Who Gets Left Out of the Bowl Picture?: From the Bird’s Nest
It’s no secret the Cajuns are headed to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Heck, it was probably never a secret once the Cajuns became bowl eligible. Fans love New Orleans and the Bowl Executives love Cajun fans.
But what does that mean for the rest of the Sun Belt?
As of today, there are 78 bowl eligible teams. There could be as many as 80, but more likely there will be 79. That means three teams from the pool are going to sit at home.
Georgia Southern is the Sun Belt champion. But, as a school in its second year of transition from the FCS to the FBS, they are not eligible for a bowl this year. They have appealed the rule and it was denied. Now they are appealing the appeal. No one can blame the Eagles’ administration for making the effort. I think any school worth its salt would do the same. But it sure gums up the process. Here are a few possible scenarios.
IF THE APPEAL IS DENIED, as expected, most are expecting Arkansas State to pair up with the inaugural Raycom Media Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, to be played the night of December 20th (same date as the New Orleans Bowl.) That leaves the bowl committee in Mobile to make a tough decision: Do they invite the home team, who, at 6-6, is bowl eligible for the second straight year (they were not selected to play in a bowl last year)? Or, do they invite Texas State, a team that is 7-5 but lost to the Jaguars. It’s a tough call. South Alabama fans don’t exactly beat down the doors of Ladd-Peebles Stadium to watch their team play. And, I’m not sure anyone other than the diehards will care to see South Alabama play a school from the MAC. On the other hand, Texas State may not sell as many tickets as the host school would but would bring in some tourism dollars, which the city would, of course, love.
It’s kind of the situation the New Orleans Bowl was in last year. They didn’t necessarily want Tulane, but that’s the way the pecking order fell. Fortunately, the Cajuns brought so many folks that the two schools set another attendance record.
That’s not going to happen in Mobile.
It’s a tough call for godaddy. But I’m going to guess they’ll opt for Texas State.
But there’s also some scuttlebutt the Armed Forces Bowl, played Jan 2, are interested in the Bobcats. That would make sense, as the bowl would sell some tickets (there is a vacancy in that bowl because Army is not bowl-eligible.) If that should occur, it means some bad news for a MAC or CUSA team. Right now it appears one school from both leagues will be left out.
BUT WHAT IF GEORGIA SOUTHERN WINS ITS APPEAL?—It’s unlikely, but we’ve seen the NCAA do some strange things over the years. Remember when UCLA finished 6-6 and then lost its league championship game to finish 6-7? They appealed. And won.
So, if the least likely scenario happens, here’s my thought: The Cajuns are still in New Orleans. The folks in Mobile are off the hook politically and they invite Georgia Southern as the league champion. Now the political football winds up in Montgomery. Do they invite Arkansas State as most believe they will? Or do they succumb to the pressure and give the nod to South Alabama? That’s a tough call. I still believe ASU would get the nod, but it’s a shaky nod. Texas State would have to hope the Armed Forces Bowl comes calling. So, for that matter, would Arkansas State.
For Cajun fans, it’s time to buy tickets and make reservations. For the rest of the Sun Belt, it’s pins and needles.