With too many bowls and not enough .500-or-better teams to play in them, postseason games could be taken off the schedule in the near future, appropriately named Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Sunday.
With 80 bowl spots available and only 75 teams currently sitting on six or more wins (plus three five-win teams to play Saturday), between two and five sub-.500 teams will be needed to fill the postseason slate.
Bowlsby, chairman of the Football Oversight Committee, said the solution is to cut bowl games when not enough teams qualify for them.
“If we add more bowls next year, where are we going to find 84, 86, 88 eligible teams?” Bowlsby said. “Having bowls go dark may be the way to slow the process down. There are a lot of people that don’t even like 6-6, much less 5-7. There are people who absolutely want bowls to go dark.”
“I can promise you this one thing: We won’t be dealing with this next year.”
According to CBS Sports, Bowlsby did not explicitly say eliminating bowls this year was out of the question but did say that would be unfair to six- or seven-win teams matched up with conferences without enough qualifying teams.
NCAA rules say that if not enough teams reach 6-6, a 5-7 team with a top-five Academic Progress Rating can participate in a bowl game but doesn’t indicate what to do if none of the 5-7 teams are in the APR top five.
ESPN cited a source saying the rule is meant to mean the top five 5-7 teams in terms of APR, a source saying geography will play a key role in filling the extra slots, a source saying the oversight committee could make up the rules as it goes, and a source saying some 5-7 teams might not even accept a bowl invitation.
For what it’s worth, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas State are the 5-7 teams with the highest APR, based on 2013-14 data.
Maybe the most sensible option is for conferences to fill their assigned bowls with 5-7 teams as necessary. For example, the Big Ten, which doesn’t have enough 6-6 teams to fill its bowl allotment, would send 5-7 Minnesota, Illinois or Nebraska to the Quick Lane Bowl, given that the conference is affiliated with that game.
Bowlsby seemed to suggest the competition committee is just confused about all this as the rest of us.
“There are those that think a 5-7 team ought to immediately backfill for their own conference,” he said. “There are those who say just let the bowls go dark. There are those think there ought to be an APR minimum, but you shouldn’t slice and dice among close APRs. There are those who think there shouldn’t be an APR component, but I think the (NCAA) board’s past actions are pretty clear they want an academic component to the selection process.”
On the bright side, maybe this means we’ve reached a tipping point in the bloating of the bowl schedule and can settle for 35-38 postseason games from now on?