Ragin' Cajuns declared Sun Belt Conference champions — in spirit
The Ragin' Cajuns are Sun Belt Conference Champions — at least in Lafayette's hearts.
Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory issued a proclamation Wednesday declaring the University of Louisiana at Lafayette football team the champions after the team's game at No. 11 Coastal Carolina was canceled because of COVID-19 issues.
"We the people of Lafayette recognize our beloved Ragin' Cajuns football team as the 2020 Sun Belt Conference Champions," the proclamation reads. "The Cajuns made all of these accomplishments despite facing unprecedented adversity this season, including multiple natural disasters and a global pandemic, all thanks to the firm leadership of Coach Billy Napier and his staff."
Guillory read the proclamation to the team as players shouted, "preach" and clapped. He also gave head football coach Napier a key to the city.
The No. 17 Cajuns (9-1) flew to South Carolina last week hoping to avenge their only loss of the season, only to return to Louisiana the next day.
The team will now fly to Dallas to face the Roadrunners (7-4) of Conference USA on Saturday (2:30 p.m., ABC).
Coastal Carolina had to cancel the Sun Belt Conference Championship game after a positive COVID-19 test and related contact quarantine that depleted its defensive line.
The Sun Belt Conference recognized UL and Coastal Carolina Conference as co-champions while the College Football Playoff Committee recognized Coastal Carolina as the sole champions.
This isn't the first time a university football team has been declared a champion by unconventional means. The University of Central Florida in 2017 declared itself National Champions after a perfect 13-0 record and defeating Auburn, which beat both Alabama and Georgia which went on to play in the actual national championship.