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Conference Championship Game Deregulation Compromise Likely Helps Idaho and New Mexico State: UPDATE

While the Sun Belt vote to retain Idaho and/or New Mexico State yet to come in March, the NCAA has announced that conference championship game deregulation has passed...with a caveat.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Conference championship game deregulation has finally passed.

The rule, which is believed to go into effect immediately, impacts the two FBS leagues with less than 12 members, the Big XII and the Sun Belt.

For the Sun Belt, the vote was important as despite adding a 12th football member in Coastal Carolina in 2017, the league was looking at the football-only members Idaho and New Mexico State.

With costs of travel and lackluster football at both institutions, the Sun Belt was looking at the option of cutting both loose after the 2017 season and having only 10 members, but still be able to host a conference championship game.

However, a late compromise to deregulation has likely saved both school's bacon for now.

So if the Sun Belt were to go to 10 members and want to host a conference championship game, they would have to play nine conference games. That would mess with future schedules and with many Sun Belt members dependent on money games, both home vs FCS and away at FBS, nine league games is highly unlikely. Plus, Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson has stated multiple times that the league is judged by how they do in non-conference.

Still, it's not a foregone conclusion that the Sun Belt will vote to renew Idaho and New Mexico State beyond 2017. That comes in the second weekend of March. It will come down to 8 league games with Idaho and NMSU versus 9 league games without Idaho and NMSU. That was said when the Sun Belt added Coastal a few months ago.

EDIT: Benson has released a statement.