NEW ORLEANS, LA (KAIT/SBC) - With the finalization of the 2013 bowl bids that saw just two Sun Belt Conference teams gain bowl berths despite several other teams being bowl eligible, including an 8-4 Western Kentucky team, Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson issued the following the statement:
The 2013 regular season was the most competitive in the 13-year history of the Sun Belt – we had seven teams with records strong enough to qualify for bowls, the best ever non-conference win record, and a 6-1 record against our peer conferences – Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference and the Mountain West Conference.
When it was all over, UL-Lafayette and Arkansas State emerged as the league's co-champions with the Cajuns accepting a bid to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and Arkansas State being selected by the Sun Belt's second primary bowl, the GoDaddy Bowl.
The seven Sun Belt bowl eligible teams breaks the league's previous record of five teams set last year and of all the other nine FBS conferences, the Sun Belt had the highest percentage of teams reach the bowl eligible mark – a tremendous achievement for the conference.
With seven bowl eligible teams from the Sun Belt along with a number of teams from other conferences in the at-large pool, we have known for several weeks that it was going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to place all of the bowl eligible teams from the Sun Belt into bowls that had open spots.
And during the past several weeks, I have been in discussions and negotiations with all the bowls that might be open. Specifically, the Sun Belt targeted the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl and Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl and was in negotiations with both up until final decisions were made.