Sun Belt: Out With The Old, In With The New
By Peter Burke
Perhaps there's no better way to summarize the 2013 college football season than addition through subtraction.
As the dominos continue to fall amid the expansion craze, the Sun Belt Conference is no exception to the defections that have fans scratching their heads trying to figure out the fate of their favorite college teams.
Bidding farewell in 2013 are Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee and North Texas. All four teams join the Conference USA this season.
The newcomers are Texas State, which moves to the Sun Belt from the Western Athletic Conference, and Georgia State, which is entering only its fourth season fielding a team.
Both teams had losing records a season ago, so while they may not immediately appear to be upgrades for a conference with only two bowl tie-ins, they do carry appeal in location and marketability.
Texas State opens the Sun Belt to the widely coveted recruiting hotbed of the Lone Star State, while Georgia State does the same for the Atlanta area and the rest of the Peach State.
Both teams also have coaches who can inspire the fan base.
Head coach Dennis Franchione, who returns for his third consecutive season with his former school, leads Texas State. Franchione also coached the Bobcats for two seasons in the early 1990s (when the school was known as Southwest Texas State) before successful stints at TCU, Alabama and Texas A&M.
The Bobcats have played hopscotch each of the past three seasons, transitioning from Football Championship Subdivision status in 2011 as an independent and then joining the WAC in 2012.
Georgia State begins its inaugural season in the FBS.
New head coach Trent Miles takes over for Bill Curry, who retired after last season's team finished 1-10. Miles was 20-36 in five seasons at Indiana State, but the Sycamores improved from 0-12 in 2008 to 7-4 in his final year.
In his first high-profile hire, Miles chose former Boston College head coach Jeff Jagodzinski to be his offensive coordinator.
The Panthers won't be eligible to win the Sun Belt championship until 2014 because of their transition to major college football status.