Champions! Well, Maybe. Sort Of.
- Updated: December 1, 2016
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.