Is Solar Belt soccer underrated? Rank open Group of 5 teaching jobs? G5 drive

Championship week is right here and the teaching carousel is in full swing. Let’s reply some Group of 5 questions earlier than moving into the sport picks.

What does the Solar Belt have to do to get extra love? troy, South Alabama, Coastal Carolina different JamesMadison have all been superb this yr — and but they’ve hardly ever been talked about. Is the center and backside of the convention simply too weak? — Mantra D

assume again to Solar Belt Saturday in Septemberwhen App State beat Texas A&M, Marshall beat Notre-Dame different Georgia Southern beat Nebraska. It felt just like the convention had arrived as the highest group of 5 soccer league.

However then a bizarre factor occurred. App State misplaced some video games and completed 6-6, Marshall misplaced to bowling inexperienced and Georgia Southern completed 6-6. The groups that rose to the highest on the finish lacked these Energy 5 wins to hold their hat on. Had App State, Marshall or Georgia Southern gone 10-2, they’d positively have a High 25 rating proper now.

The convention is deep, little question. However Troy misplaced to Ole miss and South Alabama (barely) misplaced to UCLA. The league beat up on itself, and it is not but on the level the place beating itself counts as high quality wins. Tulane different UCF beating cincinnati issues as a result of Cincinnati has made the CFP. UCF has made a number of New Yr’s Six bowls. There’s cachet with that.

I personally imagine Troy and South Alabama are superb groups. I’ve Troy in my high 25 in The Athletic 131. However when surprising groups end atop a convention, it takes folks some time to catch up.


Troy is 10-2 and ranks No. 8 in scoring protection. (Danny Wild / USA At the moment)

Chris, how would you rank the open G5 jobs? — Louis S.

It is a shifting goal, each as different jobs open and because the searches play out. Issues change. However this is how I would rank them proper now:

1. Liberty
2. USF
3. FAU
4. UNLV
5. Western Michigan
6. Tulsa
7. Texas State

Liberty pays a ton of cash and has top-tier services. Hugh Freeze obtained that program into the High 25 twice and turned that into the Auburn job. All the things else that comes with that job may be polarizing or troublesome, however it has every little thing in place to win on the sphere. USF can even pay a great quantity and is lastly catching up in services, and it is after all in Florida. FAU is comparable however a step down in all of these elements.

UNLV has barely gained something over the previous two-plus a long time, however it has a brand new soccer constructing and Vegas is rising. The potential at that job ought to be increased. Western Michigan additionally has excessive expectations, particularly after it reached a Cotton Bowl with PJ Fleck. It has good sources relative to the MAC, however any MAC job is hard lately. Tulsa different Texas State are very shut, however Tulsa has a monitor document of some profitable, whereas Texas State has by no means made a bowl as an FBS crew.

App State started the yr by taking a ranked UNC crew to the wire, then beat Texas A&M in a somewhat statistically dominating trend. Then issues kind of … fell aside. That is App State’s worst convention document in 37 years, and they’ll miss out on a bowl sport regardless of having six wins (two are towards FCS groups). What are the prospects of change occurring in Boone to right this uncharacteristically lackluster season? — Matt D

Head coach Shawn Clark advised me final offseason that he felt the stress from followers simply because he did not win the Solar Belt final yr. That is ratcheted up so much after this 6-6 season with out bowl eligibility.

The change has already begun, with defensive coordinator Dale Jones leaving this system after spending 26 of the previous 27 years on workers. I would not be shocked if extra workers adjustments come. Clark needs an opportunity to show it round.

This App State crew had one of the vital weird seasons in current reminiscence. It scored 40 factors within the fourth quarter towards North Carolina, beat Texas A&M, hosted “Faculty GameDay,” beat Troy on a Hail Mary, blew a 28-3 lead towards James Madison, misplaced to Texas State and misplaced in double-overtime towards Georgia Southern with a bowl bid on the road. A decade’s value of excellent and dangerous moments in a single yr.

