While Georgia State football is entering the summer off-season and concentrating on getting stronger, faster and better while building on their inaugural season in 2010, there have been rumblings of new long-term plans as its future conference home, the CAA , continues to shed teams.
In the last 24 months, Northeastern and Hofstra have dropped football. Rhode Island has announced it's dropping down to the Northeast Conference while shedding scholarships and decreasing travel costs. UMass announced officially Wednesday that it's jumping FBS and will join the MAC in 2012. Villanova is dancing with the Big East and may have a decision by June.
As The Clash said in 1981, "Should I stay or should I go?"
Matthew Postins, blogger of PigskinU.com based in Dallas, Texas, believes that Georgia State joining the Sun Belt makes sense on Atlanta radio Thursday morning on WQXIA 790 the Zone's Barnhart & Durham Radio Program. Actually, his exact words were, "makes the most sense." Why does he feel this strongly?
Long time college football writer Tony Barnhart agrees, "From the people that I talked to [at Georgia State], they looked into programs like Troy and others in the Sun Belt." He did continue and say GSU administration "are committed to walking before they run."
This would give the Sun Belt three top-20 media markets within its conference base and gets it one step closer to the magic number of 12. South Alabama, who takes a trip to the Georgia Dome on October 22 this Fall, joins as a full Sun Belt member in 2013 as it ascends from non-existence to FCS to FBS.
So what does this increased media exposure give the conference? That would be the most important word in the sports business: leverage. The leverage to negotiate a much bigger television deal and larger bowl ties ins (which the Sun Belt currently has two of). Postins mentioned that he could not research the actual Sun Belt television deal with a major network because he believed it may be a throw-in equaling less than $1 million. This doesn't work in college football, and it's why many believe they will expand in the next 24 months.
The Sun Belt and commissioner Wright Waters have made it clear that it will expand along its geographic footprint. It just so happens that Atlanta is within that geographic footprint. Postins believes that travel costs and a league that the Panthers could compete immediately would be more than a compelling reason for both sides to form a partnership.
When announcing football, coach Bill Curry mentioned that he studied programs like South Florida. Will the Panthers take a page out of the South Florida playbook and ascend to FBS within their first five years? It makes a ton of sense to me.