NCAA Committee delays plan to fill bowls with 5-7 teams
The NCAA football oversight committee will wait until next week to complete a plan for matching sub-.500 teams with bowls if there are not enough bowl-eligible squads to fill 40 games.
There are 71 teams that have won at least six games and secured at least a .500 record, the minimum for playing in the postseason. If nine more teams don't become bowl-eligible, losing teams would fill the remaining spots. Eighteen teams can reach bowl-eligibility over the next two weeks, including 14 that need one more victory.
Among the teams that need wins in their season finales are Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota. Also, Texas, Kansas State, Georgia State and Louisiana-Lafayette can become bowl eligible with two more victories.
"We will look at one more weekend of outcomes before finalizing," Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who leads the oversight committee, said in a text to the AP on Tuesday.
The number of bowl games has grown larger than ever as conference commissioners try to ensure that they will have postseason destinations for any of their teams that reach bowl-eligibility. The problem is 63 percent of the 127 FBS teams need to become eligible to fill all 80 spots, a higher percentage than ever before.
Some of the potential issues with 5-7 teams being made available to bowls could work themselves out.
The Big Ten goes into its final weekend of regular-season play with two fewer bowl-eligible teams than it has spots available in its bowl lineup. If there are not enough six-win teams in other conferences to fill those spots, those bowls would likely have 5-7 Big Ten teams made available for selection.
A criteria for sorting out which 5-7 teams get priority still needs to be worked out, along with which bowls would select first. The conferences could have a say in that, too. The NCAA created a safety net plan in 2012 that used the Academic Progress Rating as a way of making 5-7 teams bowl-eligible if there were not enough six-win teams to fill the bowls. That plan only covers the teams with the best APRs.
Football Bowl Association Executive Director Wright Waters has said that the bowls mostly want to make sure that if 5-7 teams end up in the postseason, the matchups are made giving consideration to geographical fit. Generally, lower-tier bowls prefer teams whose fans are within driving distance of the stadium.