Sun Belt Commissioner Wright Waters has been urging teams in his conference to wean themselves off money games, arguing that it hurts more than it helps.
And it appears that his message is sinking in, as many Sun Belt teams have cut back games they play for big paydays against teams from the major conferences.
“Athletic directors have done a really good job of being more realistic,” Waters said this week. “It used to be teams were playing three or four games they had no chance of winning.”
Florida Atlantic had cut down on money games, but this year is playing three due to a glitch in the scheduling.
“We want to be at two money games a year,” said Athletic Director Craig Angelos. “With the money some teams are willing to pay, we think that is doable.
In 2006, FAU got a total of $1.8 million for playing games at Clemson, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and South Carolina. In 2012 they will get nearly $2 million for two games – at Georgia and at Auburn.
With eight conference games, FAU has four non-conference games per season, and Angelos would like to fill two of those with teams from conferences like the MAC or Confernce-USA.
But this season FAU is at Florida, Michigan State and Auburn to start the season, and that likely means being 0-3, which will make reaching 6-6 and being bowl eligible that much tougher.
Most teams in the Sun Belt are playing at least two money games this season.
Here are the Sun Belt team’s non-conference schedules for this season (rankings are from AP preseason poll).
FAU: at No. 22 Florida, at No. 17 Michigan State, at No. 23 Auburn, UAB
Louisiana-Monroe: at No. 6 Florida State, Grambling, at No. 14 TCU, at Iowa
Middle Tennessee: at Purdue, Georgia Tech, Memphis, at Tennessee
Louisiana-Lafayette: at No. 9 Oklahoma State, at Kent State, Nicholls State, at Arizona.
Troy: at Clemson, at No. 15 Arkansas, UAB, at Navy
North Texas: Houston, at No. 1 Alabama, Indiana, at Tulsa
Western Kentucky: Kentucky (in Nashville), Navy, Indiana State, at No. 4 LSU
Arkansas State: at Illinois, Memphis, at No. 13 Virginia Tech, Central Arkansas
FIU: at Louisville, UCF, Duke, at Akron