No bowl game for the Trojans
Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 14, 2008
So far I’ve given my views about the BCS and what I feel should happen with the college football postseason.
This time around, I’m going to focus on something I see as a snub by the bowl selection committees – the Troy Trojans.
Let me start by giving Troy’s qualifications.
The Trojans finished the season at 8-4, which isn’t bad and well above the 6-6 mark needed to be bowl eligible.
Troy lost three of their four games to SEC opponents – Georgia, Florida and Arkansas, and each of those teams is playing in a bowl on New Year’s Day.
The other loss came against Florida Atlantic in the last game of the season.
Sure, the Trojans should have won that game to assure themselves of a bowl berth, but then again, name a team that hasn’t slipped up at some point this season.
Ultimately, it was in Troy’s hands whether or not they would play in a bowl game, and they failed to deliver.
But surely an 8-4 team has a very good shot at making another bowl, right?
The Trojans will be sitting at home this bowl season.
When I found that out, the first thing I wondered is how this could happen.
Certainly a bowl committee would choose Troy over someone that’s 6-6, like Oklahoma State (who the Trojans soundly thumped by 18 points earlier in the season) or even Alabama.
Then I realized that there are other forces at work here.
The first reason that came to mind while wondering why is money.
Bowl games are all about the money.
Maybe that’s a cynical way of looking at things, but I don’t think it’s too far from the truth.
Of course 6-6 Alabama is going to get picked over 8-4 Troy.
Alabama has a much larger fan base and will travel well, no matter if they’re playing in Spokane, Wash., or Mobile.
The bowls are in it to make money, as you can see by them putting a brand name in front of the bowl name (San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, anyone?).
Naturally, these bowls are going to pick up a team that will travel well.
Then I realized that there is more to it than that.
Each of these bowl games has a conference affiliation associated with it.
For instance, the Outback Bowl will always feature a Big Ten team against an SEC team and the Cotton Bowl will be a Big 12 team against the SEC.
Do you know how many bowl affiliations the Sun Belt conference has?
The winner of the Sun Belt is guaranteed a spot in the R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, a spot the Trojans claimed last year.
Second place (or even co-champion) in the Sun Belt doesn’t get anything.
I think it may be time for Sun Belt conference officials to get on the ball and lobby for at least one more bowl affiliations.
Conference-USA has five bowl affiliations.
C-USA hasn’t been on top of its game for a number of years, and surely the second best team in the Belt is as good as the fifth best team in C-USA.
(By the way, East Carolina, C-USA No. 5, is in the unenviable position of spending a few days in the horrible December destination of Honolulu, Hawaii.)
Perhaps the Sun Belt isn’t consistently good enough to have a bowl spot all to itself.
There are several bowls that have two conferences to choose from.
For instance, Gator and Sun bowls can take either a Big 12 or Big East team.
Maybe the Sun Belt could work out a deal like that with the Mountain West Conference or even C-USA.
I obviously think this year’s Sun Belt No. 2 (Troy) is worthy of a bid, and last year the Sun Belt No. 2 (Middle Tennessee State) got a bid to the Motor City Bowl.
Last year, Middle Tennessee State got a bowl bid, which brings me to my next point.
As I’ve repeatedly said, the equality of college football this season has been spectacular, so that means that there are plenty of 6-6 teams that are able to fulfill their conference affiliations.
If there was a lack of teams to fill these spots, at-large teams such as Troy and Middle Tennessee last year, would get the bid in order of having the best record.
Last year, MTSU got the spot with a 7-5 record over a 6-6 Kansas team.
To the best of my knowledge, there are no at-large teams in this year’s field.
Navy is independent of conference, but has a contract to play in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl if they’re eligible.
All of this has converged to leave the Trojans at home during the holidays after losing to Florida Atlantic.
Is Troy worthy?
Did everything fall into place this year?
Not at all.
Now I’m left at home, rooting for Florida Atlantic, the very team that knocked the Trojans out of a bowl berth.
I’m hoping the Owls put a whoopin’ on Memphis and help prove the case that the Sun Belt deserves another bid.
As much as it pains me to say it, let’s go Owls!