UNLV, Air Force Academy, Football, Sam Boyd

With APR scares, are bowl games really in jeopardy?


Three schools are ineligible for postseason play in 2014, but more could be added to the postseason ban list. Idaho became the second team to be banned from the postseason next year due to low APR scores, joining UNLV. Penn State is entering year three of a postseason ban as part of the NCAA sanctions dropped in 2012. According to a report by Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com on Saturday, at least three more schools could be added to the list of APR casualties, which starts to take a dent in the total of teams hoping to play in a postseason bowl game next season.

But is the bowl schedule really at risk? Probably not. Every bowl spot should be filled, but the possibility of having to dive deeper into the pool to find teams could be a realistic scenario.

There will be 78 bowl spots to fill 39 bowl games in 2014. There were 79 bowl-eligible teams in 2013, including UNLV. As noted by Dodd, an average of just under 74 bowl-eligible teams per year over the last four seasons means the bowls are waking a thin line when it comes to having schools able to fill every spot. Conferences have had trouble filling all of their respective bowl spots in various bowl games, but there has not been a year where all bowl spots were unable to be filled before having to go to Plan B or Plan C.

If there are not enough bowl-eligible teams through normal standards (six wins), the bowls can move to invite teams with 5-7 records if needed. The eligible 5-7 teams would still be ranked by APR scores, with bowls required to go down the ranking. It is far from the most desirable method of course, but with 125 FBS teams and only a handful of schools failing to meet the APR standards, every bowl spot would be filled.

But the other problem here is pretty simple. Maybe there are too many bowl games.

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian

Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.