That's what it has become these days. If it was Mercer wanting to join the Sun Belt and not Georgia State, would the Sun Belt take them? Probably not, unless people think higher of Macon, Ga., than I would guess. I dare say it's a good thing Troy and Arkansas State, to name a few, are already solidified in the Sun Belt because the Montgomery/Pike County/Dothan market isn't much to brag about and anyone who claims the Little Rock or Memphis market for ASU is fooling themselves - despite the recent success of both football programs and other nice, new buildings.
North Texas was the Sun Belt's big dog in football when the conference was in its infant stages and not very good. Since then, all the Mean Green have to brag about football-wise is a nice stadium, but they have been one of the best men's basketball programs. FIU, I'm not really sure about, but the school is in Miami and it counts.
The Mountain West is also adding Utah State and San Jose State. So, the two schools left out in the cold are New Mexico State and Idaho. Unfortunately, the schools know their place, as you can read how New Mexico State feels and how Idaho feels (this one's an even better read on the state of college football). But where do they go? Can't see the MWC taking them, and the option of being a football-only member of the Sun Belt could be there, but I got the feeling if the Sun Belt wants to add more teams that they'll listen much harder to the cases of the "4 to 6" FCS teams in the Sun Belt footprint that have spoken with commissioner Karl Benson. Teams you look at there would be Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Sam Houston State, Lamar, perhaps Jacksonville State.
***Troy baseball is at UL-Lafayette, with the two last-place teams in the Sun Belt trying to create some separation and fight for a Sun Belt Tournament spot. But at 8-13, Troy and ULL are just one game behind three teams tied for sixth and only three back of the two teams tied for fourth place. Let's say Troy goes on a hot streak to close the year and finishes 7-2 or 6-3, and they might end up as a middle seed in the 8-team tournament. But the Trojans have to take a series from a team it hasn't had much success against since joining the Sun Belt.
Meanwhile, second baseman Tyler Vaughn received an academic honor on Friday morning.
11:55 a.m. EDIT - statement from Karl Benson on North Texas & FIU leaving for Conference USA
Two current Sun Belt Conference members, North Texas and Florida International, have publicly announced their intention to leave the Sun Belt Conference on July 1, 2013.
“Over the course of the last several weeks, both universities were cooperative and kept an open line of communication throughout the process,” said Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson. “Both have been members in good standing during their time in the league and have contributed to the growth and success the Sun Belt has achieved in recent years. We wish them good luck.”
“Despite the departures, the Sun Belt Conference has a strong footing with its current membership and has been active in recent weeks in bettering the league throughout this realignment process,” Benson said. “The Sun Belt previously announced the additions of Georgia State and Texas State and both of those universities will join the conference on July 1, 2013. The remaining Sun Belt members believe strongly that these two universities are very good additions and will be competitive in all sports on a national level.”
On Monday, May 7 the Sun Belt Conference’s presidents and chancellors will meet to discuss the next course of action. Additionally, the Sun Belt Conference’s annual Spring Meeting will take place May 20-23.