By Nathan Ham
July 18, 2013
More than 100 journalists were present for the 2013 Sun Belt Media Day, quite a bit more than the Appalachian State Mountaineer fans, coaches, players and administrators were used to seeing in the Southern Conference days.
While ASU will continue playing football in the SoCon for one more season, the first Sun Belt Media Day really made it hit home that the Mountaineers are moving to the highest level of college athletic competition.
The media event was held in New Orleans as that city remains the headquarters for the Sun Belt Conference.
Also at the league-wide meeting, conference executives discussed how things will be changing in the coming seasons.
The league will be implementing new non-conference scheduling systems that will allow each team to play a set number of non-conference games outside of their already-scheduled Sun Belt games. The goal is to boost each team’s strength of schedule, which will be one of the big components in the new rating system beginning in 2014.
Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson told those in attendance that a group of conferences, called the “Gang of Five,” will take its highest rated team and will be guaranteed a spot in the 2014 College Football Playoff or a spot in a top-tier bowl game that will be played Dec. 31 or Jan. 1. Those five conferences are the Sun Belt, Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference and the American Conference.
While the chances of any team from one of those five conferences playing for the national championship is slim, it still gives App State fans that hated the decision to move up to the next level something to look forward to with the team potentially playing in a New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day bowl game.
Coinciding with the media event, ASU also announced the new web address for the Mountaineers’ athletic website. Formerly, www.goasu.com was the home for all App State sports news. Now, the web address will be www.appstatesports.com.