SU, TLU Football Programs to Join ASC in 2017
By: Andrew Pratt
The Southwestern University Football team has a new home. Announced earlier today, the Pirates, along with the Texas Lutheran Bulldogs will become football affiliates to the American Southwest Conference (ASC). The affiliation will not take effect until the 2017 football season.
This news comes weeks after it was announced that SCAC members, Austin College and Trinity University, will be affiliating with the Southern Athletic Association (SAA). Like Southwestern and Texas Lutheran, the duo will only be affiliate members for the sport of football. All four schools will still be members of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) in all other sports.
The ASC is currently home to eight universities in the sport of football. The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (UMHB), East Texas Baptist University (ETBU), Sul Ross State University (SRSU), Hardin-Simmons University (HSU), Lousiana College (LC), Bellhaven College (BC), and McMurray University (MU) are all currently members of this conference with the sport of football. The addition of Southwestern and Texas Lutheran will bump numbers up to ten.
This brings potentially even better news in the future. Due to the growth of the sport of football in this conference, there would be a growing possibility of an automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA National Championship Playoffs. While this change is possible, it would be determined based on the voting outcome of a proposal that is being brought up at the NCAA Convention held in mid-January.
If everything works in the conferences favor, the ASC could receive an automatic qualifier as early as 2018.
Even without the automatic qualifier, ASC teams are no stranger to the playoffs. This season, the conference saw two teams make it, Mary Hardin Baylor and Hardin Simmons.
UMHB has been a regional powerhouse for years, making deep runs in the playoffs every year, minus last season where they were upset in the second round to Linfield College. Currently, UMHB is still alive for a national title, however they face Linfield College this Saturday.
Hardin Simmons entered the playoffs thanks to their shocking upset of rival UMHB during the regular season. This placed them high enough in the regional rankings to be considered for an At-Large Bid. Their playoff run did not last long as they were ousted in the first round by UMHB.
What does this move mean for the future of Southwestern University Football? Overall, it means the quality of competition will improve. The conference has tough competitors that will test the progress of the young Pirate program.
Moving to this conference will also open up more recruiting opportunities for the school and program. At the Division III level, the majority of football athletes are drawn to the American Southwest Conference schools. Now being affiliated with said conference, the school will be use that as a draw for potential recruits.
The Pirates finished fourth in the SCAC rankings this past season with an overall record of 2-8. As will the rest other three teams, they will participate in one final SCAC season before moving into their respected conferences for the future.