The Norman Transcript

National Sports

July 28, 2013

South Alabama joins FBS club in football-crazy state

MOBILE, Ala. — South Alabama’s fast track from no program to college football’s top division has helped boost revenues, name recognition and perhaps even enrollment in a state where the sport is king.

Now, the Jaguars are hoping that joining the other four Football Bowl Subdivision teams in football-crazy Alabama will bring bowl berths and championships to the port city. Less than six years after deciding to add football, South Alabama is entering its first season as a full member of the revamped Sun Belt Conference.

“Football has, in my humble opinion, shed a whole different shade of color and of perception of who we are,” athletic director Joel Erdmann said. “We have a great university. We always have. We have a great athletic program, and we always have. But the addition of football has just framed it and provided that little extra jolt, that I think if you step back and look at those qualitative things that are hard to put numbers on — school spirit and school pride and how we’re perceived by the public and how we’re perceived nationally — I think it’s been enhanced.

“I think we’re at a whole different level.”

In 2007, when trustees approved the creation of a football program that debuted in 2009, South Alabama’s athletics program had operating revenues of $9.03 million. The fiscal year ending last fall saw revenues leap to $17.7 million with football breaking even, according to documents posted on the U.S. Department of Education website.

Higher student fees have paid a portion of the bill.

Enrollment has climbed about 1,000 to 15,000 students since fall 2007, university spokeswoman Jennifer Eckman said.

“We definitely think (football’s) been a factor among many other factors,” she said.

The money remains small change for the Southeastern Conference’s Auburn and Alabama, each several hours away but casting a long shadow. Emphasizing the gap, during South Alabama’s four seasons of football, the century-old programs combined for all four national titles. The state’s football schools also include five-time Sun Belt champion Troy and Conference USA’s UAB.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • Smoke turns corner at Indy

    INDIANAPOLIS — Drivers always say there’s something magical about Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the opportunity for NASCAR to race there opened the door for one of Jeff Gordon’s most treasured victories. It was a race Tony Stewart ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Roma tops Liverpool

    BOSTON — Marco Borriello scored in the 90th minute to give Roma a 1-0 victory over Liverpool in a preseason friendly Wednesday night at Fenway Park. There were limited chances until Borriello volleyed in a corner from in front of goal....

    July 24, 2014

  • Marcus Mariota helps Oregon’s PAC-12 title chance in preseason polls

    LOS ANGELES — Although Marcus Mariota knew he would be under a spotlight when he stepped onto the famed Paramount Studios lot Wednesday, the Oregon quarterback is getting quite comfortable in his starring role....

    July 24, 2014

  • Majka wins 16th stage, Nibali leads

    PLA D’ADET, France — On the last of four Pyrenees ascents, Rafal Majka winked at a French TV camera and tugged playfully at a motorcycle’s antenna....

    July 24, 2014

  • Aggie’s QB Chuckie Keeton talk dominates Mountain West media day

    LAS VEGAS — Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton got his junior season off to a superb start, only to have it derailed by a knee injury in Game 6....

    July 24, 2014

  • Heavily favored U.S. group faces off against world’s best female golfers

    OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The inaugural International Crown is unique for what it isn’t. Thirty-two elite players from eight countries will compete at Caves Valley Golf Club to determine which nation has the best women’s players in the world. ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Weir, DeLaet attempt to end 60-year Open drought

    MONTREAL — Mike Weir was well aware that it has been 60 years since a Canadian won the Canadian Open....

    July 24, 2014

  • Pyrenees help leader Nibali, winner Rogers in Stage 16

    BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, France — The Pyrenees on Tuesday lived up to their reputation for causing ups and downs at the Tour de France: A French rider climbed in the standings, an American went down, and an Australian rebounding from an ordeal ...

    July 23, 2014

  • Mountain stage rough on Yankee rider

    BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, France — The Tour de France entered the Pyrenees on Tuesday for the first of three mountain stages that may well determine the final podium of this year’s race....

    July 23, 2014

  • Strong prefers not talking about a national title

    DALLAS — Charlie Strong riled up plenty of Texas fans during a statewide spring tour by saying the Longhorns wouldn’t be in the national championship game....

    July 23, 2014