7/14 Roundtable - 5 Thoughts On The Sun Belt

Troy LB Boris Lee

7/14 Roundtable - Five thoughts on the upcoming Sun Belt season. It's the Tuesday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.

CFN Daily Roundtables

July 14

5 Thoughts on the Sun Belt.

Over the next several weeks, as part of the CFN 2009 Preview, we'll examine some of the key questions going into the year with a daily discussion of the big topics.

Past Roundtables
7/13 5 Thoughts on the Big 12
7/10 M-West & the BCS
7/9 Guilty Pleasures
7/8 OU or OSU - Biggest BCS Bust
7/7 5th BCS Game
7/4 Should the SEC get a BCS break?
7/3 There should be a playoff
7/2 There shouldn't be a playoff
7/1 The unbreakable record
6/30 BCS on ESPN
6/29 Best non-BCS program
6/26 Rule changes
6/25 Why does the Big 10 stink?
6/24 Top 3 non-conference games
6/23 Coach on the hot seat
6/22 The No. 5 team is ...
6/19 Most underrated teams
6/18 Most overrated teams
6/17 BCS title sleeper
6/16 Do 40 times matter?
6/15 Is a Rooney Rule needed?
6/12 Should Bama vacate wins?
6/11 Should players be paid?
6/10 Recruiting hype
6/9 Your No. 1 draft pick
6/8 Where would you coach?
6/5 Who does the least with the most?
6/4 Who does the most with the least?
6/3 Sept. star players
6/2 Who'll generate early buzz?
6/1 The one coach you'd want
5/29 Tebow, McCoy, or Bradford?
5/28 Should the Big Ten expand?
5/27 Should the Pac 10 expand?
5/26 Chizik, Kiffin, or Mullen?
5/24 Heisman sleepers
5/22 Most interesting teams
5/21 Is Tebow the best ever?
5/20 When should polls come out?
5/19 The M-West & the BCS, Part 1
5/18 BCS or bust for Weis

Pete Fiutak, CFN

Yes, I'm part of the problem. You can check me out at twitter.com/CFN_Fiu and find out future roundtable topics and other random musings.

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Sun Belt.

A:
One of the biggest complaints from decent college basketball teams that aren't in a major conference is that no one will schedule them. A win for the bigger school against a great "mid-major" doesn't get much in the way of credit from the fans while a loss wouldn't exactly be an upset. The Sun Belt is going to start to hit the same problem again soon.

I was a guest on a radio show this morning and the host was dogging the Florida non-conference schedule, laughing at how the Gators weren't exactly extending themselves by scheduling Troy. Never mind that Troy might be among the 60 best teams in the country, will go bowling, and can hold its own with almost anyone (outside of Florida), the lack of respect is commonplace.

On the flipside, Bama fans are still talking about the loss to UL Monroe a few years ago. Missouri still points to the loss to Troy in 2004 as an example of how the program has to focus game in and game out. Florida Atlantic came up with a win over Minnesota two years ago, and won a bowl game last year, Middle Tennessee stunned Maryland a week before the Terps beat Cal, and Arkansas State opened up the year with a win over Texas A&M. There will be a few Sun Belt wins over some BCS teams this year, and they won't be flukes.

Fine, so the Sun Belt teams would struggle if they had to handle the A efforts from the BCS squads, but there's enough talent among the starters at places like Troy, Arkansas State, and Florida Atlantic to be legitimately dangerous on a given Saturday.

Will teams stop scheduling Sun Belt teams for fear of a tough battle? No, the Sun Belt teams are still easy dates to bring in, but the BCS schools can't shy away from giving the Sun Belt a chance. Instead of schedule the true cupcake from the FCS, give Middle Tennessee a shot. BCS teams should test themselves a bit, especially in the south, by making the short trips over to FIU, UL Monroe, or Arkansas State to get their teams ready. All the Sun Belt wants is a shot, and it deserves more of one against the bigger boys.

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Sun Belt.

A:
Troy. Gobs of NFL talent. Trojans. What are three things associated with USC football, Alex? Try again.

