Appalachian State confirms talks with Conference USA

If Appalachian State is headed for the Sun Belt Conference, athletic director Charlie Cobb doesn't know about it.

Cobb sent out a message to fans via Appalachian State's athletic website saying the Mountaineers, who are currently in the FCS, are in talks with Conference USA and have been for the past year.

That dispels the rumor that the Sun Belt Conference was considering adding Appalachian State and New Mexico State. Well, the Sun Belt could be considering Appalachian State, but its clear from the not the Mountaineers aren't considering the conference back.

That leaves the Sun Belt with two potential holes to fill for football-playing schools if it wants to play in divisions and have a championship game. Of course, New Mexico State and Idaho, the two remaining football-playing teams in the WAC, are hoping to be those two teams, though Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson told the Las Cruces Sun on Monday evening that the addition of New Mexico State "has not even been discussed" and that expansion west of Texas was still up in the air. Benson said more expansion probably wouldn't be discussed until the league meetings on May 22.

If — and it's a big if — New Mexico State and Idaho end up in the Sun Belt, it might be as football-only participants. That would actually might allow the WAC to remain together as an Olympic sport conference.

As for Appalachian State, Cobb said the school has a lot working in its favor right now, including the fact that their attendance last year would have ranked second in the Sun Belt and fifth in Conference USA, but the fact that it's not near a major city - it's in Boone, N.C. - hurts its expansion hopes.

"Conference realignment is not a sprint and remains very fluid," Cobb wrote. "Additional realignment is inevitable and I can assure you that as the carousel continues to spin, we will continue our efforts to explore and pursue options. It is our hope that with this wave of expansion and the reality of actual competition still several years away, conferences will start to look at the core value of geographic rivalries (specifically competitive success, the accessibility and affordability for teams and fans to travel, ticket sales, actual television and internet viewers, regional marketing partnerships and other fan-based revenue streams) as an important component to complete their membership."

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