Just take a look at what the Sun Belt left in its wake after a fantastic football weekend.
The Nebraska coach shot, after the Cornhuskers fell to South Georgia.
Notre Dame was kicked out of the top 25, after Marshall shocked the Irish.
Jimbo Fisher releases painful mea culpas at Texas A&M, after Aggies were shot down by the Appalachian State.
Meanwhile, the Sun Belt Commissioner was having a great time.
If you thought the internet was on fire on Saturday trying to keep up with all the turmoil of the Sun Belt, you must have seen Keith Gill. He was there, driving through Interstate 35 in Texas trying to find Appalachian State-Texas A&M on his car radio, listening to play-by-play from Marshall-Notre Dame on his phone. He was there, feasting on a late dinner in a restaurant parking lot while trying to watch South Georgia finish Nebraska on his phone. Here he is running back to his hotel room to try to put this wonderful day into perspective.
“It’s unbelievable when you think about it,” he would say on Monday. “When I got back to my hotel watching ‘College Football Final’ on ESPN, they drove the Sun Belt. That’s our motto there.”
The Sunbelt teams emerged from three heavyweight college football players they had never played before, in front of a live audience of 257,008 stunned partisans. The whole sport shook.
“When you think about the games, those games were broadcast nationally against conventional forces,” Gill said. “For us, it underscores what we already know; that we can play with anyone. And I think it also underlines the work of CEOs and advertising in terms of how they invest in their programmes, the coaches and players who are really doing everything that are on the field. These are life-changing moments.” “
𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗧𝗘𝗠𝗘𝗡𝗧 𝗦𝗔𝗧𝗨𝗥𝗗𝗔𝗬.Tweet embed 𝗦𝗛𝗢𝗪𝗘𝗗 𝗢𝗨𝗧 in week 2. ☀️🏈
▪️𝗗𝗘𝗙𝗘𝗔𝗧𝗘𝗗 No. 8/9 Notre Dame
▪️𝗗𝗘𝗙𝗘𝗔𝗧𝗘𝗗 No. 6/6 Texas A&M
▪️𝗘𝗫𝗧𝗘𝗡𝗗𝗘𝗗 The nation’s longest winning streak pic.twitter.com/IHNqu3qOZl
– Sunbelt September 11, 2022
And the commissioner? The commotion was still going on at the Sun Belt’s New Orleans office on Monday with media calling from here and Yoon. Talking to all of them, Gil said, “Because you definitely don’t want to miss the moment… it was probably the best weekend in Sun Belt history. I feel so proud and lucky to be a part of it.”
Let him describe Saturday. He was in Texas for the Texas State game with Florida International, as part of his personal rule of visiting each member’s campus during football season.
He started his day in his hotel room in San Antonio, watching South Alabama advance early into central Michigan, and Georgia start pushing North Carolina. Then it was time for the 50-mile drive to the campus of Texas State University in San Marcos, where the amazing news started pouring in from elsewhere.
“I found what the Texas A&M Radio Network was, so I had this game on my car radio. Then I called my brother-in-law and he was giving me a play on Notre Dame Marshall. I did it all the way to San Marcos. And the Marshall game was over before I got to San Marcos.” When I got to San Marcos, I started watching the Texas A&M game on my phone. Then my internet went off, so I went up to the press box to watch the end of the game from there.”
He personally watched Texas mash up Florida International, as part of a 10-4 Sunbelt day, and then it was time to head back to San Antonio — and follow up on another upset.
“I actually stopped at the In-N-Out Burger, sat down and watched the Nebraska-Georgia Southern game, and then got my phone really loud so I could listen to that game while back in San Antonio. It’s not really exciting or charming, but I was I’m just trying to figure out the best I can.It’s cool to go old school.It’s like I’m in Texas so follow the Texas A&M Network.
“At the end of the day you are excited if you experience one of these upheavals, but getting all three types in a row is a great thing. We know the quality of our football so these are opportunities to really showcase it and send a message to everyone about how good football is at Sun Belt, you don’t want to be too close and then not over the hump for victory. Getting all three of those on the same day is very special for the conference.”
Not even all of this was a surprise. A week before he went to Virginia Tech and watched Old Dominion rock hockey. That same weekend, Coastal Carolina’s win over Army and App State captivated the world of college football by scoring 40 points in the fourth quarter from a 63-61 basketball loss to North Carolina. The Tar Heels returned to the field last week against more Sun Belt problems, barely holding off Georgia State 35-28.
Thus, this goes for a league with 0.649 cup win percentages since 2014, including 7-2 in the past two years. The Sunbelt has expanded from 10 to 14 teams this year, adding Marshall, Old Dominion and James Madison. Marshall and the Old Dominion have already made themselves at home by disturbing the big fish. And the App State was already a notorious source of trouble for Power-5 opponents.
“It’s good for the league. I think the high tide lifts all the boats,” Gill said of this huge success in football by many conference teams, both old and new. “The good thing about our football programs is that we really expect to win every time we go out on the field. It feels good, to have that confidence. That’s a mentality we had, and I think everyone got a chance to see that and experience that on Saturday.”
The sun belt may not work. UCLA got a fair warning. The Bruins host South Alabama on Saturday. Baylor and Virginia are also with Texas and Old Dominion coming to town. Even Alabama has a Sun Belt warning, though expecting ULM to give Tide a fight at Tuscaloosa will demand a lot.
Jill will be in the App State, where ESPN GameDay has decided to stage a Mountaineers Conference match with Troy. More attention to the sun belt. But his phone will be charged and his son-in-law will be alerted. He never knows these days when the Sun Belt football team needs his full attention.