What the hell is WMU doing? So, why does not Chris Creighton get extra traction for job openings? I am not complaining. As an EMU fan I need to construct a statue of the man. However nonetheless? — Dan T

I do know some of us have been shocked by Western Michigan firing Tim Lester, however I wasn’t. Lester did a wonderfully high-quality job, with only one shedding season and three bowl video games. However he did not get to the MAC championship sport and let the division slip away late within the season a number of occasions. It is comprehensible that athletic director Dan Bartholomae has increased expectations, on condition that WMU is likely one of the better-resourced groups within the MAC. Since WMU final made the MAC title sport in 2016, 9 different MAC colleges have reached the sport. It is on Bartholomae to discover a higher coach and attain these increased expectations now. the search proper now is targeted on some coordinators, however Michigan assistants like Sherrone Moore, Jay Harbaugh and Mike Hart may get within the combine.


Western Michigan fired Tim Lester after a 5-7 season. (Kimberly Moss / USA At the moment)

What holds Creighton again, pretty or not, is that his total document at EMU is 45-61, and he hadn’t gained greater than seven video games with the Eagles till an 8-4 season this yr. Now, I perceive the context to all this, particularly as somebody who grew up in southeast Michigan. This system was most likely the worst within the FBS when he arrived, and the eight wins this yr are this system’s most since 1987. To convey constant profitable to this place is unimaginable. However these top-line numbers is usually a laborious promote to boosters and directors. A coach wants an enormous season that pops. His finest shot at a much bigger job might be one which wants an actual rebuild.

May JMU’s expertise and outcomes trigger the NCAA to rethink their archaic bowl place for brand new FBS packages? Not for this yr, however maybe beginning subsequent yr? — Mark N

nope I do know I’ve answered this just a few occasions, however it retains getting requested. The aim of the transition rule is to stop simply anybody from shifting up a classification. Mainly, there must be a value paid. You would possibly bear in mind Bellarmine gained the ASUN Match in males’s basketball final season however wasn’t allowed within the NCAA Match as a reclassifying faculty up from Division II. In July, the Division I board of administrators denied waiver requests to shorten that point.

JMU plans to petition the NCAA to decrease its FCS-FBS transition from two years to at least one, citing the sources in play. That is perhaps extra potential. And as Coastal Carolina head coach Jamey Chadwell famous this week, irking JMU of us, the existence of the portal and further scholarships made that transition a bit of simpler. And do not forget Georgia Southern went 8-0 in its first Solar Belt season however nonetheless did not get a bowl sport. I do not see it altering.

With Hugh Freeze leaving for Auburn after getting an extension at Liberty, can we put to mattress the “he simply obtained an extension” reasoning a coach will not depart for one more job? — Riyadh Ok.

All of it will depend on the buyout. When Freeze signed the extension, I made certain to notice that it was a considerable buyout, however one which could not hold everybody away.

That is completely different than, say, UTSA‘s Jeff Traylor, whose buyout after his extension final yr began at $7.5 million. That is excessive sufficient to maintain main colleges away for just a few years till it decreases. Much like NFL contract information the place the assured cash is definitely what issues most, the important thing element in teaching extensions is the buyout.

When do you assume we are able to do away with the made-up G5 time period? — Benjamin P

In 2024. With the Rose Bowl deal and now seemingly CFP enlargement coming in 2024, that is when the time period will technically don’t have any extra which means. A few of us within the media could keep it up or select one thing else, however Group of 5 does have a selected definition for now, till 2024.

Energy rankings

1. Tulane (10-2)
2.UTSA (10-2)
3 Troy (10-2)
4.UCF (9-3)
5. Boise State (9-3)
6. Coastal Carolina (9-2)
7. Cincinnati (9-3)
8. South Alabama (10-2)
9. Air Drive (9-3)
10.James Madison (8-3)

Simply missed: Liberty, BYU, Western Kentucky, SMUOhio

Championship sport predictions

American: No. 22 UCF at No. 18 Tulans (-4)
4pm ET Saturday, ABC
Choose: UCF

C-USA: North Texas at UTSA (-8.5)
7:30pm ET Friday, CBSSN
Choose: UTSA

MAC: Toledo (-1.5) vs. Ohio
Midday ET Saturday, ESPN
Choose: Ohio

Mountain West: Fresno State at Boise State (-3)
4pm ET Saturday, Fox
Choose: Boise State

Solar Belt: Coastal Carolina at Troy (-7.5)
3:30pm ET Saturday, ESPN
Choose: Troy

(High picture: Eakin Howard / Getty Photographs)

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