Bowl qualifications may be adjusted to add losers

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - When asked on a recent conference call about a team with a losing record receiving a bowl invitation, Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone said he was unaware of such a situation _ his focus was entirely on getting the Orange bowl-eligible.

That could end up being easier than Marrone originally thought. The NCAA’s football postseason licensing subcommittee might have to alter eligibility rules for playing in the postseason depending on how the season plays out. There are 35 bowl games this year and there’s a chance not enough teams will meet the current criteria.

“The committee has begun to discuss the situation and has a host of options if the circumstances arise,” committee chair by Nick Carparelli, Jr., an associate commissioner of the Big East Conference, said this week.

In April, the NCAA added another bowl game, bringing the total to 35. That means 70 teams will have to meet the current qualifications to participate, which are six wins, including five against teams from Division I’s top level, the Football Bowl Subdivision.

“History has dictated that there will be 70 or more bowl-eligible teams. That was the basis of certifying 35 bowls,” Carparelli said. “I think the scenario certainly crossed our minds. However, the directive from the commissioners was to certify bowl games provided that the historical data from those conferences proved that they could be supported.”

Sometimes, history just doesn’t repeat itself.

FBS teams usually schedule teams from the second tier, the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) because they want the best shot at getting the minimum six victories needed to play in a bowl, which also offers extra practice time that coaches relish.

According to NCAA statistics, in 2009 FBS teams were 89-5 against FCS teams, and at the end of the season there were 71 bowl-eligible teams for the 68 bowl berths.

It didn’t take long for the NCAA to realize that this season might not follow form. James Madison, an FCS powerhouse, upset then-No. 13 Virginia Tech in early September.

So far, FBS teams were 67-6 against the FCS through games of Sept. 25. With only 17 more such games remaining, that means the most wins that FBS teams will have against the FCS is 84 _ or five fewer than last year.

Now, it’s a simple waiting game.

“I don’t believe the committee will wait until the end of the season, but being only four weeks in, the committee isn’t prepared to make a decision,” Carparelli said.

Still, it’s certain that no bowl games will be canceled, and if not enough teams meet the current requirements, 12-game schedules would leave open the possibility of a team with a 5-7 record going to the postseason.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney doesn’t know what to think about that.

“My job is to get us to a bowl game. That’s for other people to worry about,” Swinney said. “It seems a little odd to me that you could have a losing season and go to a bowl game. I wouldn’t feel really good about going to a bowl game with a losing season.”

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