory the stars who are too injured to suit up.

Universities invite change, culture, exotic foreigners, weird art, spiritual awakenings, alcohol use, dancing, sexual experimentation, diversity, exposed abdomens, traffic, and a rainbow of criminal activities – drivers of growth both positive and painful that are at odds with Jonesboro’s unofficial charter of peace, quiet, and predictably. For decades, Arkansas State was viewed by many locals as a potential powder keg whose only purpose was to destroy the status quo. Jonesboro likes its quo.

Much like the hire of Butch Jones earlier this year, the Bowen hire smacks of bottomline mentality. Under Bowen, Memphis radically transformed its football infrastructure while maintaining acceptable (if not championship caliber) results in basketball. It was Bowen who ushered Memphis from CUSA to the Big East (lol) to the AAC. It was Bowen who hired Mike Norvell…and Tubby Smith, which was quite the drama.

If you’re a Georgia State fan, you’re probably pointing to the 158 point NET gap between the conference’s highest ranked program (the Panthers) and the lowest ranked program (the Warhawks). But honestly, so what, Panthers? This season was so COVID stupid, that the Sun Belt West has yet to even play the Sun Belt East. Furthermore, added to this whack-season is that the Warhawks have played six more games than the Panthers. What do we know about the Sun Belt? Nothing.

The defense is more intense. Fewer passes are sailing into the stands. Fans are no longer enduring comically long scoreless streaks. Omier went from South of the Border novelty to a legit basketball phenom. Fields seems to be recharged by senior Marquis Eaton’s sterling example as a leader and scorer. Wesley appears to be a successful junior college transfer willing to pound out some minutes and highlights. The pieces have clicked into place, with experience the only ingredient lacking.