Bowl update: Who Gets Left Out – From the Bird’s Nest
Last night, the NCAA approved Georgia Tech's request for a bowl eligibility waiver. This means the Yellow Jackets will get to go to a bowl game, even if they lose to Florida State in the ACC Championship Game.
And, for some, it asks the question, "why put in a rule if you're not going to follow it?"
The rule isn't the NCAA's. It was the Football Bowl Association. With four teams not eligible for the postseason this year, the Association came up with a list of how the FBA might fill the bowl slots and an order in which teams would be considered.
A 6-7 team that loses its conference championship game is on the list, but not first on the list.
Georgia Tech, however, was in the same boat UCLA was in last year. AT 6-6 and bowl eligible, the Yellow Jackets are being forced to play in the ACC title game because Miami declared itself ineligible for the second straight year. Georgia Tech, like UCLA, used the argument if they didn't have to play in the game, they would be 6-6 and no one would be questioning their qualifications. Their argument about the new 6-7 rule was, it didn't apply because they were being forced to play.
And, the NCAA agreed. So, Georgia Tech is in. That makes 71 bowl eligible teams. For 70 slots.
And, two more teams have a chance to get to 6-6 as well. Connecticut (5-6, 2-4), plays host to Cincinnati (8-3, 4-2). Pittsburgh (5-6, 2-4) is at South Florida (3-8, 1-5).
Thank goodness, Cajun fans don't have to worry about this. Louisiana is in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl for the second straight year. The Cajuns, 7-4 entering Saturday's game against Florida Atlantic, will play either East Carolina or Rice in the Dec. 22 bowl.
But what about the rest of the Sun Belt teams?
Last year the league had four bowl-eligible teams. Three of them, Arkansas State, Louisiana and FIU all played in bowl games. WKU, 7-5 and the second place team in the league, was left out.
This year the 'Belt has five teams that have qualified. One has been placed, What about the other four?
Well, it depends on who you talk to.
It's pretty easy to figure out Middle Tennessee and Arkansas State are going to be in bowl games. They play Saturday for the Sun Belt title in Jonesboro. It appears the Liberty Bowl in Memphis and godaddy.com in Mobile will take the two teams.
That leaves WKU and ULM. Bowls that should have openings are the Military in Washington, D.C., Little Caesars in Detroit and the Independence Bowl in Shreveport.
Right now one team is getting left out. Many feel that is going to be Central Michigan (6-6) out of the MAC. That could change, LIttle Caesars may decide to have a MAC/MAC matchup, matching two teams that did not play during the regular season. That would give an extra slot to that league.
If the favorites win tomorrow, the list of eligible teams would rise to 72. And, those bows that are open will be looking at five schools for three slots: San Jose State and Louisiana Tech from the WAC, ULM and WKU from the Sun Belt, and a team from the MAC, let's say CMU for sake of argument.
Again, depending on who you talk to, here are some of the rumors going around.
SAN JOSE STATE finished second in a top-heavy WAC with three really good teams. Utah State has already agreed to play in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, ID. The pro for SJSU is, they're a good, talented club. The con is, they don't even draw at home. The thought of bringing them across the country doesn't excite any of the available bowls.
LOUISIANA TECH really thought they were headed to the Liberty or Heart of Dallas. But HOD will fill its contracted slots and the Liberty is much warmer to ASU or MTSU, especially after Tech dropped its final two games to the two best teams in the WAC. Tech's attitude toward the Independence Bowl was pretty lukewarm when they were 9-1. At 9-3, Shreveport is looking better to the Bulldogs, but is Tech looking good to the Bowl, considering Tech's attitude? It's no secret Tech does not want to play ULM. They got their way in 2008. They may not this time around.
Speaking of the Warhawks, ULM finished their season at 8-4 and the two games they lost were without the Sun Belt's most electrifying player in QB Kolton Browning. Their resume is solid, with their only other two losses to a school from the SEC and one from the Big 12. ULM wants Shreveport and Shreveport has warmed to the school from Monroe. Louisiana Tech could be the 800-pound elephant in the room. If the Indy Bowl is turned off by Tech's lukewarm attitude and take ULM. Then the ball would be in Tech's court. Play in Shreveport against a team they want no part of, or look toward Washington.
WKU was the odd school out last year, finishing 7-5 but with no place to go. The Hilltoppers played early as though the snub was a distant memory, starting 5-1. But WKU lost four of their last six games and had to stage a frantic rally to win their final game. And as a result, there they sit at 7-5 again. Little Caesars has shown interest, but again, there's the rumor of a MAC/MAC matchup there. Unfortunately for the Hilltoppers, Detroit might be their only option, although Washington DC is a slight possibility.
The other fly in the ointment is Kent State. After watching them in week two last year, who would have thought the Golden Flashes (11-1) would be on the cusp of a BCS Bowl berth. But there they sit at #17 this week, and a win over Northern Illinois (11-1) in the MAC championship game tonight at 6:00. A Kent State win probably pushes a second Big 12 school out of the BCS and puts Iowa State in the Independence Bowl. That could mean trouble for ULM.
Of the schools mentioned above, Louisiana Tech probably has the least to worry about. But the other three shouldn't be sleeping too easily until after all the Saturday games are played. If two teams need to be eliminated, both Sun Belt schools could be in peril, especially Detroit goes MAC/MAC.