John Hartwell conversation notes: UAB, Sun Belt and A POLL!Published 9:16pm Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Here are some notes from my conversation with Troy AD John Hartwell on Tuesday. These are not necessary his words but the basis of our conversation. We talked about the Duke announcement and he is obviously excited to bring an ACC opponent to Veterans Memorial Stadium for the first time, so I’ll skip over that part.
I will mention that he was excited about a deal that is still in the works to bring an ACC opponent (not Duke) to Trojan Arena for men’s basketball in the future. The deal is still being ironed out and will hopefully be done soon.
On UAB series (expires in 2014) – Hartwell said the series is being looked at by the powers that be and if it continues past 2014 it could be on an every other year basis. Hartwell said it is obviously a great regional contest and both schools will sit down to see what option best serves both schools.
On possible series with Southern Miss – Talks are continuing but it appears the most recent conference shake ups have everyone on hold. Sun Belt schools have to especially weary of scheduling non-conference games as the league continues to shift.
On future of Sun Belt – Hartwell said the most obvious option for replacing FIU, FAU, North Texas and MTSU is to dig into the FCS talent pool. Georgia Southern and Appalachian State are the two most common names being thrown around. Hartwell did call them by name but did not say they whether they were serious candidates to join the conference. He did explain that if a team declares to join the SBC by June of 2013, current members who schedule those teams in 2014 can count them as conference games but the new schools would no the eligible to compete for championships until 2015.
On SBC expansion – Hartwell said (and Commissioner Karl Benson has been quoted saying the same thing) that the seven-game conference schedule in 2013 is a one-year thing. Obviously, Texas State and Georgia State will join the league this year and the goal of the SBC is to get back to 10 football-playing members by 2014. The league will only have eight members playing football in 2013 (Troy, ULL, ULM, W. Kentucky, Arkansas St, Texas St, Georgia St. and South Alabama)