Well, we started off giving up 22 points to a I-AA school (of course they're all generic in NCAA 10, so let's say it's Nicholls State, for no reason other than that I keep assuming they're in Texas and realizing they're in Louisiana) which wasn't a good omen. Next came thrashings by Kansas State and LSU ... at that point I was wondering whether or not we'd be able to compete in I-A at all, never mind the Sun Belt.
But we went into Lincoln and stunned Nebraska (apparently without their All-American DT - yes, the same guy in New York right now hopefully awaiting the Heisman), and suddenly things didn't look so bad.
Conference play next: lost our opener to North Texas, ran off five straight wins, and suddenly we're bowl-eligible. (Funny, I thought it was six wins because I-AA wins counted. I guess I know more than EA.) Sadly, that was the end of the line. Lost to Louisiana-Monroe, lost to Troy, finished fourth in the conference and were left out of the bowl picture. (One of the Florida schools won, FIU or Florida Atlantic. Naturally, we'd beaten both of them. ULM and Troy were 7th and 9th, respectively.)
Turned down an offer to join Conference USA (replacing UAB). No thanks, I'm in this for the achievement. (Not that I'll be able to win the SEC, but I guess you never know until you try.)
Signed a couple of three-star recruits during the season, then landed a four-star and a couple more three-star guys in the offseason. Added a pipeline state, too (but of course I can't figure out what it is because EA sucks). UPDATE: it's Georgia. You can't find out until the season starts. So now my pipeline includes Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, and Florida. You might think it's odd that Mississippi and Alabama aren't included, but it's a numbers game: the most populous states around me. With Texas and Florida, I probably don't need to try to get California or New York.
It's hard to recruit when everything other than location is C+ or worse, but easy when you know basically anyone two-star or better can come right in and play. I did redshirt a lot of players, including three wide receivers: we're already six deep at the position and have an 85 transfer from Florida State who'll play his senior season next year.
Our recruiting class was much better than the rest of the conference, so that's a good sign. There are three teams picked to finish above us, but they're all pretty much the same. We're C- overall (up from D), C on offense, C- on defense, B- on special teams (was D+/D/C-, I think).
I added rival Louisiana Tech to our schedule, which is a C- in strength again. I got one of two goals last year (finish .500 and get a bowl bid). This year it's beat ULM, get a bowl, and beat a 5- or 6-star team. The last one won't happen unless we meet one in a bowl: 4-star Mississippi is the team with the biggest rep on our schedule.
The only tough games should be the ones at Mississippi and Minnesota; we should be able to play with anyone on the schedule, but then again that should have been true in-conference last year and we went 5-3. We'll see.