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Champions! Well, Maybe. Sort Of.

Photo by Allyson Lamb

Photo by Allyson Lamb

The Appalachian State Mountaineers are the 2016 Sun Belt Conference champions!

/loads confetti cannon. ready. aim. fi… what’s that?/

App State Twitter — yes, #FunBelt smartasses, that’s still a thing — was a buzz Saturday evening with praise and celebration aplenty. For the Mountaineers, in just their third FB$ season, had taken the Sun Belt crown! Well, at least part of it.

App finished another riveting often slumber-inducing conference slate with just one loss. Troy and Arkansas State head into their final conference games against two #FunBelt doormats, Georgia Southern and Texas State, with few — and, believe me, there are few — Sun Belt-watchers expected either to pick up a second #FunBelt loss.

/Yeah, #StinkNation, I said it: DOORMAT!/

So that means a three-way tie is likely. This scenario is a win-win-win because it allows App State, Arkansas State and Troy nations to all feel pretty good about themselves. Sure, each one failed to take care of business when they most needed to. But this isn’t an era of personal responsibility in the U-S-A. No, this is an era when we blame everyone else and declare ourselves under constant attack on multiple fronts. So each program and fan base can blame…the Sun Belt Conference…while polishing its third of the conference trophy.

After all, if the #FunBelt had a conference title game, this would be decided. If the conference used things like head-to-head matchups as tie-breakers, this would all be a bit clearer.

It’s the latter issue that gives your blogger pause. That’s because, let’s say, Texas State plays far above itself on Saturday night and upsets A-State. Should Troy shut down the floundering Eagles in The City of Gnats, that would leave the Trojans and Mountaineers atop the standings.

Not going to mince words, App Fans, if that happens this Mountaineer Maniac would have a hard time doing anything but recognizing Troy as the outright conference champ.

Out. Effing. Right.

The Trojans won that Nov. 12 thriller in Dixie fair and square. They jumped on an oddly flat and out-of-sorts App State club early, then made more plays late. In short, in the event of a two-way tie, Troy earned that trophy.

But, #HotTakes aside, the menage-trois scenario is far more likely. Throw in a UL-Lafayette win and here’s what we will know about life in the Sun Belt: These “big” regular season games matter even less than we thought because the New Orleans Bowl is expected to favor taking the local guys, what would be a 6-win Ragin’ Cajun team, over the conference’s Big Three: App State, Troy and Arkansas State.

Let’s face it: When Orlando, Birmingham and Mobile are the other possible destinations, the New Orleans Bowl is the one you want. So a UL-Lafayette berth in the Big Easy would feel demoralizing should App end up in the Cure Bowl or the /big disappointed sigh/ Dollar General Bowl.

For those who run the New Orleans Bowl, it’s a business decision. We get it. Take the sure thing, sell as many lower bowl seats in the Super Dome as possible. UL-L, through that lens, looks like a no-brainer. A six-win squad going to the conference’s plum postseason game? That would really make one question paramount: Just why does this rinky-dink as [expletive] conference even exist?

**

But, alas, the shortcomings of other conferences, mostly the Power Five offer some hope. If some of those conferences fail to have enough bowl-eligible teams, the Sun Belt and other Group of Five leagues would be called upon to supply bowl-eligible teams.

That could, according to “experts,” open the door to a couple exotic destinations outside Dixie.

One possibility that’s out there on the Internets: Sin City, baby! CBS Sports projects App filling in for the Pac-12 in the Las Vegas Bowl against San Diego State. That, folks, is tasty! Such a match-up would pit the #FunBelt’s best D against a potent Mountain West offense.

So maybe there’s no need to set up shop by the laptop for a loooooooooong day of Sun Belt action to try and decipher where the Mountaineers are headed in a few weeks. Maybe it’s better to hope any Power Five waivers from 5-win teams are rejected by the N-C-Double-A$$hole$, as fictional ESU linebacker Alvin Mack put it in “The Program.”

