At the end of the college football season, every team that earns six wins hopes for its chance to play in a bowl game. Not only does it bring your school money, it is that last game that can bring you glory or possibly humiliation.
Currently, there are 32 bowl games at the end of the regular season. Each conference has a certain number of tie-ins to these bowl games. Conferences like the SEC, ACC, and Big XII all have eight tie-ins, while smaller conferences like the MAC only have three.
The Sun Belt Conference is currently the lowest conference, with only one bowl tie-in. However, the Sun Belt has had more than one bowl eligible team. In 2005, both Troy and North Texas were bowl eligible, and in 2006, Troy and Middle Tennessee. In 2007, Florida Atlantic was the only Sun Belt team to play in a bowl game while another eligible team, Troy, sat on the sidelines.
I hope many people can agree with me that the Sun Belt is slowly moving its way up the ranks as far as being a competitive conference goes. In the past two years, the Sun Belt Champions have easily shown their dominance in the New Orleans Bowl.
Also, during the regular season, many Sun Belt teams have held their own or actually won games against bigger programs (e.g. Troy beating Oklahoma State and Florida Atlantic beating Minnesota in 2007).
Until the Sun Belt is given its proper dues and allotted another bowl game tie-in, all other conferences will see the SBC as a weaker and insignificant conference. Granted the SBC does not have near the talent and money as other conferences, but they have a lot more to play for—mainly respect.
So, I say to all those that read this—don't doubt the Sun Belt Conference. They have proven their resiliency time and time again, and I think it is time that they are given the proper respect they deserve.
If a team from the Sun Belt goes 8-4, and they play a respectable schedule, that should be given more weight over a team that went 6-5 but gets into a bowl because their conference needs to fill one of their tie-ins.