UMass has now defeated the Sun Belt’s lowest and highest ranked teams.
The Sun Belt is having a historically bad season and may need some kind of intervention.
The University of Massachusetts Minutemen, an FBS independent, are 2-6 on the season. That’s not good. But were they a member of the Sun Belt, the Minutemen would rank among the conference leaders.
In Week 8, UMass hosted the disaster that is Georgia Southern and trounced the Eagles 55-20. The defeat was so embarrassing, it ended head coach Tyson Summer’s season-and-a-half tenure at the university. After all, even Coastal Carolina, recently removed from the FCS and also a Sun Belt member, dispatched the Minutemen in Week 2. Even as bad as the Eagles are, to be defeated b 35 points by a program of such weak caliber is rightfully a fireable offense.
So when the Sun Belt’s most highly regarded program, Appalachian State, rolled into Foxboro, you’d have though Scott Satterfield and his Mountaineers would have arrived with a noble sense of duty – to avenge the Sun Belt and to restore dignity to the conference.
Nope! The Mountaineers (favored by 4.5), fell to the Minutemen in OT, 30-27. It was an ugly, defensive struggle, highlighted by 7 turnovers – the last an Appalachian State fumble in overtime that resulted in a UMass game winning field goal.
What does it say about the Sun Belt when its worst and (supposedly) its best teams are dispatched by an independent program whose only success comes at the expense of the Sun Belt?
Listen, the Sun Belt is rife with bad losses this year, including several FCS upsets. The conference’s best OOC victory, Troy’s win over a ranked LSU program, was mitigated immediately by an awful home loss to South Alabama. What should have been a shining evening for the conference – the christening of Georgia State’s shining new stadium – was rendered a dud with a Week 1 loss to Tennessee State. From Arkansas State’s abysmal performance against SMU to Idaho’s 4th quarter collapse to Western Michigan, the sun is setting rapidly on the Sun Belt.
But the Double-UMass Embarrassment is the most troubling for the conference. The Minutemen, who aren’t as terrible as the 2-6 record suggests, were supposed to be two solid road wins for the conference. Instead, the conference simply adds to the loss column and its collective embarrassment.
The Sun Belt needs an intervention. As concerned friends and family, it is our solemn duty to sit the SBC down and force it to admit the problem – that it’s really sucking at the football right now. The conference’s bottom three teams are 3-20. Three teams in the Sun Belt rank worse than William & Mary on the Sagarin Index. That same index ranks the Sun Belt the 20th best in the nation – beneath every FBS conference, plus a few FCS. This is a football conference in a football crises.
Hey, I don’t have answers. I just have complaints. But maybe this is an example of “awfulness with a purpose.” For years, Sun Belt teams that enjoyed even modest success bounced to new conferences. Perhaps the heat of bad football will meld the teams into a stronger conference? Maybe. Let’s go with that.
Meanwhile, welcome to the top of the Sun Belt mountain, UMass.
A former notary public, Jeremy Harper is a professional writer and Chief Instigator for Storm the Castle Creative. He spends much of his free time staring blankly into space.