Since your blogger hasn’t ruled out taking off his shoes, belt, watch, pants (?) for the sake of the pure illusion that is U.S. airport security in the age of body scanners and highly trained K9s to see the Mountaineers play a Big Boy Football po$t$ea$on game, who cares about the “prestige” of getting one of the Sun Belt’s top bowls? Why not just angle for a sunny and warm destination, Doug Gillin?

/laughs out loud at the very notion this backwater conference has an ounce of prestige/

This blogger says if New Orleans Bowl officials pass on the Black and Nike Gold (™), Gillin should push for Orlando, site of the Cure Bowl (which gets the fourth #FunBelt pick), or even better, sunny Tucson, where the Arizona Bowl (which, for some damn reason, gets the conference’s leftovers) is played in a dry heat. Gillin says the Las Vegas Bowl is unlikely, but why not try, Doug?! Also put in some calls to the St. Petersburg Bowl, another non-Sun Belt bowl in an awesome sunny setting.

To review: #FunBelt regular season play, especially what your blogger and others were gullible enough to label “big games, is something of a joke, given how bowl berths are doled out. New Orleans or bust. Destination over faux “prestige.” Tucson or Vegas sound pretty sweet…and pretty warm. It’s time for Doug Gillin to work the phones and #GiveEmHell.  –Appstradamus (On Twitter: @APPstradamus)

P.S. American Athletic Conference, call Mr. Gillin. We’re ready whenever you need us.

12 Comments

  1. Pingback: Champions! Well, Maybe. Sort Of. | AppStateNews

  2. AppStateRick83

    December 1, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Once again Blogger Man…we disagree. This is not a "maybe…sort of" championship…it is just that, a "Championship." In the absence of a schedule of true equality I would argue that you can't look at just head-to-head competition as the determining factor in a tie. It's illogical to think that just because you both played the same number of conference games that those conference games were equal. For example, one of Troy's conference wins was against South Alabama (whom we did not play) who is currently like 10th in the league standings; whereas we beat UL-Lafayette (whom Troy did not play) who's 5th. And, coincidentally UL-Lafayette beat the team that beat Troy and we SPANKED Lafayette! A 24 to nothing shut out no less. SO, until the Sun Belt gets its divisions and championship game set up in 2018 I will celebrate any league leading ties as championships (just as the Sun Belt Conference allows).
    This App State team has earned this championship and to say otherwise…is just down right wrong. This all may be moot anyway since I believe Troy has a tougher test in Statesboro than most think. The Eagles are not going to lay down on this last chance for some kind of redemption on their disastrous season. The Georgia Southern-Troy game is a win/win situation for us, it either eliminates Troy from our tie or we get to see Southern lose again which is always fun…I'm good either way.

  3. carbine762

    December 1, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    I don't see a dime's worth of difference in any of the bowl games mentioned, at least as far as 'prestige' is concerned. I think getting the conference championship, or at least a share of it, is more important–though it won't break my heart if Troy puts the smack down on the Stink.

    • AppStateRick83

      December 2, 2016 at 8:29 am

      I agree there's not really a difference in "prestige" related to any of the Sun Belt aligned bowls. The difference though would be the in the fun of the location. Nothing against Montgomery at all, but we did that last year and it was awesome but New Orleans or Orlando has obvious attributes that would be fun this 2nd time around, I also understand Mobile is cool being right on the Gulf. However, if by some weird set of circumstances we played Houston in St. Petersburg or San Diego St. in Vegas, then I think that would get more attention and put us on a bigger stage nationally-speaking. We'd be catching Houston at a great moment in time and if we pulled off a win it'd move our program forward IMO. So, I'm hoping for St. Petersburg and playing Houston, but it's a long shot I know.

