Welcome Back, Sun Belt Tuesday


Sun Belt Tuesday is back, and not a moment too soon. The mid-October tradition of the midweek kicks off tonight with Texas State hosting Louisiana-Lafayette on ESPN2.

Sun Belt Tuesday may have flown under your radar. That’s understandable; Sun Belt Tuesday has yet to make the splash its Group of Five counterpart the Mid-American Conference has with MACtion.

MACtion, the moniker given to the conference’s yearly midweek games each November, entered into the college football lexicon thanks to a number of wildly entertaining games in recent years.

Sun Belt Tuesday has yet to match MACtion’s level of unpredictability or excitement. The last SBT game decided by single digits came on Oct. 16, 2012, with a decidedly un-MACtion-like final of North Texas 30, ULL 23.

No, SBT isn’t worth your time because it promises frenetic paces and basketball scores. It also doesn’t exist from the jaded philosophy that gave berth to the NFL’s truly awful Thursday Night Football, which is throwing a football game on at any time will attract eyeballs, ergo revenue.

While Sun Belt Tuesday does exist to attract attention, it’s more an invention of necessity than a shameless cash grab.

The Sun Belt rarely commands national attention. The conference’s place in the college football landscape has long existed as early September, and occasionally late November punching bag to the nearby SEC.

Sun Belt Conference games reside in obscurity, the result of the league occupying the very bottom rung on the Football Bowl Subdivision ladder.

But to dismiss the SBC, and by extension SBT, would be to miss out on great story lines.

For example, viewers of Sun Belt Tuesdays in recent years were exposed to the future of the SEC. In 2011, Hugh Freeze was applying the same principles at Arkansas State that have made Ole Miss a national championship contender.

In 2012, Freeze’s successor in Jonesboro, Gus Malzahn, won the Sun Belt championship. His path to the league crown included a Sun Belt Tuesday beatdown of Louisiana-Lafayette–and that game included one of my personal favorite calls by Joe Tessitore.

This year’s edition of Sun Belt Tuesday features another potential up-and-comer in the coaching ranks, ULL’s Mark Hudspeth.

Hudspeth is a savvy offensive mind with an intense personality that could play well at a bigger program. Of course, operating in the SBC has suited Hudspeth just fine thus far into his coaching career–he’s led the Ragin’ Cajuns to three straight New Orleans Bowl victories, which account for all the bowl-game wins in ULL history.

You couldn’t exactly call the coach on the other sideline Tuesday a young, up-and-comer. Dennis Franchione made stops at Alabama and Texas A&M, and Texas State is likely final stop before retirement.

In that sense, Franchione is comparable to another Sun Belt Tuesday alum, Howard Schnellenberger. But Texas State is new to the FBS scene, in just its third season since moving up from the Southland Conference of FCS.

Texas State calls San Marcos home, and San Marcos is one of the America’s fast-growing cities. That bodes well for the long-term potential of the Texas State football program.

The Bobcats can capitalize on their local population boom and proximity to talent-rich recruiting pipelines with wins on national TV. They’ve been afforded few, thus scoring one on Sun Belt Tuesday under an unfettered spotlight could do wonders for the program’s profile.

So block out a couple hours Tuesday for the Sun Belt. You might be watching football’s future unfold in real-time. And hey, it beats seeing players on short rest endangered in four-touchdown snoozers.