James Madison’s move to FBS gives hope for SUU Football

In the world of college football, a lot of teams are starting to call new places home. Over the past season, several different teams decided to switch conferences to give their programs a chance to be more successful. On the NCAA Division I FBS level, some of these schools include Brigham Young University and the University of Cincinnati going to the Big 12 while Texas University and the University of Oklahoma will be making their way towards the SEC. 

These programs still have a few years until the official move but one team is making a jump from FCS to FBS directly after announcing the change: James Madison University Dukes. 

As old members of the Colonial Athletic Association, they announced they will join the Sun Belt Conference for football, thus having a chance to play in a bowl game. It is a huge step for the program but also is a blessing in disguise for FCS programs such as Southern Utah University.  

The Thunderbirds, like James Madison, will also be moving to another conference,becoming one of the newest members of Western Athletic Conference beginning July 1, and will give SUU a chance to start from the ground up with their football program. This move will also begin not only an in-state, but also conference rivalry with St. George’s Dixie State University. 

With a lot of tough competition as well from Texas schools Sam Houston State University and Lamar University, the WAC brings more skill that will improve the quality of the SUU football team. 

After a saddening 1-10 record last season, a lot of changes have been made to reboot SUU football. Along with the new conference, one big change is new head coach Delane Fitzgerald. Bringing in success from Frostburg State University, a DII program from Maryland, he has already started getting things ready to roll. 

“Coach Fitz is very intense, but we need it,” said lineback Dillon Smith. “As much as I love Demario and everything he did for us, it’s nice to get a fresh start.” 

Not only have coaching changes happened, new players have come in the mix. 

“I am super excited to be a part of this fresh start here at Southern Utah,” said newcomer Trevor Hobbs. “I love everything that Coach Fitz has implemented with us so far and can only imagine how far we will improve this season and in the future.”

Until SUU has the opportunity to jump up to the FBS classification, they do have a chance to succeed with this new start with the WAC in the FCS. Having a history of victories already with teams in this conference, it is a nice confidence boost going into the 2022 season.

Article by: Nate Coombs

Photos Courtesy of SUU Athletics