University of Louisiana Lafayette Head Football Coach Michael Desormeaux discusses strategy and schemes for the upcoming season at the Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans, LA for the second media day of the Sun Belt Conference on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

by Pete Iacobelli, Associated Press

The Sun Belt Conference’s success the past few seasons to catch college football’s attention and league officials believe additional steps this offseason will keep that momentum going.

There are four new members, including Marshall, increasing the league to 14 teams. The league features one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NCAA back for another year in Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall and ex-Southern Cal coach Clay Helton will try and revive Georgia Southern’s usually powerful program.

And with the uncertainty in college football involving issues such as realignment, NIL and the transfer portal, “I’m absolutely sure of one thing,” Commissioner Keith Gill said this summer. “The Sun Belt is rising.”

If the resurgence continues again this year, the packed Sun Belt East Division, where Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina and newcomer Marshall should battle for the top spot.

Coach Billy Napier had Louisiana the cream of the West Division with last year’s league title, four division titles and three bowl wins since 2018. But Napier left to revive Florida, leaving his Rajun’ Cajun assistant — and former Louisiana quarterback — Michael Desormeaux to take over the program.

Desormeaux has had a front-row seat to Louisiana’s rise and is grateful for the chance to continue things “at a place, where going on seven years now where I’ve been able to be a part of building it,” he said. “It means everything to me.”

Depending how the season unfolds, Louisiana could finally have that league championship game matchup with Coastal Carolina that was called off in 2020 due to COVID-19 in the Chanticleers’ program.  Along with Marshall, the Sun Belt added James Madison, Old Dominion and Southern Miss.

Sun Belt Commissioner Keith Gill was signed to a contract extension through June 2030, a clear sign member presidents believe Gill’s the clear choice to navigate issues like expansion, name image and likeness and the transfer portal.

Louisiana will host top I-10 competitor South Alabama on October 1 while playing in Hattiesburg against Southern Miss October 27 at 6:30pm.

(Front Photo: NCAA Division I Sun Belt Conference Football Conference Championship Trophy on the first day of the media conference at the Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans on Tuesday, July 26, 2022. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)