The Bowl System is A Failure

Ben GrossCorrespondent IDecember 11, 2009

Don't blame Northern Illinois, blame the bowl system.

The Huskies made the right call to accept their fourth bowl in six years.

But the system that has put NIU into the postseason, is a failure. Simply put, this football team does not belong in a bowl game, but don't blame NIU, blame the system.

NIU’s opponents this year went 58-87; a winning percentage of 40 percent. But the Huskies didn’t beat a team with a winning record in 2009. In fact, NIU’s seven wins came against teams with a combined 17-66 record, a winning percentage of 20.5 percent.

The Huskies’ five losses were against programs that went 41-21, a winning percentage of 66.1 percent.

Compare these numbers to previous years, and you’ll see why the 2009 NIU squad does not belong in a bowl.

In 2004, NIU went 8-3 in the regular season .The Huskies’ opponents had a winning percentage of 44.8 percent. NIU’s eight wins came against teams with a winning percentage of 40 percent; its three losses were against programs with a winning percentage of 57.1 percent.

That season, NIU beat three teams with a winning record, including a 9-3 Bowling Green.

That team belonged in the postseason. The 2004 squad traveled to the Silicon Valley Bowl ,defeating Troy 34-21 .

Obviously, this year’s team cannot compare to the 2004 squad. A fairer comparison can be drawn to the 7-5 NIU team that went to the 2006 Poinsettia Bowl .

In 2006, NIU’s opponents had a winning percentage of 41.9 percent. The Huskies’ seven victories came against teams with a winning percentage of 25.9 percent. The five Huskies’ losses came to teams with a winning percentage of 63.5 percent.

These numbers are eerily similar to, but slightly better than, the 2009 NIU team. One large difference, however, is that the Huskies had a victory over a team with a winning record; an 8-4 Central Michigan squad in 2006.

This team sold itself to a bowl for two reasons: to make up for the shortcomings of the bowl system that left the 10-2 2003 Huskies out of the postseason and to highlight the nation’s leading rusher Garrett Wolfe .The result of this team in the postseason: a 37-7 loss to TCU .

But in 2009, as in 2006, NIU made the right call. When asked to go to a bowl, a mid-major must say yes.

Any system that allows 56.7 percent of teams into the postseason against teams that have not won a game against a quality opponent with a winning record, with games that draws little attention to no attention from crowds and forces programs to lose money, is a failed system.

NIU did what it had to do. If it said no to a bowl game, it's unlikely the Huskies would ever get asked again to participate. So NIU took advantage of a system that rewards mediocrity. The only question remaining is, what does going to a bowl game even mean anymore?