Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Some 5-7 teams get to go bowling

Some teams with losing records will be going bowling this season:
It’s official: There will be multiple teams with losing records playing in bowl games next month.

With only currently 75 bowl-eligible teams to fill 80 bowl berths, at least two bowls will need teams with 5-7 records. And there could be as many as five teams with losing record earning bowl berths because not enough teams reached six wins to fill the record 41 bowl games, including the College Football Playoff title game.
I've always pushed back against the argument that there are "too many" bowl games. Nobody's forcing anyone to watch the ones they find uninteresting or unworthy, and as a college football fan I agree with something that former Sports Illustrated sportswriter Arash Markazi once said: "At the end of the day, it's still college football and what could be better than college football in December and early January? Saying there are too many bowl games is like saying there are too many presents under the Christmas tree."

That being said, you have to wonder if we've reached the bowl saturation threshold. Bowl games are supposed to be a reward for teams that had a successful, winning season. More recently, the proliferation of bowl games has meant that anybody who manages a .500 record goes to a bowl. Now we've come to the point where teams with losing records get to go bowling.

While we've come a long way from when deserving teams were routinely shut out of bowl games - I used to keep tally of the winning teams that were Screwed and Shafted out of postseason play - it appears we've reached the point where bowl games are an award for participation, rather than an actual reward for success.

Unless, perhaps, it's success in the classroom, which will decide which schools with losing records make it to the postseason:
Teams with 5-7 records will become eligible for at least two bowl bids and as many as five, based on their Academic Progress Rates. The NCAA Division I council approved a recommendation made by the football oversight committee Monday to fill the record 41 bowls with five-win teams because not enough teams will meet the standard bowl-eligibility requirements.
To no one's surprise, a certain school on South Main has made the list of potentials:
Based on 2013-14, Nebraska has the best APR among 5-7 teams, at 985. Missouri and Kansas State are next on the list, with an APR of 976, followed by Minnesota (975), San Jose State (975), Illinois (973) and Rice (973).
Nebraska, as the first team in line for a bowl invite based on APR, announced Monday night it will play in a bowl if invited.
Missouri, however, will decline any potential bowl. In order for the Owls to make it into the postseason, other schools listed above will have to decline invites as well, and a couple of teams fighting for bowl eligibility will have to lose on Saturday:
Kansas State can become bowl eligible Saturday with a win at West Virginia, but the Wildcats should get in either way. Georgia State (5-6) visits Georgia Southern and South Alabama (5-6) hosts Appalachian State as those teams seek to reach bowl-eligibility based on record and shut out the 5-7 teams with high APRs.

In the past 20 years, only three teams with losing records have received bowl berths: Georgia Tech (2012), UCLA (2011) and North Texas (2001).
I remember that 2001 North Texas team well, because I lived in Denton at the time. They went 0-5 out-of-conference, but their 5-1 in-conference record was good enough for them to clinch the Sun Belt title and go to the New Orleans Bowl.

At the time, the idea of a team with a losing record going to a bowl seemed like a bizarre oddity, a once-in-a-generation fluke. But now it appears to be becoming commonplace.

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