Tommy Bowman of The Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal reports Appalachian State to the Sun Belt is a done deal, pending announcement on Wednesday.
Appalachian State will accept an invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference this week, probably on Wednesday, according to a source at ASU
— Tommy Bowman (@AppTrailWSJ) March 25, 2013
Meanwhile, Russell Varner of Southern Pigskin tweets fellow Southern Conference member Georgia Southern has a press conference scheduled for the same day.
And Georgia Southern reportedly has a press conference scheduled for Wednesday as well. Hmm, wonder what that could be about…
— Russell Varner (@rvarner) March 25, 2013
Georgia Southern and Appalachian State to the Sun Belt Conference continues a recent exodus of programs making the leap from Championship to Bowl Subdivision. Four universities — UMass, UT-San Antonio, South Alabama and Texas State — debuted in FBS this past season. Old Dominion joins Conference USA in 2013, and Georgia State moves to the Sun Belt
Interestingly, the recent moves made have come from schools new to football. South Alabama and Old Dominion both started their teams in 2009. Georgia State followed the next year. UTSA played just one season as a provisional member of the FCS before its one-year interlude in the Western Athletic Conference, and the Charlotte 49ers begin membership in C-USA with the 2015 season.
Appalachian State and Georgia Southern buck that trend, assuming each does move to the FBS. ASU has been the standard bearer for the subdivision in recent years, winning national championships in 2005, 2006 and 2007. The Mountaineers landed squarely on the national college football radar in 2007, defeating the then-No. 5 ranked Michigan Wolverines to open the season.
Georgia Southern was the face of Div. I-AA before Appalachian State, winning national championships under both the legendary Erk Russell and current Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson. Current Eagles head coach Jeff Monken led GSU to consecutive FCS Playoffs semifinals in 2011 and 2012, running the option offense that made the program famous in its heyday.
Coincidentally, Johnson’s coaching tree could fuel the replacement of Georgia Southern in the SoCon, should GSU depart. Kennesaw State announced on Monday the hiring of former Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern assistant Brian Bohannon as the program’s first head coach. KSU does not kickoff until the 2015 season, but its proximity to Atlanta makes it a logical choice for SoCon affiliation. The Owls are currently members of the non-football Atlantic Sun Conference.