If you want a reason to watch Sun Belt football this fall, carve out some time for that other Troy, the Trojans of Alabama. Not only is the program a considerable favorite to win back-to-back league championships, but it’s quietly becoming an underrated pipeline to the NFL. As hard as it is to imagine, the Trojans have no less than seven defensive players alone, who are already getting looks from pro scouts. There are SEC teams that don’t have that much senior talent on the roster. Now, Troy doesn’t have as much depth as an SEC squad, but with Brandon Lang and Cameron Sheffield forming a bookend at end, Boris Lee and Bear Woods at linebacker, and Jorrick Calvin at corner, don’t be shocked if this team forces Florida and Arkansas into some three-and-outs later this year.

Okay, just because Rey Maualuga, Taylor Mays, and Brian Cushing don’t play for this Troy does not mean the program isn’t worth your attention. This is an atypical Sun Belt team that has enough defensive playmakers to be one of the sneaky-good programs from outside the BCS conferences in 2009.

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Sun Belt.


A: Not to be a buzzkill or killjoy (or anything else involving the word “kill”), but quite frankly, who’s gonna have the cojones to wrest this conference away from the Troy Trojans? Larry Blakeney’s program keeps chugging along, and after last year’s impressive near-win at LSU (in a night game, at that), combined with a 48-3 shellacking of second-place Louisiana-Lafayette, it’s darn near impossible to pick against the “other” Troy, the one not awash in laudatory Los Angeles sentiments.

The case for a Troy repeat as conference champion is bolstered by the fact that the Trojans get to host coach Howard Schnellenberger’s Florida Atlantic outfit, ably quarterbacked by Rusty Smith. FAU’s Motor City Bowl upset of Central Michigan will have the Owls in high spirits this season, but after making the trek to the small Alabama college town, the sons of Schnellenberger figure to be bruised and beaten.


Hunter Ansley, Publisher, DraftZoo.com


Q: 5 Thoughts on the Sun Belt.

A: I’ll be watching the Troy Trojan get a second shot at an SEC team.   After coming so close to stealing a game down in Baton Rouge, Troy has my attention at least for this season

They’ve got two big opportunities to surprise this year, but one of them might as well be written off as a loss today.  The Trojans are not going to beat the Gators in Gainesville.  In fact, they probably couldn’t beat them if they put 15 men on the field.  Florida circa 2009 is a much better team than LSU was last season.

But the game they do have a prayer in will come on the same weekend that saw them almost kill a giant in 2008.  On November 14th, the Trojans take on Arkansas in Arkansas.  The Razorbacks are a much improved team, but they could be spent coming off of a four game stretch that includes road contests at Florida and Ole Miss and a home game against South Carolina.Troy, predictably, is heading in after a supremely easier slate. It’s not a lock, but it’s worth watching.

One other Sun Belt morsel worth mentioning is the fact that Florida Atlantic could become the first team in league history to win back-to-back bowls.  The Owls knocked off Central Michigan in last season’s Motor City Bowl, and if they finish around third in the conference again, they could be afforded another easy matchup.  Rusty Smith is a talented and underrated QB, and he’ll have three pretty productive tight ends to work with this fall.  The only problem could be a surprise league title that would pit them against a tougher team in the New Orleans Bowl.


Jon Miller, Publisher, HawkeyeNation.com

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Sun Belt.

A: I’ll be watching the Troy Trojan get a second shot at an SEC team.  After coming so close to stealing a game down in Baton Rouge, Troy has my attention at least for this season.

They’ve got two big opportunities to surprise this year, but one of them might as well be written off as a loss today.  The Trojans are not going to beat the Gators in Gainesville.  In fact, they probably couldn’t beat them if they put 15 men on the field.  Florida circa 2009 is a much better team than LSU was last season.

But the game they do have a prayer in will come on the same weekend that saw them almost kill a giant in 2008.  On November 14th, the Trojans take on Arkansas in Arkansas. The Razorbacks are a much improved team, but they could be spent coming off of a four game stretch that includes road contests at Florida and Ole Miss and a home game against South Carolina.  Troy, predictably, is heading in after a supremely easier slate. It’s not a lock, but it’s worth watching.

One other Sun Belt morsel worth mentioning is the fact that Florida Atlantic could become the first team in league history to win back-to-back bowls.  The Owls knocked off Central Michigan in last season’s Motor City Bowl, and if they finish around third in the conference again, they could be afforded another easy matchup.  Rusty Smith is a talented and underrated QB, and he’ll have three pretty productive tight ends to work with this fall.  The only problem could be a surprise league title that would pit them against a tougher team in the New Orleans Bowl.


    

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