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Wright Waters- Dont sleep on the SunBelt Nebraska!

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Wright Waters- Dont sleep on the SunBelt Nebraska!

Interesting article that I found on the Nebraska Page.

I wonder if He'll be going to the FAU game?


Don't Sleep On The Sun Belt | Husker Locker

Wright Waters hasn’t heard any of the jokes about Nebraska’s football team being an honorary member of the Sun Belt Conference in 2009. Hasn’t read critiques of NU’s decision to host three of the league’s programs – Florida Atlantic, Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette – in September.

“But I hope their players are reading those articles,” chuckled Waters, the Sun Belt’s commissioner since 1998. “I hope their coaches are reading them. I hope they’re overlooking all three of them. We’ll slip in there and play them as hard as we can.

“For our kids, going to somewhere like Nebraska is our World Series, Super Bowl, BCS Championship game. If (NU) is overlooking them, that’s all the better for us…if we go up there and win a couple games, those people criticizing it are going to look foolish.”

Waters isn’t issuing any kind of guarantee, other than he’ll be in attendance for one of those games in Lincoln. And he’s quick to mention he’s “appreciative” of the three shots NU is giving the Sun Belt. But he is also suggesting the Huskers be mindful of a league that’s developed a minor reputation over the last five years for scaring and slaying major conference opponents.

“Let’s play the games,” Waters said, “and then talk about quality.”

Entering its ninth year as a football league and its 34th year overall, the Sun Belt is comprised of nine teams that previously played in a variety of conferences and divisions. Some wandered the Independent wilderness.

Only one – Louisiana-Lafayette, former Southwestern Louisiana – has consistently been a Division I FBS program. Others, like North Texas, Middle Tennessee and Arkansas State – spent time in the former Division I-AA. Florida Atlantic and Florida International just started teams in the last decade. Western Kentucky is now “post-transition” as a league and Division I FBS member, having gone through the painful conversion to top-flight college football.

The infant years of Sun Belt football league were rough. North Texas coasted to four crowns, going 25-1 inside the conference, while losing, often quite badly, to teams non-league foes (65-0, 52-21 and 37-14 losses to Texas, Colorado and Baylor in 2004 come to mind). FIU was best known for a bench-clearing brawl at end of a loss to Miami. New Mexico State, Idaho and Utah State did little for the league’s profile other than become fodder for the Pac 10, and left after the 2005 season for the WAC, where they haven’t been any better.

“If I had it to do over again, I would go back to the first year of our league (2001) and say ‘All right, don’t play anyone you can’t beat,” Waters said. “If we had done that, people would have marveled at what a great league this was.”

It wasn’t until Troy beat No. 19 Missouri on ESPN in 2004, that “we were taken seriously,” Waters said.

And while Troy has had its share of clunkers, too – a 56-0 loss at Nebraska in 2006 – it’s helped the Sun Belt’s profile tremendously, beating Oklahoma State 41-23 on ESPN in 2007- that’s game behind the benching of OSU quarterback Bobby Reid, and Coach Mike Gundy’s “I’m a man! I’m 40!” rant – and taking Florida State, Georgia, LSU to the fourth quarters in other years. The Trojans staked a 31-3 lead on the Tigers in Baton Rouge – at night, no less – last year before collapsing in a 40-31 loss. Troy, along with Fla. Atlantic, are co-favorites for the Sun Belt this year.

Louisiana-Monroe joined the party by upsetting Alabama 21-14 in 2007. Florida Atlantic beat Minnesota, too. Last year, Middle Tennessee beat Maryland 24-14 and Arkansas State, one of NU’s opponents, sent Texas A&M into a spiral with a season-opening 18-14 win in College Station.

“Every year, there’s a sign that we’re getting better,” Waters said.

Waters said he’s finally seeing some of the acceptance that the Sun Belt’s had for years in college softball and baseball, where the league routinely sends two teams to the NCAA Tournament. Attendance at Sun Belt home games has doubled. The TV package is better. Players hailing from Sun Belt schools – most notably All-Pro linebacker DeMarcus Ware – are doing well in the NFL. And some major conferences are beginning to embrace the idea of home-and-home games with Sun Belt schools.

A debate within the league, Waters said, is whether the Sun Belt should continue to take major paydays from Big 12, Big Ten, SEC and ACC programs – the Pac 10 and Big East tend to pillage other leagues for lesser opponents – or try to set its sights on competing more directly with Conference USA, the WAC and the Mountain West.

The Sun Belt continues to court mid-level conference schools, while attempting to appeal to the recruiting interests of major conference schools.

To this end, Florida Atlantic and Florida International may prove, long-term, to be quite helpful.

“Minnesota went to (Florida Atlantic) two years ago,” Waters said. “For Minnesota, it was a recruiting trip to South Florida.”

It was also a loss for the Gophers.


“At the end of the day, this is college sports,” Waters said. “This is not selling widgets, we’re competing. You report the scores every day, so there’s nowhere to hide. The best way to improve the quality of your league is to win games.”

An upset by one of the Sun Belt Three would be another major boost to the league’s profile.

I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick @$$ and I'm out of bubble gum.

