Thanks to Miami’s self-imposed postseason ban, Georgia Tech backed its way into the ACC championship game this Saturday against Florida State. The Yellow Jacket could potentially be to college football’s bowl season what UCLA was in 2011: a 6-6 team that loses its conference championship to finish the regular season 6-7. In such a case, GT would need to apply for a special waiver from the NCAA to go to a bowl game.
What’s interesting is that the NCAA’s Board of Directors approved a new process over the summer for selecting teams for bowl games in the event that there weren’t enough bowl eligible teams at the end of the season. That selection process was broken down into six “pools” and should actually make it more difficult for Georgia Tech to receive an exception to go bowling.
- First pool: Teams that finish 6-6 but would not normally be bowl eligible because they have a win against a Football Championship Subdivison team.
- Second pool: A team that has a 6-6 record but beat two FCS teams.
- Third pool: A team that finished with a 6-7 record, with the seventh loss being in a conference championship game.
- Fourth pool: A team that played 13 games but finished with a 6-7 record.
- Fifth pool: A team in the process of reclassifying to FBS football and has at least a 6-6 record.
- Sixth pool: Any top 5 APR team with a 5-7 record.
As you can see, Georgia Tech would fall into the third pool. As of tonight, there are 70 bowl eligible teams to fill all the slots for all 35 bowls. Pitt and UConn can also become bowl eligible this weekend with wins over South Florida and Cincinnati, respectively, bringing that total to 72 teams.
So even if Georgia Tech loses to Florida State this weekend — the Seminoles are expected to win — they’ll go bowling with a losing record while one or more bowl eligible teams stay home. Reportedly.
Updated 11:45 p.m. ET: The commissioner of the Mid-American Conference, Jon Steinbrecher, issued a statement Thursday evening regarding the NCAA’s decision to approve a bowl waiver for Georgia Tech should the Yellow Jackets finish the regular season 6-7. It’s likely one or more bowl eligible teams from a non-automatic qualifier conference will be staying home this bowl season while GT goes to a bowl game with a losing record. Here are Steinbrecher’s remarks:
“I could not disagree more with the rationale provided. One of the reasons for the development of the policy covering this matter was to clearly create a selection order to manage just this situation.
“These selection orders were developed with NCAA staff input and approved unanimously by the NCAA Board of Directors last July. To suggest that the NCAA staff or task force working on bowl policy did not contemplate such a circumstance, when this same situation occurred last year, is incorrect. The policy is clear and understandable.
“What is lacking is the willingness to enforce NCAA policy and that is regrettable. All the Mid-American Conference asks is that the rules that have been approved by the member institutions of the NCAA be enforced. That did not occur in this instance.”