The Ball State Cardinals, the 12-0 Mid-American Conference champions, denied their invitation to play in the Humanitarian Bowl.The game would be against 12-0 Boise State, the Western Athletic Conference champions.
It would be played on Boise State's home blue turf, and would be one of the best matchups of the bowl season, since it would have been the only bowl matching up two undefeated teams.
But the game will not happen. The decision by Ball State not to accept the bid is a puzzling one. Did they expect a BCS bowl bid after playing one of the easiest schedules in the country?
Their opponents combined record is 54-88, and only three of the teams they played finished with a winning record. Yet, they are too scared to finally play some legit competition.
People have wanted to see all year if Ball State was for real. They were always the lowest ranked undefeated team throughout the year, and deservedly so, because they did not beat anyone good.
Ball State is embarrassing the MAC, achieving one of the best seasons in MAC history but then being to scared to play in the highest-profile bowl invite ever by a MAC team.
Ball State's athletic director Tom Collins said, "I think it would be great for television, but I'm not sure it's fair to our student-athletes to ask them to go out and play on Boise State's home field."
Who cares if it is technically an away game and not on a neutral site? What is the difference between that and any other away game the Cardinals have played all year?
Ball State has one of the top five quarterbacks in the country in Nate Davis, and this would be a great time for NFL scouts to see how he plays when he goes up against quality competition. Boise State has just three losses in the past three seasons, and in 2007 they upset Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
Ball State coach Brady Hoke and athletic director Tom Collins are making the team look like they are afraid to play quality competition, and are using the Boise State's home field advantage as an excuse.
If they had won this game, they would have been mentioned in the list of the top non-BCS schools in the country. Right alongside Utah, BYU, Boise State, TCU, and Fresno State.
The likely alternative for Ball State? Ball State may be invited to the Motor City Bowl in Detroit, to take on either Notre Dame or North Carolina State. If they win either of those games they will not prove anything, and if they lose to either of them all that they accomplished this season will be written off.
Notre Dame lost to Syracuse a few weeks ago, one of the worst teams in college football, and their fans started throwing snowballs at players. NC State is a .500 team that has won their last four. Either way, the competition is nothing compared to Boise State.
Ball State is making a mistake. To make it this far, representing the MAC, and to shy away from a major bowl bid shows they are afraid to take on college football's best, and that they will never be considered one of the best non-BCS programs.