The Sun Belt closed a firm deal for a second bowl game for the next four seasons. They will send a team to the GMAC Bowl, played at Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.
Many have suggested this deal was inevitable. Ladd Peebles hosts the University of Southern Alabama football team, which recently added a football program. They will become the 10th football-playing member of the Sun Belt, eligible to win a bowl game or a conference title in 2013.
This year, a deal was worked out with the New Orleans Bowl to allow the Sun Belt Champion Troy Trojans to play in the GMAC Bowl instead of the New Orleans Bowl. Sun Belt runner-up Middle Tennessee State played in the New Orleans Bowl instead.
The GMAC pays $750,000 per team and the New Orleans Bowl pays $325,000 per team.
Per the GMAC Bowl site, "The four year partnership with the GMAC Bowl will call for the MAC to provide its No. 1 selection in 2011 and 2013 and its No. 2 selection in 2010 and 2012 after the Bowl Championship Series. A Sun Belt team will represent the league in the game following the 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 regular seasons and the GMAC Bowl will have first or second selection after the Bowl Championship Series and the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl."
The deal is a good one for the Sun Belt, as it injects more money into the conference, but could have some negative ramifications.
Troy dominates the Sun Belt on the field and in recruiting. For the forseeable future they are the likely favorites to win the Sun Belt. They are a much better draw for the GMAC Bowl due to proximity than the New Orleans Bowl.
Effectively, fans can pencil them in for the GMAC Bowl.
The second slot certainly helps the second team in the Sun Belt, which ordinarily doesn't go to a bowl game.
The problem is having Troy match up against the MAC champion, instead of a borderline dreg CUSA team, could push Troy into the top 25 for the next two years. (If Troy wins...as this year's GMAC Bowl proved, that is not a given.)
If Troy should win, that would increase the attractiveness of Troy to CUSA in the instance a few slots become available after the next big multi-conference realignment (probably 2011-2013).
That said, today this is a very good deal for the Sun Belt.