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Sun Belt Mailbag: Expansion On The Mind Edition

We field questions on adding new teams to the conference, Georgia State attendance and who has the best/worst unis.

Postal Service Employees Work Through The Holiday Busy Period Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

@markIterrell - Who returns the strongest team roster wise in 2017? Troy? App? stAte?

NCAA Football: Troy at Mississippi State
It’s taken Neal Brown three years to develop the best roster in the Sun Belt.
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

UDD: On paper, it seems Troy has the best roster in the Sun Belt. The Trojans get a four-year starter, a back that could finish the season as the program’s leading rusher, and all of their receiving production from 2016. Although not as strong on defense, the Trojans get second and third leading tacklers safeties Kris Weatherspoon and Cedarius Rookard back. Add defensive tackle Baron Poole II and his 8.5 tackles for loss. I’m taking Troy’s roster over anyone in the conference. However, Appalachian State and Arkansas State are not far behind.

@CUSAbbs - Will playing in a new stadium make a difference in Georgia State attendance?

UDD: I think that’s putting the cart before the horse a bit. Even though the team beat Southern last season, it took a step back as a whole. State lost significant pieces across the board heading into the this year, but if they put up wins, people will follow. But the nostalgia of Turner Field will certainly help attendance this year even if the team might struggle.

@ErksEaglesGATA - Will Ga Southern get back on track with the triple option and its new OC Bryan Cook?

UDD: At this point it’s up in the air. Figured last year’s offense under David Dean would keep the strong running attack while adding a bit of a passing game but the whole thing was a mess. I think Cook has the potential and knows how to properly call a shotgun-option offense, so this season may end up in good hands despite the loss of talent from last year’s team.

@AVKingJames - What does the SBC's draft performance mean for the conference as a whole?

UDD: Recruiting must improve. Period. It wasn’t a great draft day for the league as the we only had six prospects selected and that was easily the worst among all FBS conferences. The easiest way to win on draft day is to win on signing day and the league must pull in better classes to climb out of the gutter.

@JakePendergist - Who has the best and worst overall "package" in the belt (package being name, color scheme, jerseys, logos etc)

UDD: Give me Coastal Carolina as the best. The Chanticleers have to be one of the coolest names in college football and their mascot definitely looks the part of a bad ass rooster. Throw in the fact that their head coach once ran Wall Street, they have a newly renovated stadium, and this program just has some type of cool factor. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re right by Myrtle Beach or that Brooks Stadium has a teal turf, but the Chants just have a nice brand and those new Under Armor jerseys are pretty nice.

NCAA Football: New Mexico State at Mississippi
If Bama can’t make crimson and white cool, New Mexico State can’t either.
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

My least favorite is New Mexico State. Their color scheme has always bored me, and reminds of a generic FCS school in the NCAA Football video game. Although I do like the Pistol Pete logo.

@JoelTheTailor - Which team would be the most welcomed to return to the Sun Belt?

UDD: Should C-USA explode I think Western Kentucky would be number one but realistically, that’s probably a long shot, I think the Belt wouldn’t mind if North Texas decided to come back so they can give Texas State a traveling partner. North Texas dominated the Sun Belt in the early 2000s so we know their potential as a member. The Mean Green hasn’t actually done anything of note since joining C-USA and appear to be on the way up with Seth Littrell as head coach so why not bring them back when they’re good again. Speaking of giving Texas State a travelling partner...

@JaredUTSA - Should the Sun Belt add a Texas FCS program to be a travel partner with TXST? If so, who should it be?

UDD: Seeing as through the years Texas State has accumulated a hoard of historical series with quite a few in-state opponents I think it would be a good idea to add an in-state FCS program but even better to add a Texas based FBS program. Since the question was aimed toward the FCS I’ll say Sam Houston State would be a great addition. These two were Southland Conference foes for years and even though the Bobcats made the jump to the FBS seasons ago there would be no love lost should the rivalry be renewed.

@JakePendergist - The pros and cons of the upcoming football divisions next season (west ASU, ULL, ULM, TXST USA-East GAST, GASO, App, Troy, CCU)

UDD: Consistency for one. Previously it was crapshoot of who would draw who and made for very unbalanced schedules. Take this year for example, it appears to be a three-team race in the Sun Belt (Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Troy) and the Mountaineers avoid both the Red Wolves and the Trojans. Add in the championship game and the Sun Belt will get to showcase the league’s best on the first weekend of December.

Cons would be the balance of the divisions. It appears perennial power Arkansas State got a much better draw as consistent winners Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, and Troy are both in the same division. I would prefer some type of pod system scheduling and having the two best teams playing the conference chip. However, it’s hard to complain as the league is making some good steps in the right direction.

@JesseLeonard11 - Do u see Liberty eventually joining the Sun Belt?? I can't see them having to much success as a independent.

UDD: UMass is the only current G5 Independent right now and they have struggled to build any national interest into their program. Add in the fact that they’ve had a stressful traveling scheduling and I’d bet UMass wishes they were in a conference.

I see Liberty struggling under the same circumstances. If the Sun Belt wanted Liberty then they’d be in the conference already. Should conference realignment happen again, I feel like the Sun Belt will have better options to choose from in C-USA and the FCS (James Madison anyone?) than to give Liberty a shot. I’d put their odds a less than 15%.