We are under two weeks away from kick off of the 2017 season! As such, it’s about time to get the traditional “Around the Funbelt” series crankin’ again, where we take a look at some of the interesting and notable things happening for the members of the ‘Belt. So without further adieu…
Louisiana (…at Lafayette): The Uncertain Future of the Cajuns Mascot
It’s already been a couple of seasons now since Cayenne, the ragin pepper mascot of the Cajuns, suddenly and quietly went MIA. While he’s been a popular main-stay in many online mascot articles and votes, it’s been a little bit more divided where it really should matter–Lafayette. Tim Buckley of ‘The Daily Advertiser’ recently wrote an article providing an update on the University’s status with their mascot controversy…specifically lack of one. The quick answer? There won’t be any immediate movements let alone announcements anytime soon, with a member of a newly formed mascot committee telling Buckley it would be an estimated “12 to 24 months” before they believe any real decision will be made. It’ll certainly be interesting to see what the athletic department ultimately decides to do (personally I hope they bring back the ‘Fabulous Cajun Chicken’, if only for me to laugh my keister off).
Troy/Coastal Carolina Football Projects: Seemingly Coming Along Better Than South Al’s!
Perhaps the two biggest construction projects going along in conference currently would be the Chants’ expansion of the Brooks’ Stadium and the Trojans construction of their new north endzone football complex. Coastal officials have been pretty solid with constant updates on their expansion, as we can see from a video they shared on their official twitter account a few days ago (here’s the link to check it out!)
However, if you truly want the full on, Chanticleer preview…
As for the men of Troy, it’s been a little bit more difficult to find up to latest updates on their endzone facility, but thanks to TroyFans.com, I was able to dig up some construction pictures which were posted back on July 27th. Now, I’m no Bob the Builder, but it would certainly appear everything is on track for everything to be completed and ready to show off come that home game against Boise State next season! As for our friends in Mobile, not much news about the status or future of their practice facility (which you recall suddenly collapsed as a strong thunderstorm rolled through the area about a month and a half ago (here’s a picture gallery of the aftermath from AL.COM). A poster on the message board site Jags Jungle had stated back on the 29th of July the pile of rubble still remained, with UPD still posted to ensure no one got near the site. Now what has been moving right along for USA construction wise has been the renovation of the “Luis Gonzalez Indoor Hitting Facility (which is being completely gutted and practically rebuilt from the ground up, both inside and outside of the building!)
New Mexico State: Thirsty Anyone?
It seems to be an incredibly growing trend throughout the college landscape for teams to have adult beverages dedicated towards various athletic departments and now you can add New Mexico State to that list! The Las Cruces Sun News was on hand this past week at the unveiling of the new ‘Pistol Pete’s 88 Ale. Per the article posted on LCSN.com, “The move is aimed at raising NMSU’s profile and generating more revenue” for the university. It will be made available for the first Aggie home game of the season, and eventually will be sold all throughout the great state of New Mexico! (BONUS: The Cajuns have a brew of their own as well–“Genuine Louisiana Ale”).
ULM/Texas State: New Swag for 2017
First off, the Warhawks new threads for 2017….
Now the Bobcats turn…
For the Warhawks, the P-40 unis aren’t necessarily new, as they first busted those bad boys our back in 2015. But the other set–dedicated throwbacks to the 1987 National Championship squad–is completely new and will also be sporting the new University logo! As for Texas State, this is what TexasHSFootball.com (which also covers college football throughout the state) had to say about the ‘Cats new look: “The gear upgrades now arguably places Texas State near, if not at the very top of the Sun Belt Conference’s top uniforms.”
Speaking of new digs…
The Stadium Formerly Known as ‘Turner Field’ Is Reality
After what seemed like years of speculation and conjure, kinda crazy that the Panthers actually pulled it off. But there it is–the Parker H. Petit Field at Georgia State Stadium is getting the finishing touches put on prior to it’s inaugural football hosting debut on August 31st when Georgia State hosts Tennessee State of the Ohio Valley Conference. While initial pictures and videos certainly boast an impressive facility, some of the Panther faithful that attended the “FanFest” yesterday evening were quick to point out some immediate flaws the facility still has, ranging from the A/C not working in the lodge seating area and certain bathroom facilities inoperable, to the ribbon and video boards malfunctioning at times. Most sound like trivial problems that will be addressed prior to kickoff.
