Just two weeks ago, the Sun Belt officially announced who plays who in 2016. There was debate and curiosity regarding the fixtures, as usually seems to be the case regarding the #FunBelt.
Now, it appears a lot more information about the future has been lent our way.
The Idaho Spokesman, in an article dated January 15th, the same day the Sun Belt 2016 slate was released, showed not only the Vandals' 2016 Sun Belt schedule, but also their 2017 slate.
Idaho in 2016 will host Georgia State, Troy, New Mexico State and South Alabama while traveling to UL Lafayette, App State, UL Monroe and Texas State.
The 2017 slate leads to the first conclusion.
There Will Be Minimal Change To The Sun Belt Schedule Between 2016 And 2017
Seven of the eight opponents on the Vandals' 2017 slate are a flip of their 2016 list of foes with Coastal Carolina replacing Texas State as a home game.
So it looks like whoever Sun Belt teams don't play in 2016 will also be who they don't play in 2017, with a new addition.
Another nugget came last week on Coastal Carolina's message board when someone posted their home and away opponents for the Chanticleers' inaugural 2017 Sun Belt season. The source has CCU hosting Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Texas State and Troy while traveling to Appalachian State, UL Monroe, Arkansas State and Idaho.
While not 100% credible, Clue B does line up with Clue A. Texas State would need a new road opponent and it has Coastal traveling to Moscow.
And FYI, the vote to extend or remove Idaho and New Mexico State as football-only is about extending or removing then after the 2017 season. So that March vote has no effect on this.
If these two things are true, it does appear to validate a couple of things.
It Appears The Sun Belt Will Not Have Divisions In 2017
Seriously, look at the Idaho and Coastal slates. Idaho doesn't play everyone in the west and Coastal likewise for the east. Unless there's some insane zipper conference or going north/south, then it appears unlikely.
That leads to the next deduction.
There Will Be No Sun Belt Conference Championship Game In 2017
If there's no round-robin between all league members or no round-robin between equal divisions in a conference, there can be no football conference championship game. So unless the Idaho and Coastal schedules are false, it's not happening.
Furthermore, Karl Benson said back in the fall that he was shooting for a conference championship game in 2018 after all 10 or 12 members (depending on the Idaho/NMSU vote this March) are eligible, so it lends further credence to these reports.
Trying to prognosticate the 2017 Sun Belt home and away opponents for all 12 teams isn't easy with the apparent guidelines. Still, we tried. using some deductive reasoning like teams that didn't play in 2014/15 won't be affected and came up with this monstrosity. It's not gonna make everyone happy.
You're Way-Too-Early, Possibly-Wrong 2017 Sun Belt Schedule Predictions.
Home: New Mexico State, Georgia Southern, UL Lafayette, Coastal
Away: Idaho, UL Monroe, Georgia State, Texas State
DNP: Arkansas State, South Alabama, Troy
Home: Troy, Coastal Carolina, Texas State, UL Lafayette
Away: South Alabama, UL Monroe, New Mexico State, Georgia Southern
DNP: Idaho, Appalachian State, Georgia State
Home: Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Troy, Texas State
Away: Appalachian State, UL Monroe, Arkansas State, Idaho
DNP: South Alabama, UL Lafayette, New Mexico State
Home: Arkansas State, Georgia State, South Alabama, New Mexico State
Away: Coastal Carolina, Troy, Appalachian State, UL Lafayette
DNP: Texas State, Idaho, UL Monroe
Home: Idaho, Appalachian State, Troy, South Alabama
Away: Texas State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, UL Monroe
DNP: New Mexico State, UL Lafayette, Arkansas State
Home: UL Lafayette, Coastal Carolina, UL Monroe, Appalachian State
Away: South Alabama, Troy, New Mexico State, Georgia State
DNP: Arkansas State, Georgia Southern, Texas State
Home: Georgia Southern, UL Monroe, New Mexico State, Texas State
Away: South Alabama, Arkansas State, Appalachian State, Idaho
DNP: Troy, Georgia State, Coastal Carolina
Home: Georgia State, Arkansas State, Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina
Away: Texas State, Idaho, UL Lafayette, South Alabama
DNP: New Mexico State, Troy, Georgia Southern
New Mexico State
Home: South Alabama, Idaho, Arkansas State, Troy
Away: Texas State, Georgia Southern, UL Lafayette, Appalachian State
DNP: Georgia State, UL Monroe, Coastal Carolina
Home: UL Monroe, Idaho, Arkansas State, UL Lafayette
Away: Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Troy, New Mexico State
DNP: Appalachian State, Texas State, Coastal Carolina
Home: Appalachian State, Georgia State, UL Monroe, New Mexico State
Away: UL Lafayette, Coastal Carolina, Arkansas State, Troy
DNP: Georgia Southern, South Alabama, Idaho
Home: Texas State, South Alabama, Idaho, Georgia Southern
Away: Georgia State, Coastal Carolina, New Mexico State, Arkansas State
DNP: UL Lafayette, UL Monroe, Appalachian State
The best quick fix scenario for 2017 using the above info drops 2016 games Appalachian State vs Troy, Arkansas State vs Georgia State, Georgia Southern vs UL Monroe and and the aforementioned Texas State vs Idaho. Then you flip the 2016 schedule and plug in Coastal against those eight teams and not mess with the teams not playing the Chants. The only big negative is taking away App State vs Troy, but it seems to be the only thing that fits to make the rest easy.
Again, this might not be 100%, but with the info collected so far, it's looking decent. Amazing what you can do with some tidbits of info.