There are now a total of 35 bowl games in which NCAA Division I football teams can compete for their postseason play. Seventy teams will receive bids to play in these games, some of which will enter their respective bowl games with a .500 record at 6-6.
Due to the overwhelming parity in Division I football this season, it may be possible that for the first time in the history of the bowl games, some bids may be issued to five-win teams.
It is hard to fathom how a team with a losing record should be given a bid to play in the postseason.
Sure, the occasional losing team makes the NCAA basketball tournament, but only after a huge run in their conference's postseason tournament, often winning as many as five games in a row.
Some college baseball teams can squeak into Regional tournament play with a losing record, but only in regions of the country where the play is generally weak.
College football teams play 12 games on average, and at the most, a 13-game schedule. Losing more than half of these games does not equate to success by any measure. Rewarding a team that wins only five of 12, or five of 13 games reflects poorly on the reputation of the bowl issuing the bid to these programs.
It also reflects poorly on the program accepting a bid after winning only five games. Why would an athletic department choose to reward its players for a losing season, apart from the draw of the bowl's payout?
Should Five Win Teams Accept Bowl Bids?
There are a few high-profile football programs which fall into this 5-7 category for the 2010 season, including Texas, Washington and Oregon State.
The Texas coaching staff, led by Mack Brown, has already stated that the decision on whether to accept a bowl bid would be left to a player vote. Texas was likely on the radar of several bowl selection committees entering the 2010 season, so it is certainly reasonable to believe that a bid could be forthcoming.
The players will likely vote to accept a bid to allow the seniors to have one final game, and the chance to end their careers on a winning note. Many have also suggested that another postseason game would be beneficial for the young Longhorn quarterback, Garrett Gilbert.
Considering the highly disappointing 2010 season for the Longhorns, accepting a bid to reward the players for a losing season sends the wrong message to the community of fans, recruits and alumni.
The payout for the bowl would be nice to further line the coffers of the athletic department budget, but at a substantial cost to the program's reputation.
Not much word has come out of Washington or Oregon State as to their intentions should a bid come their way. We will likely hear something similar to the Texas line when the time comes.
Any of these teams could reasonably be given bowl bids due to their traveling fan bases, alumni support, brand recognition and overall high profile. Especially by new bowls looking for a big name draw to what may otherwise be an afterthought.
For a program to accept a bowl bid after a losing season, that program is admitting that this level of performance is acceptable.
As we all know, in the high stakes and high dollar world of collegiate athletics winning less than half of your games is certainly not acceptable, so, to ensure that no mixed messages may be imparted to the players, fans, alumni or the university community, teams with five wins should not accept bowl bids.