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Re: Wright Waters- Dont sleep on the SunBelt Nebraska!

Out of the three, i believe we have the best shot at an upset…

Neither ULL or ASU have the passing game needed to spread them out…and you cant run against NU at our level as a sole offensive reliance…
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Re: Wright Waters- Dont sleep on the SunBelt Nebraska!

I think the best shot FAU has at winning is if Nebraska overlooks them. I doubt that happens since this will be Nebraska's first game of the year. Teams always come out and play hard in the home opener with a lot of focus. Out of the three teams, ASU may be the only team that is overlooked. We will play Virginia Tech in the next game, so they would have the best opportunity to sneak up on us. Louisiana Lafayette won't be overlooked, because it will be our 300th consecutive sell out. That will be a huge game for the state of Nebraska.
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Re: Wright Waters- Dont sleep on the SunBelt Nebraska!

Cornhusker said

I think the best shot FAU has at winning is if Nebraska overlooks them. I doubt that happens since this will be Nebraska's first game of the year. Teams always come out and play hard in the home opener with a lot of focus. Out of the three teams, ASU may be the only team that is overlooked. We will play Virginia Tech in the next game, so they would have the best opportunity to sneak up on us. Louisiana Lafayette won't be overlooked, because it will be our 300th consecutive sell out. That will be a huge game for the state of Nebraska.

It wont be overlooking us that gets you beat, it will be losing the turnover battle.

Teambeer is the most knowledgeable FAU sports fan I know, way smarter than me.
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Re: Wright Waters- Dont sleep on the SunBelt Nebraska!

walty12 said

Cornhusker said

I think the best shot FAU has at winning is if Nebraska overlooks them. I doubt that happens since this will be Nebraska's first game of the year. Teams always come out and play hard in the home opener with a lot of focus. Out of the three teams, ASU may be the only team that is overlooked. We will play Virginia Tech in the next game, so they would have the best opportunity to sneak up on us. Louisiana Lafayette won't be overlooked, because it will be our 300th consecutive sell out. That will be a huge game for the state of Nebraska.

It wont be overlooking us that gets you beat, it will be losing the turnover battle.
Yeah that is possible, but NU went 9-4 last year and was 107th Nationally in TO Margin.  The team simply didn't cause the T/O's you would expect out of a Bo Pelini D, also made too many mistakes.  I think most NU fans expect a huge turn around in this category.  First because of Bo's track record in getting D's to take the ball away frequently, we saw it at record pace in 2003 when he was the DC.  A second year in Bo's system should result in more take aways.  The other factor will be a larger focus on the running game.  Indications are that NU will run the ball more this year, which should result in fewer give aways.  We shall see, your team is a decent team. 
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Re: Wright Waters- Dont sleep on the SunBelt Nebraska!

caveman99 said

walty12 said

Cornhusker said

I think the best shot FAU has at winning is if Nebraska overlooks them. I doubt that happens since this will be Nebraska's first game of the year. Teams always come out and play hard in the home opener with a lot of focus. Out of the three teams, ASU may be the only team that is overlooked. We will play Virginia Tech in the next game, so they would have the best opportunity to sneak up on us. Louisiana Lafayette won't be overlooked, because it will be our 300th consecutive sell out. That will be a huge game for the state of Nebraska.

It wont be overlooking us that gets you beat, it will be losing the turnover battle.
Yeah that is possible, but NU went 9-4 last year and was 107th Nationally in TO Margin.  The team simply didn't cause the T/O's you would expect out of a Bo Pelini D, also made too many mistakes.  I think most NU fans expect a huge turn around in this category.  First because of Bo's track record in getting D's to take the ball away frequently, we saw it at record pace in 2003 when he was the DC.  A second year in Bo's system should result in more take aways.  The other factor will be a larger focus on the running game.  Indications are that NU will run the ball more this year, which should result in fewer give aways.  We shall see, your team is a decent team.

I think my comment came across wrong.  What I meant to say is…the ONLY way FAU wins that game is if somehow we get some lucky bounces and win the turnover battle.  Will have to be some critical mistakes made by you guys…you know a tipped pass here that is intercepted, a fumble in your own redzone…things of that nature.  Hopefully we get some of those and at least make it interesting. 

Teambeer is the most knowledgeable FAU sports fan I know, way smarter than me.
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Re: Wright Waters- Dont sleep on the SunBelt Nebraska!

I think we got lucky in the scheduling process. It will be NU's first game with a new QB and NU doesn't really know what to expect from Sunbelt teams yet. I think Ark State and Loui-Laf will have it much harder than us.

"FAU is on a collision course with the national championship. The only variable is time."
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Re: Wright Waters- Dont sleep on the SunBelt Nebraska!

Does the Sunbelt Conference have some kind of unique style that no other conference has?

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Re: Wright Waters- Dont sleep on the SunBelt Nebraska!

Cornhusker said

Does the Sunbelt Conference have some kind of unique style that no other conference has?

Not sure if you are serious or not on this??

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Re: Wright Waters- Dont sleep on the SunBelt Nebraska!

He said that Nebraska wouldn't know what to expect from the Sun Belt Conference. I was hoping he could tell me what he meant.
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