So it was announced yesterday that both Tucson, Arizona and Little Rock, Arkansas are aiming to meet tomorrow's deadline for submitting applications for new bowl games to the NCAA.
First, I would just like to point out how humorous I find it that April Fools Day is the deadline for submitting your application for hosting a new bowl game. Though given how comical some of the newer and/or lower level bowls have been in some recent years, perhaps that is appropriate.
We now have three bowl games for the upcoming 2015 season that are in various stages of existence. They all create new opportunities for Group of Five teams, so let's assess just how good an idea they are.
2015 AutoNation Cure Bowl
So this one gets to go first because it is most definitely happening. It will take place on Dec 19th, 2015, making it officially the first bowl game of the 2015 college football post-season. It will be hosted in Orlando at the Citrus Bowl, which now makes three separate events at that stadium during bowl season.
I could prattle on for hours at a time at the nonsense that is branding things "The Cure" and/or using pink as an excuse to look like you give a shit about breast cancer research. I will say it again people - there is no need to continue to raise awareness for breast cancer.
Everyone not living under a rock knows about it, and the most astute of that crowd are aware of things like breast cancer already receiving two times more research funding than any other form of cancer despite being the third or fourth deadliest form of cancer, and despite the measly results that research has generated.
Many of them also know about how the vaunted Susan G Komen Foundation, one of the pioneers in this area, spends roughly one million dollars a year litigating against literally any charity that tries to use "for the cure" or the color pink as part of their setup.
If I see either team wearing anything pink in this game I will rip my hair out.
Anyways, had this bowl game happened this past season it would have featured Temple and Texas State (the only bowl-eligible teams from their conferences to not get an invite). That would have made for a great matchup, so I suppose I can give this one my blessing, as long as it doesn't eat away too far at either conference's depth of "teams worth watching in a bowl game." More on that later.
2015(?) Tucson Bowl
So this lovely little game, which appears to be not far behind (generally a game that has the backing of two conferences and a TV network will get the green light, and the same CBS Sports Network that will air the Cure Bowl is rumored to be on board for this one) would pit the Mountain West and Conference USA against each other.
What would that have meant? A bowl game at the University of Arizona featuring Middle Tennessee State (because we can't have controversial teams in bowl games) against probably Ohio University. That's right, in its first season the Tucson Bowl that is designed to feature a Mountain West team would have had no team from that conference to select, because the conference champion qualified for the New Years Six bowl and they already have seven bowl tie-ins.
Could MTSU against Ohio be a good game? Perhaps. Would it have been better than MTSU against Fresno State, the likely matchup if Boise didn't go New Years bowling? Perhaps. Are we starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel here? I believe so.
2015(?) Little Rock Bowl
So this little number, a bowl game that the city of Little Rock has apparently been chasing for several years, would once again feature the American Athletic Conference and the Sun Belt Conference. This could be good, right? I mean, Temple versus Texas State could have been a pretty sweet matchup, so what will we have here?
Well, nobody versus nobody if you're going with primary affiliations. If you go with "next team available" the matchup would have been UAB against either Ohio or Fresno State depending on whether Boise goes New Years. You see the problem we are reaching here.
There were only eight teams that reached bowl-eligible, six-win status last year and did not go bowling; three were first-year transitionals that could not participate either way, and either three or four more get snatched up by those first two bowl games. That leaves either one or two teams to fill two slots, which means the committees probably would have had no choice but to allow Georgia Southern to go bowling against UAB.
These bowls would add a 6th and 7th bowl tie-in for an American Athletic Conference that has yet to have more than six bowl-eligible teams in its first two years. Navy comes on board this year, but they also bring their own preset tie-in to the Poinsettia Bowl. That could be a bad thing for The American but a win for someone else.
For instance, the Sun Belt, who is finally coming out of the dark ages. The SBC has had more bowl eligible teams (4+) than available bowl destinations (3) for four straight years and five of the last six. Hell, two seasons ago every team but one in the conference reached eligibility. Now that they have definitely four and possibly five bowl connections that don't rely on other conferences not meeting their quota, we can finally get Will to shut up about Texas State.
Seriously, nobody cares that you and Dennis Franchione didn't get to kick it at a post-season bowl after party last year. Like the Cure Bowl would have been anything special - nothing good happens in Orlando anyways.