The conference has seen growth, defections, additions, subtractions, and upgrades. But the process (absolutely necessary in the SBC evolution) was heavy on the unmerciful beatings.

Why do I care? Consider this: the Sun Belt plays the SEC far more than any Privileged Five conference. A normal human-being would glance at these numbers and assume that there is a jolly-good rivalry at play. After all, the Sun Belt has only played its natural peer rival, Conference USA, just 107 times.

In essence, we’ve exchanged proven commodities for assets with tantalizing promise. The entertainment value associated with “tantalizing promise” is the elixir of season ticket pitches and offseason content like this. But tantalizing promise is also the mana of transforming a good football team into something special. Thus far, new Red Wolves head football coach Butch Jones has sipped deeply from this chalice.