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Sun Belt to add Idaho as football-only member in 2014

Idaho will indeed join the Sun Belt Conference for football, the second time the Vandals have ended up in a league geographically on the other side of the country.

Chris Graythen

Rumors that Idaho could join the growing Sun Belt Conference as soon as Thursday appear to be true, per various reports:

Although it seems somewhat crazy that Idaho, essentially on the other side of the country from the geographic Sun Belt, would join a conference named after that region, but its a move that makes sense -- and its not the first time the Vandals have been in the league.

More: Grading the Sun Belt's expansion | Martin Rickman on the Moon Belt Conference

After transitioning from FCS play to the FBS, Idaho played in the Sun Belt from 2000 to 2004. However, they filled a vacancy in the more geographically convenient WAC when Rice, SMU, and Tulsa left that conference in 2005. However, the WAC's time as a football league has come to an end, beginning with the departure of Boise State, continueing with Nevada leaving, and now with everybody scattering to leagues around the country. Left in the lurch were the Vandals, who were all set to play as an independent team -- fine for teams like Notre Dame, but not easy for a low-tier FBS team like Idaho.

The Vandals are transitioning to the Big Sky in most sports, but that doesn't sponsor FBS football. So while their non-revenue sports can stay close to home, they can avoid scheduling mix-ups and guarantee opponents for the gridiron squad, which works out perfectly.

With Georgia Southern and Appalachian State joining the fold and JMU a potential member, it was already known the non-BCS conference was adding a few squads from a lower tier of football. If the other shoe drops on New Mexico State, they'll also add several teams from the WAC.

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