The UL women’s basketball program prepares to open Sun Belt Conference play on the road this weekend with a pair of 4 p.m. games at Texas State on Friday and Saturday.
On the surface, that’s no big deal. College basketball teams across America are traveling to open league play.
When it comes to coach Garry Brodhead’s team and the Sun Belt Conference, however, that doesn’t begin to tell the story.
How many programs in America are doing that for the eighth straight season?
I don’t know the answer to that question, but I can tell you no other Sun Belt team has.
It’s been a long, stressful, sometimes miserable year for so many in the Acadiana area and beyond.
There’s just no way around it, the Sun Belt’s treatment of the Cajuns’ women’s program has been deplorable.
Shame on the Sun Belt Conference.
During those eight years, UALR has started at home six times, Arkansas State four times, Texas State five times, UTA six, South Alabama seven times, Troy six times, three apiece for the two Georgia schools and two each for Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina.
Even UL’s travel partner ULM has done it twice.
“I really don’t like to think about it,” Brodhead said. “That’s how much I like it.
“Hey, I lose. Nine years of it. Nobody can explain it.”
Do your job Sun Belt Conference. Stop being so unfair. Make it right.
And before anyone gets ready to play the COVID card, don’t even try it.
That issue only makes it worse.
The offseason had gone better than really just about any program in the country.
When the original Sun Belt hoops schedule was released Oct. 17, it actually had the Cajuns playing five of their first seven league games at the Cajundome.
Brodhead didn’t know what to do with himself. It was such a feeling of relief.
“It’s kind of exciting,” he said at the time. “I like our schedule. It’s the first time I really like the conference schedule. That’s been a big boost for us. I think our whole staff is really excited.”
Then understandably, things had to change.
Because of the coronavirus, the league adopted a different format with division scheduling, forcing some teams to begin the season with a lot of home games and some with a lot of road games.
That’s where it really gets sinister.
If you had to select a team to get five of seven or six of its first eight at home, why wouldn’t it be the Cajuns?
You know, the program that hasn’t begun league play at home since 2012.
Instead, the Sun Belt chose to allow South Alabama to play its first four games at home. You know, the South Alabama program that’s started league play at home seven of the last 10 seasons.
Instead of being fair to UL for a change, the league gave four straight home games to Georgia State, which has now started at home three straight seasons. And four straight to UTA, which has started at home six times in the last eight seasons.
Just an absolutely disgraceful job by the Sun Belt of being fair and equitable.
In many ways, UL women’s basketball coach Garry Brodhead felt more prepared for a season opener two weeks ago than when his Ragin’ Cajuns take…
Shame on everyone involved in this process.
Ignorance of it doesn’t fly either.
When the original schedule was announced, the news release clearly said it was UL’s first time in nine seasons to start conference play at home.
At best, it’s outright negligence. At worst, it’s a vendetta.
The “It’s just women’s basketball” argument doesn’t apply here either. It’s not about comparing sports to football.
It’s not even about Title IX.
It’s about mistreating one program in relation to all the others in the league.
Even ULM has started at home four times in the least 10 years.
Furthermore, how about a little loyalty and paying of the dues here as well?
UL’s been a part of this league for almost 30 years. Programs like Texas State, UTA, App and Coastal Carolina joined less than a decade ago.
Yet, the Mavs have opened at home six of the last eight years and Texas State five times.
Is it possible the league doesn’t like Brodhead or the program or the university? Don’t know, but that doesn’t matter. Be fair.
Watching how hard Brodhead is on officials at times, it wouldn’t surprise me. That wouldn’t make it right, though.
If the league hates him or the program that much, kick them out. But while they’re still in it, it’s the league office’s job to be fair.
Others may think that this issue is a much of complaining about nothing. It’s not like you automatically win the league just because you open at home.
True, but if it’s not a big deal, then why not make it equitable? What is the down side to just being fair?
If it’s totally insignificant, then why do programs all across the country in many sports open their seasons with a ton of home games whenever possible?
In fact, I’d argue playing at home to open league play is the most important time to be at home. You’re typically coming off a long holiday break and you’re more used to the uncertainties of traveling later in the season than around New Year’s Day.
The mistreatment of Brodhead’s program in this area is even worse than it sounds. In many of those years, it wasn’t just starting on the road, but beginning with two games in Arkansas against longtime league powerhouses UALR and Arkansas State.
Shame on you Sun Belt Conference for being so unfair.
And it gets worse.
The two years UL did get to open league play at home — 2011-12 and 2012-13 — it was only one game and then it was right back on the road.
In fact, the last time UL opened a league season with at least two home games was the 2008-09 season. That’s 13 seasons.
No other program is even close to that kind of a drought.
Every other Sun Belt team has opened with two or more home games at least once in the last three seasons, other than UL and ULM. The Warhawks have at least done it twice in the last 10 teams, which also is wrong but still two more than the Cajuns.
Shame on you Sun Belt Conference.
Regardless of what the league thinks of Brodhead or UL, right is right.
Do the right thing for a change.
One or two token years isn’t going to fix it either.
If the Sun Belt office has any sense of justice left in it, the Cajuns should get a break at least four times over the next five years and at least seven over the next 10.
No, doing the right thing won’t guarantee Brodhead any wins or titles.
But it sure beats getting a raw deal year after year.