Now the waiting begins for the BGSU football team. As we wait for the Mid-American Conference Championship game (and other league title games) to play out, here are a few thoughts on bowl bids and coaching searches ...
Currently there are 70 teams that are considered "bowl eligible" at this point in the season, including the Falcons thanks to their 8-4 record. If you remember that there are 35 bowls, hence 70 teams needed, you get a gold star.
OK, there are still THREE teams with bowl aspirations alive. One is Georgia Tech, which is 6-6 (meaning it is bowl eligible) but must play in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game against Florida State. If the Yellow Jackets lose, they fall to 6-7 ... and the rule is that a 6-7 team gets a bowl bid ONLY if there aren't enough other teams to fill the bowls. That obviously is not the case.
The other two teams are Big East schools in 5-6 Connecticut and 5-6 Pittsburgh. The Huskies face a tough test in Cincinnati but play at home, while Pittsburgh has an easier contest against South Florida but play on the road.
As these teams win, all three have enough "power" to knock out one bowl-eligible team. Who comes off the list? An obvious candidate is 6-6 fellow MAC member Central Michigan, but from there things get murky.
NOTE: Please don't start any arguments about "Bowling Green is obviously a better team that Team X," because that's not what drives the bowl debate. Selling tickets in a particular city, bringing fans to that city to see the game, and bringing fans to the television to watch the telecast are what drive this decision. Unless it's clear BG is better than a team in those three categories, well, there are no guarantees.
I had several Twitter followers say they thought BG was a shoo-in because they thought those teams wouldn't qualify. Pitt just knocked off Rutgers, UConn just upset Louisville. I'd say it's possible both teams qualify.
Also, several Twitter followers said they thought BG was a shoo-in over teams from the Sun Belt such as 7-5 Western Kentucky. If the bowl opening is, say, the Music City Bowl in Nashville, wouldn't you think Western Kentucky -- which is roughly 70 miles away -- would bring more fans that BG, which is roughly 450 miles away?
Ah, the bowl openings. Glad you asked. A big part of the conversation is pinned to which bowl has an opening. In no particular order, here are a few options ...
- Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl: This game is expected to have an opening because it takes the No. 6 team from the Big East, which only has four bowl-eligible teams. If Pitt and UConn become eligible, all bets are off. If a Big East team lands in the BCS bowl mix, BG's chances improve.
- R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: This game is expected to have an opening because it takes the No. 6 team from Conference USA. It helps that there already will be one Sun Belt team in this game (which likely would preclude a second Sun Belt team as an opponent), but I'm starting to hear that Rice is the likely opponent for Louisiana-Lafayette.
- Military Bowl: This bowl is wide open, because Army is not bowl eligible, and the Atlantic Coast Conference has only five bowl-eligible teams at this point (and this bowl has the eighth choice in the ACC). I would be willing to guarantee at least one MAC team will play in this bowl ... but which one?
- Independence Bowl: This game is expected to have at least one opening because it takes the No. 7 team from the ACC. I would be willing to bet that one of the Louisiana schools from the Sun Belt (Louisiana-Monroe?) gets the nod here so there can be a "home" team in a game played in Shreveport, La. As for the opponent? If the Southeastern Conference can't deliver, perhaps the MAC can.
- Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: This game is expected to have at least one opening because it takes the sixth pick of ACC schools. I haven't seen much about the potential for this game going to a MAC school ... but if Vanderbilt gets this bid (basically a home game), why not?
- BBVA Compass Bowl: Here is yet another bowl where one opening is possible because it takes the Big East's fifth-best school. The win by Ole Miss over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl Saturday really is a kick in the teeth to a potential MAC school filling, because I originally expected there would be two potential openings for a MAC school to fill.
- AutoZone Liberty Bowl: This one could have an opening depending on how many SEC schools are invited to BCS bowls. I have seen this bowl linked to MAC schools as a possible opponent for a Conference USA school.
So I've listed seven potential bowl openings. How many of those will be filled by MAC schools? No more than half is my guess.
I spanned the Internet to find a few bowl predictions for BG, and here's what I got ... ESPN's Mark Schlabach predicted the Beef 'O' Brady Bowl against East Carolina, while ESPN's Brad Edwards said the Falcons will play in the Military Bowl against Western Kentucky. ... CollegeFootballNews.com said BG will play in the BBVA Compass Bowl against Ole Miss. ... CBSSports' Jerry Palm predicted the Falcons would play in the Music City Bowl against Vanderbilt. ... The Orlando Sentinel's Matt Murschel said Bowling Green would play in the Military Bowl against Western Kentucky. ... And AthlonSports.com said ... the Falcons will not play in a bowl. They also predict Georgia Tech WILL play in a bowl (don't see how that's possible) and that Ohio will get a bowl bid in front of BG. Click here to see for yourself.
Finally, one "Hot-N-Ready" rumor for you ... and remember, this is just a rumor. What would you think about the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl inviting Toledo to face Bowling Green in a rematch of that September contest? Since the bowl won't have a Big Ten school in it, the best choices come from the Sun Belt ... and obviously aren't very appealing choices to a Ford Field audience. So what would you think about inviting TWO Mid-American Conference schools, both of whom have fan bases within an hour of the bowl?
A few caveats: Normally bowls shy away from rematches. Normally bowls shy away from having two schools from the same conference, especially when it's a rematch. And the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl has its pick of MAC schools, so it could pick Northern Illinois and/or Kent State (two appealing choices ... but would they sell tickets in Detroit? Especially after having played in the same stadium roughly three weeks earlier).
Again, just a rumor.
UPDATE ON THURSDAY, NOV. 29: Sources have told CBSsports.com that the NCAA soon will announce that Georgia Tech will receive a "legislative relief waiver" that would allow them to become bowl-eligible in 2012.
Long story short: Georgia Tech currently is 6-6, which means the Yellow Jackets would be bowl-eligible at this point. But because Miami decided to make itself ineligible for the post-season, Georgia Tech now will play in the ACC title game against Florida State. If GT loses, a 6-7 record would make them ineligible ... except for this waiver, which said, simply put, that it's not the Yellow Jackets' fault they are about to become bowl-ineligible.
What does this mean? That would mean there are now 71 bowl-eligible teams, meaning at least one of them will not play in the bowl. The general consensus is that 6-6 Central Michigan will not get a bowl bid because of this.
But things now become tricky, especially if UConn and Pitt win games this week to become bowl-eligible. Those two teams would knock other teams out of the bowl picture ... including, possibly, Bowling Green.
Now that the regular season has ended, the "silly season" of coaches being hired and fired begins. On Sunday four different coaches were fired: Colorado's Jon Embree, Purdue's Danny Hope, Boston College's Frank Spaziani and North Carolina State's Tom O'Brien.
That adds to the list of openings that also includes the head coaching position at Tennessee, Kentucky and Auburn ... with more probably to come.
I have seen a "list" of potential new coaches for the Purdue job that includes BG coach Dave Clawson, and I've got one thought: Slow down, big fella.
The Purdue opening is fresh. There are about 20-dozen names on the list. This is basically an effort where a writer throws as many names as possible up against the wall, hoping some will stick.
In short, let's allow the process to play out a little bit before we attach Clawson's name to it -- or, for that matter, the name of any hot MAC coaching property. And there are plenty of those, so don't be surprised to see names like Kent State's Darrell Hazell, Northern Illinois' Dave Doeren, Ball State's Pete Lembo or Toledo's Matt Campbell named as a potential hire for a number of different jobs.