Sun Belt gives App State a chance at high profile schedule
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
The Mountaineers officially joined the Sun Belt Tuesday after being a member of the Southern Conference since 1971. A feasibility committee was formed in 2010, and the decision to move to an FBS conference was made by the board of trustees in 2012.
In March of 2013, the Sun Belt offered Appalachian State a spot in its conference.
Appalachian State athletic director Charlie Cobb said that Mountaineers fans could be seeing some bigger programs visit Kidd Brewer Stadium in the future. Southern Mississippi, who visits Kidd Brewer in 2015, will be the first nonconference FBS program to play in Boone.
Cobb said talks are already underway to get an ACC team to visit Boone. Appalachian State could also play at team at a neutral site, such as Charlotte.
But FBS teams make out the majority of their football schedules years in advance, so Cobb said it make take a while before a team would come to Boone to play App State.
"One of the benefits that we are going to see, and I'm extremely optimistic about the fact, I've been really pleased at the opportunities from a scheduling standpoint of playing teams in the state," Cobb said. "It's going to take a little bit of time -- it's going to take several years. But we've got opportunities for games and opportunities with teams in the region that we haven't had before. Once that materializes, I think any question of this was the right move for Appalachian, we can answer very easily with how we handle our scheduling."
Appalachian State has scheduled a Division I-A team or an FBS team in every year since 1972, except for 2012 and in 1978. The Mountaineers' last win over an FBS team was their 34-32 upset over Michigan in 2007.
Appalachian State has never played a Division I-A or an FBS team at home. The Mountaineers' first home FBS game is Oct. 4 against South Alabama.
Cobb said bringing an ACC team to Boone would not require a stadium expansion. Kidd Brewer Stadium holds 24,050, but because of the general admission seating along the grass in the south end zone, crowds have swelled to more than 30,000 in a few games.
Cobb also said Appalachian State won't completely ignore its former opponents from the Southern Conference. There won't be as many games on the schedule with SoCon teams as in the past, but they are likely to play a SoCon game in the future.
"We're going to play all of the Southern Conference schools in a lot of sports," he said. "We've got a scheduling model in football were we want to play one power conference game. We want to have home-and-homes with like institutions and we want to have one FCS game. There are school around here who we want to play games against. We've kind of been noncommittal until we can get an idea of where things are."
As for the 2014 schedule, Appalachian State hosts six home games, including Campbell (Sept. 6), South Alabama (Oct. 4), Liberty (Oct. 11), Georgia State (Nov. 1), Louisiana-Monroe (Nov. 8) and Idaho (Nov. 29). Liberty is the only program that has played at Kidd Brewer Stadium out of all the home games.