BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- The move to Conference USA is a big one for the WKU sports program.
It's one that will have a lot of benefits for the teams on the hill.
The football team is one of the first at the school that will start playing in Conference USA and fans could see the benefits in the first season.
Conference USA has six bowl tie-ins. The Sun Belt Conference had two. Hilltopper fans most likely won't have to watch the Tops finish 7-5 or 8-4 but miss out on the postseason anymore.
"Well with football being a fall sport I think the first benefit they'll see Is the bowl tie-ins. Conference USA has six and the Sun Belt previously had two so I think the days of going seven and five eight and four and missing out on a bowl game are over thankfully," WKU Athletic Director Todd Stewart said.
The move is also a rare one for the school.
WKU has spent more than sixty years in the Ohio Valley Conference and the Sun Belt Conference.
The move to Conference USA was announced on April 1st in 2013, so the school has had time to get ready for the move.
"Pittsburgh Steelers had two coaches in some sixty years and that's really what we have been like. We were in the OVC for thirty four years and then in the Sun Belt for thirty two so it's not something we do on a regular basis," Stewart said.
"You know it's really been every emotion wrapped into one over the last year and a half because it was a little bit of nervousness wanting to make sure we got into Conference USA. It was a game of musical chairs there for a year and a half in the collegiate landscape and you just wanted to make sure when the music stopped you weren't left standing. So Initally a little nervousness to make sure we could do everything we can to get in and once we announced that we were in on April first of 2013 that actually helped because it gave us fourteen months to prepare. It wasn't like two months later we were in a new conference. Let us focus on the task at hand finish the last season in the Sun Belt strong which we did. We won the all sports trophy, but at the same time behind the scenes we were able to prepare for this move, programs were able to prepare, our coaches were, looking into travel and things like that so we'll be locked and loaded and ready to go," Stewart said.
"I think another thing fans will notice sooner rather than later are the teams we play. I think they'll be a lot more familiar with the Middle Tennessee, Marshall, UAB and even Old Dominion, Louisiana Tech schools we have had a rivalry with but not in recent years so that's what our hope is. Just that fans will be more excited about the programs we play, a little more about the programs in Conference USA. That'll help our attendance, help the atmosphere at games and just have a domino effect in a positive nature across the board," Stewart said.