The champion of the Sun Belt has been crowned for the 2022 season and it’s Jon Sumrall’s Troy Trojans who get the wear the literal championship belt for a year. Sumrall is among a very small group of head coaches who won 11 games in their first year with a program this year.
As can be expected from the week immediately following conference championship week, that wasn’t the only headline that will have large shockwaves throughout the conference.
Here’s what stuck out in the Sun Belt news cycle in the wake of the conference championship.
A Special Time at Troy
The Troy Trojans have now won more Sun Belt football championships than any current or previous member with seven. Jon Sumrall’s squad aced their first appearance in the league title game this past Saturday with a 45-26 victory over Coastal Carolina. The Trojans outscored 31-7 in the first half, setting them up for a second half where they were able to let the run game carry them to the win.
The victory meant that Troy finished a perfect 7-0 at home for the second time in program history. The only other time they achieved that feat was in 1996.
“That was as good a feeling as I ever had after a game,” Sumrall said after the game. “I’m proud of these kids. That’s what the best part of this is. These kids have worked so hard, and they’ve done so much, and they’ve been through a lot. To win five games a year for the last three years, there was a lot of change we brought to the staff, and a lot of it wasn’t comfortable.”
Troy also managed to crack the College Football Playoff Top 25 the Sunday following the game. Troy will face #25 UTSA, the Conference USA champions, in the Cure Bowl in Orlando on December 16.
Turnover For The Chants
As previously mentioned, the Chants didn’t play up to the level that people have come to expect from them the last several years. A few different factors contributed heavily to that, depending on how you look at it.
Sun Belt Player of the Year Grayson McCall played a few weeks short of what was the originally recommended rest period for his foot injury and clearly looked physically limited. He had 29 completions on 41 attempts for 319 yards and three touchdowns with one interception in the title game. He also rushed for 18 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown.
The second factor was the news of head coach Jamey Chadwell looking set to take the head coaching job at Liberty, replacing Hugh Freeze. ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported early Saturday on the hire. Chadwell stated before the game that he had not signed anything, but confirmed after the game that he had spoken with Liberty. Liberty announced the hire on Sunday.
Coastal Carolina announced the hire of North Carolina State offensive coordinator Tim Beck as the program’s new head coach that same day.
The Chanticleers are scheduled to face East Carolina in the bowl game on December 27. Defensive coordinator Chad Staggs will be the interim head coach for the bowl game.
G.J. Kinne Hired At Texas State
Texas State have found the coach who will replace Jake Spavital as their head football coach. G.J. Kinne became the only FCS head coach besides Deion Sanders (Jackson State to Colorado) to take on an FBS head coach role this cycle. Kinne is a native of Mesquite, Texas and spent 2022 as the head coach of Incarnate Word, who had the top offense in the nation this season. Kinne has also spent time as an assistant and analyst at UCF, Hawaii, the Philadelphia Eagles, Arkansas, and SMU.
Kinne played quarterback for Tulsa from 2008 to 2011 and was a member of NFL and CFL squads sporadically from 2012 to 2016.
“I’m excited to hit the ground running and compete for championships,” Kinne said in his introductory statement. “We are going to surround our players with excellent coaches, who down to their roots are teachers at heart. We are going to play fast, have relentless energy, and when the going gets tough, have the mental confidence to win tight games in the second half and represent the state of Texas.”
Kinne will remain with Incarnate Word until the end of their FCS Playoff run, which continues on Friday at Sacramento State.
Spavital has since been hired as the offensive coordinator at Cal, a role he also held for one season previously in 2016.