Late on Tuesday in the middle of the Copa America Centenario and the last big presidential primary night, the Sun Belt dropped the news many fans have been waiting over three years to hear.
#FunBelt holding a football-related press conference at 2p tomorrow. Should have a resolution on divisions and a championship game— Brant Wilkerson-New (@BrantWSJ) June 8, 2016
Sun Belt will become final FBS league to hold conference title game, sources told @ESPN. Sun Belt title game expected to begin in 2018— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) June 8, 2016
2018 is significant as it will be the year after Idaho and New Mexico State depart as football-only members and the league will be at 10 football teams with Coastal Carolina being fully FBS eligible in 2017.
According to the deregulation vote in January, here's how a league can host a conference championship game.
i) A game between division champions of a member conference that is divided into two divisions (as equally balanced as possible), each of which conducts round-robin, regular-season competition among the members of that division; or,
ii) A game between the top two teams in the conference standings following a full round-robin regular-season schedule of competition among all members of the conference.
So either the Sun Belt will have to split into two 5-team divisions or they'll play a 9-game round robin schedule. With non-conference and money games a priority for many schools, the two 5-team divisions is the likely course.
If divisions is the decision, the likely set-up will have Appalachian State, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Coastal Carolina and Troy in the East Division with South Alabama, Louisiana, UL Monroe, Arkansas State and Texas State in the West Division.
The big negative in that scenario is that Troy and South Alabama's Battle for the Belt will be split into different divisions, but it's possible that like in the SEC, every team will have a protected cross-divisional opponent.
With a CCG starting in 2018, the Sun Belt will be the 10th and last FBS team to start one up after the Big 12 announced a restart of their CCG starting in 2017 last week.