In the past few years I have attended one NCAA Convention and one NCAA Compliance Conference. I learned three things:
1) The NCAA manual is too long and complicated for everyone.
2) The changes implemented are always too conservative, occur too slowly, & are always reactive not proactive.
3) It's all very boring.
That said, every week it seems there is new legislation proposed and debated; legislation that will shape the future of the game we love.
So I decided to take a look at the seven biggest proposed changes to college football, and how those changes will effect UB. Today we look at the proposal to require 7 wins to attend a bowl game.
I first heard of this proposal today. It is an effort to increase interest and ratings in bowl games, reduce the number of bowl games hosted, and prevent mediocre teams from losing money by traveling to these bowl games.
- The last MAC team to go bowling with 6 wins was Northern Illinois in 2008.
- Since 2002, the only other MAC team in a bowl game with six wins was the 2004 Marshall team that went 6-5.
- Chances are in the current system, if a MAC team goes 6-6 they will be one of the eligible teams that does not get an invite. In the old or the proposed system, we'd have to shoot for 7 wins.
- Buffalo has not won exactly 6 or 7 games since 1984 when we won 6. We usually win less than 6, but when we're good, we tend to win 8 or more games.
The 7 game requirement should help the Mid-Major teams who are 7-5 but lack tradition and a traveling fan base. It also puts 6 win Mid-Majors out of their misery. No more hoping to get a bowl game at 6-6, and waiting weeks only to be passed over.
This year if there was a 7 win requirement, 4 B1G teams would have been ineligible for bowls along with, 3 SEC teams, 2 Pac 12 and Big 12 teams and 1 team from each of the C-USA, Big East and ACC. Western Kentucky* would have been able to go bowling with a 7-5 record.**
*Theoretically 14 teams would have been ineligible, Bowl games would have been reduced by 7 and WKU still would have had no bowl game to play.
**Miami and USC were bowl Eligible but did not play. If they did play in Bowl games, it is likely that the WAC's Utah State and the MAC's Western Michigan would be the next two teams out. Alternatively bowl games could have been reduced by 6 and Utah State and WMU would still have been able to play, that would still leave an odd number of eligible teams, so WKU still not in.
Dream Scenario for UB - Mid-Majors strategically schedule games vs AQ conferences. Currently many Mid-Major programs schedule one way games with AQ teams in exchange for money. The loss helps the Major teams reach bowl eligibility with little resistance, and hurts the Mid-Major's chances of attending a bowl game. In the dream scenario, Mid Majors would avoid games with the mediocre AQ teams.
- 27 mediocre AQ teams were eligible for bowls - These teams all had between 6 and 8 wins in the regular season. 26, attended bowls, (Miami did not).
- In contests vs Mid-Majors, those teams went 31-6. 17.4% of that group's win total came from victories over Mid-Majors. (They also went 23-0 vs FCS for another 13% of their wins).
- 12 (44%) of those mediocre AQ teams needed a victory or victories over Mid-Major teams to get their 6th win and bowl eligibility.
- 4 (15%) of those teams finished 6-6, but did not need wins over Mid-Majors to get their 6 victories
- 8 teams (30%) needed their victory(ies) over Mid-Major teams to get to 7 wins.
- With a 7 win requirement, but without wins vs Mid-Major, only 3 out of the 27 mediocre AQ teams would have guaranteed themselves bowl elgibility last year: Georgia Tech, Virginia and Louisville, (Louisville went 0-2 vs the Mid-Majors)
This scenario would force AQ teams to schedule each other and create 10-14 bowl spots for Mid-Major teams annually.
More-Likely Scenario: The current non-conference strategy seems to be:
game 1) FCS team,
game 2) Mid-Major team,
game 3) Geographic Rival, Challenging Non-Conference game, or Mid-Major #2,
game 4) Traditional Rival
With 7 wins for a bowl birth, and the success of the SEC method of scheduling, I think most AQ programs will look to schedule 2 Mid-Major home games a year. The increase in demand should increase the payouts to Mid-Major teams, so this system could actually create more money for the Mid-Majors with less expenses due to less bowl participation. However, for a Mid-Major program, this would increase losing and amplify the core problems Mid-Major's have: fan support, travel, tradition, and stability.
Status: The winter of discontent over the BCS has created a spring of changes, this is the latest proposal.
Outlook: Too early to tell, but if money is being lost, there is a good chance this could happen.