With the Sun Belt Media Days taking place in New Orleans this week most Sun Belt fans are really starting to focus on the upcoming season. Every year brings optimism within the Sun Belt. Every fan feels that their team can take the conference championship and they have good reason to believe in their team.
In the six short years that the Sun Belt has sponsored football, six different teams (of the current eight teams in the conference) can lay claim to a share of the conference championship. North Texas has won 3 outright championships and they have been the most dominating team overall, but they have certainly slipped off the Sun Belt mountain top in the past couple of years. North Texas also split the championship in 2001 with Middle Tennessee. Middle Tennessee also claimed a share of the championship in 2006 with Troy. In 2005 Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Louisiana-Monroe finished in a three-way tie for the championship. The only two current teams in the Sun Belt who have not won a share of the championship are Florida Atlantic and Florida International. They happen to be the two newest members of the Sun Belt as well.
In 2006 Middle Tennessee was picked to finish sixth. They exceeded all expectations and ended in a tie for first place and a berth in the Motor City Bowl.
This year Troy is the overwhelming favorite, but if recent history is any indication, there is a good chance that it will be another Sun Belt team making their way to the New Orleans Bowl.
It is evident by the recently released coaches poll that even the coaches have no idea who will be the superior team this year. After placing Troy as number one, it was clear the coaches didn’t know who to select next. Middle Tennessee was selected 2nd, but they received no first place votes. Three other teams received first place votes; Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe, and Florida Atlantic. These teams were picked to finish 3rd, 4th, and 6th respectively.
The saying “On any given Saturday” truly applies to the Sun Belt race. It is this balance that makes the Sun Belt race the most exciting conference race in all of college football. Unlike other conferences, there is not a clear upper echelon and clear bottom feeders. This is a conference that can be won by any team.
When someone tells you that their team will win the Sun Belt, don’t laugh. Anything is possible in the Sun Belt conference.
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