Idaho Vandals: No Shirt? No Open Container Rules? NO PROBLEM!
For those Vandal faithful that might’ve been hesitant to crack open that adult beverage and fear facing a citation—YOUR WORRIES ARE LONG GONE!! Per the Lewiston Tribune, the Moscow City Council voted back on August 9th to amend city code and allow the consumption of alcohol at and around the Kibbie Dome tailgating spots. BUT, be sure to bring with you (and I quote)…”opaque paper or plastic container that is not labeled or branded by an alcohol manufacturer or distributor.” While the natural reaction is to shake a brewsky up and give everyone around you a beer shower, it seems there are still some hurdles to be ironed out (as UI Administrators have gone on record to say they will continue to support anti alcohol policy on the campus and the Moscow Police commenting they will “enforce state and city law–not University policy.” (**NOTE: THE ACTUAL STORY LINK FROM WHICH THIS AWESOME BLURB IS BASED ON, CAN BE FOUND HERE BUT REQUIRES PAID SUBSCRIPTION IN ORDER TO READ THE FULL CONTENTS.)
Appalachian State: MINE’S BIGGER..NO WAIT NEVER MIND ITS NOT. BUT ITS STILL AWESOME!!
As you can see from Senior Associate Athletic Director for Appalachian State Brain Tracy’s tweet (…whew! mouthful), The contractors are putting the finishing touches on the Mountaineers brand spankin’ new video board inside Kidd-Brewer Stadium. Per their press release back from earlier this year, “The board in Kidd Brewer Stadium will measure 50 feet high by 90 feet wide for the overall scoreboard with the new LED display will measuring more than 37 feet high by 67 feet wide.” You’ll notice the title of my blurb and might be scratching your head because while the ‘Neers were originally slated to have the largest board among the G5, the Panthers decided to one up them and now has currently taken the title for largest video board in the G5 (their’s measuring at 71 feet high by 99 feet wide and boasting 5 MILLION LEDs compared to Apps measly 2 million). Regardless, the new jumbotron along with the ribbon boards being installed as well will certainly add to the already magnificent facility that is Kidd-Brewer Stadium.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN: Freedom (and GUS too) For All
In one of our more unique stories around the #FUNBELT this week, Georgia Southern athletics announced it was completely overhauling its web video service and moving towards a new model, one that would not only feature a “variety of home games from across all sports” but will also broadcast both completely new content as well as still maintaining fan favorites–and they will no longer charge subscription fees and make it free for all to view. Me personally, I think this is an absolutely awesome idea as it not only helps to get some of your less popular teams broadcast recognition but to really become active with local businesses to become sponsors as this to me is truly a “Statesboro Entity.”
ARKANSAS STATE: RED WOLVES ‘D’ WITHOUT DEE LINER
Finally to conclude our first edition of “Around the #FUNBELT”, The Red Wolves Defense nearly took a huge hit–and not in an awesome tackle way. Earlier in the week, dynamic defensive tackle Dee Liner was injured during a non-contact portion of practice and was carted off the field. A day later, the head man Blake Anderson hopped onto local Jonesboro radio to share the prognosis…
Any Red Wolf fan will remember the last super star Astate player to go down to a groin injury–Lightnin Fredi Knighten. Knighten went down with the injury during the second half of the Missouri game back on September 12th 2015, and wouldn’t appear back in action again until a month later on October 13th at South Alabama. We’ll have to wait to see how Liner progresses with his recovery, but it certainly seems like an almost foregone conclusion he won’t be dressed out for that September 2nd date against the Cornhuskers (I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see DL back in action again until the SMU game at the earliest on September 23rd).