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Klaus: Bowl-eligible ain’t what it used to be

| Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Following conference championship games this weekend, college football will culminate once again this winter by embarking on its annual series of bowl games.

As has been the case several times in recent years, this year’s bowl slate will include an increase in games and, consequently, an expansion of the number of teams competing. To be exact, this bowl season will offer invitations to a mind-boggling 80 teams that will be playing in a record 40 bowl games.

That’s just too many.

Of course, it is clear why the number of games continues to increase — money — and I understand this is the reason why the system will likely only continue to grow no matter how absurd it becomes. Likewise, I recognize any argument against expanding the bowl system based solely on the implied sanctity of existing bowl games is equally ridiculous; nothing about a system that already includes bowls named after Idaho potatoes and other bizarre sponsors is inviolable.

Nonetheless, there is no denying the absurdity of this year’s schedule, which, due to a combination of the record number of available slots and a lack of .500 FBS teams, will include multiple teams boasting 5-7 records.

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I have no interest in watching postseason games featuring teams that haven’t even amassed enough victories to unequivocally call themselves mediocre. And while it is always precarious to cite the sanctity of bowl games, it is incomprehensible as to how a 5-7 team can logically be deemed deserving of any type of postseason opportunity.

An example of an undeniably undeserving team that will likely be included in this year’s bowl season is Kansas State, who, whether or not they win their final game on Saturday, is expected to receive a bid despite only currently having five wins. In “earning” their spot in a bowl, the Wildcats best win (barring a victory against West Virginia on Saturday) will have been a triple overtime victory at home over Louisiana Tech of Conference USA. The remainder of Kansas State’s wins include FCS foe South Dakota, 3-9 University of Texas-San Antonio and Big 12 bottom-feeders Iowa State (3-9) and Kansas (0-12). Owners of this pedestrian set of wins, the Wildcats will nevertheless likely be given the opportunity to raise a trophy at season’s end. Similarly, many of the other teams that currently sit at 5-7 have accumulated the bulk of their unimpressive win totals against teams that are, simply put, dreadful.

That the protocol for selecting 5-7 teams after the rest of the slots are filled is based on Academic Progress Ratings (APR) is perhaps the only reasonable part of the equation. Still, it is very difficult to make a compelling argument in favor of including teams in any form of postseason play that have had limited success during their regular seasons.

Unfortunately, this extremely comprehensible notion has been and will continue to be completely disregarded in favor of the monetary opportunities that enlarging the field of bowl games presents.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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