When the announcement of a Sun Belt championship game came out in February, I, along with many other SBC fans, was relieved. All Power 5 conference had championship games and most of the Group of Five conferences had a penultimate game to decide its upright championship.
It’s hosted by the top school, which is awesome for the fans. This joins the trend of the team with the top conference record having the privilege of being able to host the game.
Also, having a championship game in general raises SBC’s prestige as far as a conference goes. It creates excitement and gives the two schools an extra game to prepare for.
But with any other decision in sports, the decision to have an SBC championship had its flaws. The biggest flaw being the layout of the East and West divisions.
At first glance, it makes perfect sense. Teams that are west of Troy, Alabama are in the West division and teams that are east of Troy, Alabama are in the East division. So, yes, geographically it seems like a good move.
In the light of talent and good football however, its shameful.
For the inaugural championship game, 9-2 Appalachian State that was ranked in the AP poll earlier this season will be taking on 7-5 Louisiana that lost by 18 at home to a 5-7 Coastal Carolina. Riveting.
The Mountaineers are 16.5 point favorites Saturday against the Ragin’ Cajuns. This is the second highest spread for championship weekend this season behind the ACC championship where No. 2 Clemson is a 23.5 point favorite over 7-5 Pittsburgh.
What should happen in the Sun Belt’s case is tear down the division barrier and have the top two records battle in the championship game. They could still maintain rivalries like App State-Georgia Southern and Troy-South Alabama by having every team play every team in the conference.
“But divisions are so fun and place more importance against in-division opponents.”
This is the exact situation the Big 12 does currently and has done since their reinstitution of a championship game in 2017. Every big game still gains the attention it should, but at the end of the season you have the two best teams, No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 14 Texas, playing in arguably the most important game of the weekend.
If the championship game was in place this season, there’d be a rematch of App State and Troy, two nine win teams that have gained attention nationally for years. A much more exciting game than what SBC fans “get” to experience in Boone Saturday.
McClain Baxley, The George-Anne Sports Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org