NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - As the Southland Conference enters it's 55th football season this year, Southland Commissioner Tom Burnett said the conference is stronger than ever and part of that has to do with a longtime rivalry here in the Pineywoods.
Burnett spoke to the Nacogdoches Rotary Club Wednesday afternoon and while he promised the pro-SFA crowd he would not mention the school in Huntsville by name, he did say that the rivalry between the two in multiple sports has only strengthened the conference. Burnett said the decision several years ago to move The Battle of The Pineywoods to Houston from on campus has made the rivalry even bigger.
"We love it," Burnett said. "As a premier conference to put that game on that platform is fantastic. SFA and Sam Houston are real cornerstones in this conference. I think the rivalry helps the conference competitively and Sam Houston Football has gotten those headlines and SFA Basketball has gotten those, but both of those programs have success across the board."
Burnett also praised the outreach the conference has been able to achieve on TV and streaming services.
"We had over 200 events gets put on TV last year," Burnett said. "It was amazing to see that. A lot of it has to do with the work the universities are doing whit in house production. A lot of credit goes to SFA and what they have done with ESPN3 on campus."
Before meeting with rotary members, Burnett made a stop by Homer Bryce Stadium to meet with the SFA coaching staff as they prepared for the start of fall football camp tomorrow.
"They know how to get things down competitively," Burnett said. "They know how to recruit successful student athletes. When you can do that in this conference you are going to be successful."