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This Week in Blue Raider History: A start of new eras

MT participated in first SBC game; Johnny Red Floyd returns

September 24, 2013 · @MTAthletics

Each week, GoBlueRaiders.com highlights some of the historic moments in Middle Tennessee Football history. This week we visit MT's first game as a Sun Belt Conference member and the return of Coach Johnny "Red" Floyd.

Sept. 22, 2001 - Blue Raiders open Sun Belt era

On September 22, 2001, Middle Tennessee made history. Not only did the Blue Raiders play their first game in their new conference, the Sun Belt Conference, but it was also the first football game ever played by two Sun Belt teams.

In 2001, the college football landscape looked much like it does today. The movement of schools like Middle Tennessee and ULM from then Division I-AA to 1-A football mixed with the Big West Conference deciding to discontinue football, led to addition of the sport by the Sun Belt Conference for the 2001 season.

The first conference game scheduled was between the newest 1-A teams in the conference, the Blue Raiders and the then ULM Indians. Quarterback Wes Counts and running back Dwone Hicks, both of whom would end the season as conference players of the year, led Middle Tennessee over ULM 38-20 in Monroe, La.

The Blue Raiders went to on to have their best season under head coach Andy McCollum finishing 8-3. Their only losses were on the road to Ole Miss, LSU and in conference to North Texas. The Blue Raiders also defeated Vanderbilt that season for the first time in school history.

Sept. 27, 1935 - Johnny "Red" Floyd Returns

On September 27, 1935 Johnny "Red" Floyd began his second stint as head coach of the Blue Raider football team. Floyd's first year as coach was in 1917, and his Middle Tennessee Normal team went undefeated at 7-0-0. But 1918 brought World War I and like most schools, MT did not field a football squad.

In 1919 Alfred B. Miles took over the football program for his second term, so it was not until 1935 that Floyd got a second chance. He would capitalize on that second opportunity as his team, with the new nickname Blue Raiders, won their matchup with Cumberland on that late September day 13-6 in Murfreesboro.

In his five short years as head coach, Floyd left his mark. He still has the best winning percentage in school history at .782. He finished with a record of 30-8-1 at the helm and for his success the football stadium was named in his honor in 1968.

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