by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/AP Member –

Sincere recognition and applause should be given to the Sun Belt Conference and Commissioner Keith Gill for their professional media day hosted at the Sheraton in New Orleans this week.

Addressing the audience, Gill spoke of the strength for this NCAA Conference; not only for football, but for other sports and signified one point of view that has been lost by everyone in these times:  Regional Rivalries.

The commissioner expressed how this conference expanded to adding four different teams; not for the sole purpose of expansion in national attention, but because of the close proximity these schools have within each other and the rich tradition in these institutions.

Due to the United States Supreme Court action in college athletics a few years ago, Name-Image-Likeness (NIL) has become big with college choices in all sports and Gill did not run away from it.  In fact, the commissioner moved towards acceptance of using this new platform in the conference and helping student-athletes instead of hurting them.

In a new football contract with ESPN, the Sun Belt Conference pledged to use this agreement to give exposure to these regional rivalries; which may be one of the best business decisions ever implemented in college football.

College football has become a game of regions and down south holds the highest regard.

These regional rivalries will help bring in their attendance, television views, and social media discussions like you’ve never seen before.

As the University of Louisiana-Monroe Head Football Coach Terry Bowden; a legend of the college football community, told me this past week that family rivalries are what keep athletes healthy.  Coming from a family of giants in the college football world, acknowledging that college athletics are on the way up is rewarding for those who favor the pure to the professional.

Despite gambling, professional agents, and NIL dominating all college athletics, the historical tradition of regional rivalries will help the success for all institutions and the Sun Belt Conference could be seen as a catalyst.