Yesterday, I was reading an article (caution: Dodd alert) about the APR casualties this season, which according to the article is projected to be at least five (!) teams this season that don't meet the minimum academic standards for post-season play. #culture
The article goes on to point out that there are also a record number of bowl games this season (39 in 2014; 35 in each of 2010-2013). This means that 76 teams (the NCG teams will technically play in two bowls) will need to qualify to fill the bowl season allotment. In 2013, a record 79 teams were bowl-eligible. Penn State would have made 80. In each of 2010-2012, only 72 teams were bowl-eligible. Assuming that 2013 was an outlier, and not the new rule, then 2014 could be the first season in which bowl committees will be forced to consider teams with losing records for post-season representation.
It is no secret that Penn State's bowl ban could be overturned as early as this summer. Penn State is normally a staple of post-season play that could be poised for a record bowl-season turnout if re-instated. Facing the sure-fire black eye that would come with inviting losing teams to post-season play, is it possible that the NCAA would attempt to mitigate this disaster as much as possible by overturning the sanctions early, all-the-while saving face under an increasing public scrutiny over the validity of the sanctions in the first place? In other words, would the NCAA cave on its position of moral high-ground in an attempt to make their on-field product more profitable?
Now, assume that five teams are banned from post-season play, and assume that Penn State is deemed bowl-eligible for the 2014 season. Lastly, assume that Penn State earns a winning record on the field this fall, and is extended an invitation to play in a bowl game over a team with a losing record.
Should Penn State accept the invitation, knowing that at some level the invitation itself could be contrary to the type of behavior the sanctions were meant to correct? Or should Penn State willingly continue to wear this Scarlet Letter as a badge and beacon, whereby seizing the opportunity to set the example that on-the-field results do not preclude accountability for one's actions, at the cost of further punishing an innocent staff, team, and community? Or would you believe that the NCAA overturning the sanctions would be completely unrelated to the very real possibility that there will not be enough bowl-eligible teams without Penn State?
What say you?