App State Comes with Credibility
By BJ Bennett
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In addition to a powerful program, the Sun Belt has added one of college football's most passionate fan bases.
As an official member of the Sun Belt Conference, Appalachian State brings a winning culture to a revamped league looking for long-term stability. The Mountaineers have had just one losing season, coming this past year, since 1985. In that span, Appalachian State has claimed three national championships and a dozen league crowns. Those feats, coupled with the famed 2007 triumph at Michigan, have made the Mountaineers a nationally-recognizable brand.
Names like Dexter Coakley, Armanti Edwards and Jerry Moore help form a backbone as strong as the ridge-line in western North Carolina. Moore, with Edwards and previously Richie Williams at quarterback, led Appalachian State to a rare national title three-peat from 2005-2007. With 215 wins in 24 seasons, Moore was recently selected for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.
In addition to a powerful program, the Sun Belt has added one of college football's most passionate fan bases. The Mountaineers led the FCS ranks in attendance in six of the last seven years. Kidd Brewer Stadium, which has undergone recent expansions and upgrades, is one of the most picturesque venues in the country. Appalachian State has won nearly 75% of the time there, compiling a 225-73-5 record.
The Mountaineers move forward having ranked in the national 115 in the Sagarin Rankings, measuring all of NCAA Division I football, FCS and FBS, seven of the past nine seasons.
Appalachian State enters a league featuring the likes of Arkansas State and Louisiana and makes the transition with rival Georgia Southern. In 27 meetings with the Eagles, the Mountaineers boast a 15-11-1 margin all-time. Since 2008, Appalachian State has won five times in the annual tilt. Last year's 38-14 triumph for the Mountaineers was their second-largest margin of victory since 1939.
Even without the attention and fanfare of a half-decade ago, Appalachian State adds a major brand to a conference shaping its own.