Let’s Go Bowling…
It is a great day to be a Red Wolf, a Golden Flash or any of the other seventy teams that will be playing in a college bowl game this year. There are those who say there are too many bowls using their main argument that teams without a winning record make a bowl game. They believe that we are rewarding mediocre teams and fans with an extra game. Moreover they claim that we have watered down the college football experience by having thirty-five bowl games. I reject this line of thought and I am happy that the leadership of the NCAA allows us to enjoy the Bowl season.
Before I get to my point I have a short history lesson. In 1973 and 1974, the Arkansas State Indians played in NCAA Division II, before being promoted to Division I. Arkansas State University (ASU) recorded an undefeated season (going 11-0) in Division I in 1975 and was one of only two undefeated Division I football teams that year. Arkansas State was one of only four institutions to have gone undefeated and not win a National Championship at the Division I-A (now Division I FBS) level. Since Arkansas State was a member of the Southland Conference, and the league did not have a bowl game tie-in, Arkansas State was not selected for post-season play. As a result of this inequity, the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana was created (though ASU has never played in the game).
Source Wikipedia, I researched it and found that this is not true. The following list are the teams to be undefeated and not be National Champions. Two were on probation and probably should not be included but they were. Several had a tied game and should be removed as well. I would assume that the article was written before 2004, if that is the case then it is true.
|Final Ranking, Year||Team||Stats|
|#5 in 1992||Michigan||9-0-3, Rose Bowl, Big Ten|
|#5 in 2006||Boise State||13-0-0, Fiesta Bowl, WAC|
|#7 in 1998||Tulane||12-0-0, Liberty Bowl, C-USA|
|#8 in 1994 *||Texas A&M||10-0-1, No Bowl, SWC|
|#10 in 1974||Miami, Ohio||10-0-1, Tangerine Bowl, MAC|
|#10 in 1999||Marshall||13-0-0, Motor City Bowl, MAC|
|#16 in 1985||Fresno State||11-0-1, California Bowl, Big West|
|#17 in 1976||Rutgers||12-0-0, No Bowl, Independent|
|#24 in 1995||Toledo||11-0-1, Las Vegas Bowl, MAC|
|Unranked in 1975||Arkansas State||11-0-0, No Bowl, Southland|
Since then additional bowls have been added until we have the modern day bowl season. This year there are three teams ineligible because of NCAA sanctions: Ohio State, Penn State and Miami leaving seventy-two teams eligible (minimum 6-6 record, except Georgia Tech who was granted a waiver and allowed to participate in a bowl game with a 6-7 record). Reminds me of one of my favorite truisms: “For every Air Force regulation, there is an equal and opposite Guard waiver.”
Next a short detour before I make my point. Two teams are semi-noticeably absent from the bowl games this year, Louisiana Tech (La Tech) and Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). La Tech was 9-3, MTSU was 8-4 and both have message boards blowing up because they believe to have a legitimate charge that they were left out of the system. The reasoning is that since #16 Northern Illinois University (NIU 12-1) won the MAC Championship over Kent State and qualified for the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) by being ranked higher than the Champions of other BCS Conferences. Created by a lawyer with an engineering background, I don’t understand the math but the system knocked #12 Oklahoma (10-2) down to the regular bowl system and created a cascade effect that sent ripples down to the lower bowls thus forcing La Tech and MTSU to not have a landing pad.
(Full disclosure before I continue. La Tech is a former rival of ASU and MTSU is a current rival and former conference member of the Sun Belt conference. I have a deep and personal dislike of both schools for several personal reasons. I would never wish anything evil or harmful towards the school, players or fans. But I do enjoy the fact they were left out of the bowl season).
I feel bad for the players of both schools. They earned the right to participate in a bowl. I have no such sympathy for the fans of those schools. The fans of both schools are throwing tantrums claiming injustice and improper treatment from the Western Athletic Conference WAC and the Sun Belt Conference. Within the past few weeks both schools left their respective conference to join Conference USA. They mistakenly believe that their former conferences did not support them in the selection process. Several independent sources report that both schools were offered lower tiered bowls and both schools turned down the offer in hopes of a higher ranked bowl. The Liberty Bowl, Heart of Dallas Bowl and the Music City Bowl were mentioned as the ones they hoped to get.
I learned long ago that it is better to be with the one who loves you than to be alone and to wish you had someone to love. Both schools held out in hope of something better and they have the distinct privilege of getting to watch seventy football teams play in a Bowl game. Yes that group includes the humble Arkansas State. The Red Wolves are re-peat Sun Belt Champions and have lost only one conference game in two years, which was to Western Kentucky who is going to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Saturday, the Red Wolves played a close game with MTSU squeaking out a 45-0 win in front of 31,000 ASU fans, seven MTSU fans and at least one person (me), 600 miles away making chow-chow and listening to the game on my phone.
Arkansas State was also in the mix for a game In the Liberty Bowl which is played in Memphis. I would have loved to have been selected there because there would have been a strong chance I would have been able to attend. I am disappointed that the Liberty Bowl took 6-6 Iowa State but I am so proud to have the Go Daddy Bowl to watch on Big Boy ESPN, Sunday January 6th at 9:00 PM EST. For you die hard college fans, this game will be televised following the NFL Wildcard games and the night before the BCS Championship between Notre Dame and Alabama. It will be a great game, trust me. Most people think the reason a bowl game is important is because of the recruiting benefits or the money the schools get for appearing. That is great but the most important benefit is the additional practice time. The teams get fifteen additional practices because of a bowl. The coaches will use the majority as early Spring Practice with the younger players. This gives the Freshmen/Sophomores the time to learn the system. It helps the coaching staff focus on the returning players and gives everybody a head start going into the off season.
Both teams had the same color uniforms. Looking forward to the gold/blue of the Golden Flashes.
Last year ASU went to the Go Daddy Bowl and played NIU. This was the team’s first ever bowl game and at 10-2 they had a real chance to win the game. However, the Head Coach, Hugh Freeze took the Head Coach position at Ole Miss following the team’s final regular season game. He is from the Oxford area and I never would be critical someone who has the opportunity to go to back home. However, Coach Freeze was so indebted to ASU for the opportunity to be a head coach for the first time and the players for giving him a winning season that he parlayed his team into a better job that he took all his friends with him. The players were left with only three coaches and two graduate assistants. Not using this as an excuse but NIU won the game and no I am not bitter. ASU hired a better man to lead the team, Gus Malzahn and he seems to be someone who is a man of honor.
There is a point to this post: It is good to be a Red Wolf. I am proud of my school and of the administration. Life will always be difficult for a small school and unless your team is one of the real big boys of college football, you are a small school regardless of conference affiliation.
I love to watch the games, but it helps to have a team to root for. I already know I am rooting for Arkansas State, the rest of the Sun Belt teams (University of Louisiana-Monroe, University of Louisiana-Lafayette and Western Kentucky), West Virginia (lots of WVU friends), Oregon State (For Icabu) and Northern Illinois. I am so happy that I will consider rooting for Ole Miss and their ungrateful coach.
The rest of the games I don’t have a rooting interest yet. Who do you support? Give me a reason, any reason and I am there for you. I will wear the team colors, celebrate when they win and cry of they lose. Except Kent State of course. Hope ya’ll understand.
Enjoy the bowl season!