NCAA will be forced to adjust college football bowl eligibility standards if games are played in 2020


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College football picked a bad year to add to its ever-growing list of bowl games, but of course, nobody anticipated a worldwide pandemic would affect the 2020 season at the time. If bowl games are to be played beyond those controlled by the College Football Playoff, the NCAA will have to make an adjustment to the eligibility standards for participating in those games.

There are 41 bowl games scheduled for this season, up one from last year, following the cancellation of the RedBox Bowl. Assuming they can safely be played amid the coronavirus — yeah, I know about the danger of assumptions — that means 82 teams will be participating.

The current minimum standards for eligibility are a .500 record and six wins. 

The Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC have already done away with nonconference play, leaving each of their teams currently scheduled to play 10 games or fewer.  The ACC is going to play 10 conference games and one nonconference game, 11 total.  The Big 12 and Group of Five leagues have yet to announce any schedule adjustments.

It is not hard to see that there will not be nearly enough teams to fill 41 bowl games based on the current minimum standards.

The only adjustment the NCAA has announced so far is that teams may count two wins over FCS teams for bowl eligibility instead of the usual one. That does nothing for the four Power Five conferences that have already adjusted their schedules.

The logical thing to do in a situation where teams are neither playing enough games for the current standard to be met nor the same number of games they usually do is to drop the win total requirement and say anyone .500 or better is eligible.

It is still unlikely that will result in 82 bowl-eligible teams, but they can continue to fill in slots with sub-.500 teams as they have in the past, perhaps using winning percentage instead of win totals to determine the participants while breaking ties by APR as has always been the case.

This is not an issue where the NCAA is dragging its feet. There really is no rush to set a standard until schedules become final. The bowl games are not played until late December.

The NCAA will get there, and when they do, this will be the logical way to go.


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