  4. WiseApp

    December 2, 2016 at 1:06 am

    Isn't that the reason the Apps moved on from the SoCon?——To run with the Big Dogs (or whatever name you want to give a female version of the Big Dogs in the Fun Belt). Please don't misunderstand me here. I LOVE Appalachian State and have since I first came to Boone in 1970 and begin working on the first of the three degrees I earned from our beloved alma mater. However, if this is our football "Promised Land", it makes the wilderness wanderings of Moses and his gang over 3,500 years ago look Iike child's play……….I'm not sayin'………..I'm just sayin'……………

    • AppStateRick83

      December 2, 2016 at 8:36 am

      WiseApp, we have not reached the "Promised Land" yet. We've only just broken the bondage of captivity of the Southern Conference and FCS and have escaped from our captors. The "Promised Land" lies somewhere over the horizon but we must keep our faith strong while we wander the wilderness of the Sun Belt. Keep the faith oh Wise one…

      • WiseApp

        December 2, 2016 at 5:52 pm

        Is the "Fun Belt" the "Promised Land" of App football? Please explain, if you will, which is better: (A) Winning three NCAA national football championships or (B) Going to an A, B, C—X, Y, Z bowl game that even the old App grads (like me) are likely to forget to remember…………Please enlighten me if you will…..Please………

        OBTW…….The Israelites spent 40 years in the desert before they were allowed into Caanan and all of those who left Egypt died in the wilderness–none lived to make it to the "Promised Land". If that be the Appalachian State scenario, many of us (me certainly included) will be watching it from a cloud with Moses and The Big Guy In The Sky!!!

        • AppStateRick83

          December 3, 2016 at 9:08 am

          I would not say the "Fun Belt" is the "Promised Land." I do, however, believe it's a step in the process. I believe there will continue to be tectonic shifts in college football and we're well positioned to take advantage of those. I also think that the Sun Belt will become more fun for us when the divisions and championship game are established in 2018. Our over-all situation will also get a step up when we start playing regional teams like Charlotte, ECU, Wake, Coastal Carolina (fun away game at the beach), Marshall, etc.
          I believe that we're well positioned to be the next Houston or Boise State and will be part of the national conversation in the not too distant future and, competing for the NY6 bowl, or whatever football playoff situation may exist as things evolve. I love playing and learning about these new teams in the Sun Belt as opposed to beating up on Elon, Western Carolina, et al year after year. I've seen enough of that, I do miss the playoffs but again, I think things will continue to evolve to give us something post-season-wise to get excited about. The 40 year thing and your assumption that you'll be on a cloud with The Big Guy…well both stretches as far as I can tell. 🙂 Love your passion dude but the FCS is in our rear-view mirror…

  5. AppStateRick83

    December 6, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    NOW that our much hated former SoCon brethren handed Troy their 2nd conference loss…I assume that removes all doubt about our rightful claim to a championship?!? Strike the "Well, Maybe. Sort Of" nonsense from the title. Looking at App State vs A-state, we definitely look like the dominant team winning 2 of our non-conference games and losing 2 to nationally ranked teams. Had our Troy game only been a minute shorter, we'd of run the SBC table. We didn't even have an FCS team on our schedule whereas…the Red Wolves LOST to an FCS…so let's just say that the Mountaineers are THE best team in the Sun Belt.

  6. Yikas1

    December 8, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    Every time I read your posts, I want to go out and slit my wrists. Talk about a wet blanket. This is a very depressing blog.

  7. WiseApp

    December 13, 2016 at 2:23 am

    Yikas, DON'T DO IT!!! As much as I love, honor and cherish ALL things Appalachian (Mountaineer football certainly included), wrist slitting brought on by blog comments seems to be counter productive and a waste of your time and blood!!!

    I live in Boone now and please trust me when I say that there are numerous–NUMEROUS–Appalachian alumni up on the mountain who do not like the direction Appalachian athletics (see football, especially) has taken in the last five years. Name calling won't change one damn thing but one man's opinion on anything is as legitimate as another, in reality. Just ask any high school drop-out Trumpeteer whose presidential vote cancelled out the vote of another citizen who is a multiple Appalachian graduate and has been following American presidential politics since at least 1960. All opinions are valid, I reckon. Whether it be opinions on the Mountaineers or of the Trumpeteers……….

  8. AppStateRick83

    December 13, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Camellia Bowl Tickets! I haven't seen any updates on AppStateSports about ticket sales but it's important that we sell-out our allotment. They're only $30 so please contact the ASU Ticket Office and buy some tickets or even just one even if you can't go…it will help with future bowl selections and will help the athletic department budget. GO APPS!

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