You didn’t ask, but we answered:
• What’s all this, then? On July 1, a crop of the realignment changes we’ve been so resistant to took effect. Among the movers was South Alabama, which joins the Sun Belt for its final transitional season before becoming a full FBS member in 2013.
• How does that work, exactly? Right when the Jaguars first started poking their egg teeth through, three years and three jobs ago, we congratulated them on their "clunky, slow-loading website," a fixture in major college athletics. They've since put together a super-handy timeline that every program making a conference jump should immediately emulate, outlining the restrictions and privileges of the program from inception to Sun Belt acceptance. Next season, for example, USA will be an SBC member school in terms of scheduling, but won't be eligible to compete for a conference title.
• So this is another brand-new program? About as new as they come. The Jaguars have staged games since 2009, and played their first full season in 2011.
• How'd that work out? Glory be, an FBS transitional team entering with a winning record! USA went 6-4 against a slate of mostly FCS competition last year.
• You seem to really like this team. Is it because its initials are USA? That, and because its colors are red, white and blue. It would be un-American not to support the Jaguars. Plus, we are always in favor of putting more college football in the world.
• Even in Alabama? They already have lots of football there. Especially in Alabama! What else are we going to do in this part of the world? Watch baseball? Nooooo, buddy.
• Where do the Jaguars play? Mobile's Ladd-Peebles stadium, which seats more than twice USA's entire enrollment of around 15,000. It's also home to the GoDaddy.com Bowl; hopefully having a regular college team around will class up the joint some.
• Where might we catch the Jaguars on the field next year? All over God's green Sun Belt, and in paycheck games against NC State and Mississippi State. They'll actually play a 13-game schedule in 2012 thanks to the Hawaii rule.
• Might we have heard of South Alabama football in the news recently? You might have! USA was left out of EA Sports' most recent NCAA Football video game, and after a public outcry has been promised inclusion in the 2014 edition with much added fanfare.
• USA has a big cat mascot. Are there hilarious antics involving a live big cat on campus in its past? There sure are! Story time!
The acquisition of the jaguar triggered a reaction of jubilation through the growing USA campus. [...] The name “Mischka” was selected in a contest from a list of student, faculty and staff submissions and announced during halftime festivities of USA’s 87-67 win over cross-town foe Spring Hill College. USA student Bob Kirsch submitted the winning name, which was derived from the Russian version of the name “Michael” but was commonly used in Russia as a reference to a dancing bear in a circus. [...] However, the University later decided against housing a live animal on campus after Mischka, who was recovering after being treated for a bad tooth, decided to take a tour of the campus after someone made the mistake of leaving her pen door unlocked.
USA now employs two human mascots in plush jaguar outfits named "South Paw" and "Miss Pawla."
• Are they named after Paul Finebaum? Probably! • Any other programs getting in on this netherworld action? This is Part 3 of a four-day FAQ on transitional FBS programs. Previously: UMass and UT San Antonio. Coming up tomorrow: Texas State.