Update: April 10 –
Yesterday Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports reported a piece of news that’s very significant for Idaho and every football program that will call a Group of Five conference home. The five conferences will split $86 Million annually, with each conference’s base pay at $1 Million per school.
For example, a conference with 11 schools (tentatively the Sun Belt in 2014 with Western Kentucky on its way to C-USA) would only receive an $11 Million share, but a team with more than 12 schools would still only receive $12 Million.
This is to promote two things — Having a quality conference over simply a larger one, and to keep the Group of Five conferences from cannibalizing each other with further poaching of teams.
For Idaho, this is good and bad news. The good is that Idaho found a home to participate in this revenue sharing, and Idaho will get even more money in the scenario the Sun Belt is the highest rated Group of Five conference or the Sun Belt has the highest rated team that competes in the Access Bowl.
The bad news is that this will likely put an end to Group of Five conference expansion unless the major conferences decide to start it up again. Idaho AD Rob Spear had been very hopeful that a handful of FCS programs would contemplate the move up and a new western FBS conference would eventually be born. But with a $12 Million per year cap on base payments to conferences there is little incentive for conferences to expand past 12 to 14 members, which every conference will be at come 2015.
The Sun Belt is looking at FCS members James Madison or Liberty to replace the out-going Western Kentucky, but that should be it for FCS move-ups within the next two or three years.
As of now you may have heard the big news. Idaho will be putting its football in to the Sun Belt in 2014, preserving its FBS future for the time being. The Sun Belt will have 12 football members and will conduct a football championship game, with Idaho residing in the Western division of the conference.
Idaho joins New Mexico State, Georgia Southern and Appalachian State as the conference’s newest additions. Idaho will compete with NMSU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Arkansas State and Texas State in the western division.
Here is our story on the matter, which addresses the divisions, how the conversations came about for Idaho to join the conference and a little bit of the financial aspects of it.
If you scroll to the fourth item on the Sun Belt’s main website you can listen to the teleconference with commissioner Karl Benson on the additions he made to the conference.
The waves of conference re-alignment won’t stop rolling, and it’s unfortunate for those who were hoping for the Petrino v. Petrino brother face-off in coming years. Bobby Petrino and his Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are likely headed to Conference-USA. The Sun Belt would get back to 12 members with the addition of James Madison.
And finally, here is video of Idaho AD Rob Spear and for-now president M. Duane Nellis on Idaho’s entrance in to the Sun Belt.