The NCAA football oversight committee is expected this week to provide guidelines for matching bowls with sub.-500 teams if there are not enough bowl-eligible squads to fill the record 80 postseason spots available this year.
Bowl officials are hoping the committee, which is led by Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, can provide some order to a potentially disorganized situation.
"I think we'll still get to 80. If we don't, I have confidence the NCAA will work out all of those details," said Wright Waters, executive director of the Football Bowl Association.
There are 71 teams that have met the minimum bowl-eligibility requirement of six wins and at least a .500 record in 12 games going into the final two weeks of the regular season. Nineteen more teams can still reach bowl eligibility, 15 need one more victory. Texas, Kansas State, Georgia State and Louisiana-Lafayette need to win their final two games.
Among those teams that are a victory away are Virginia Tech (which plays Virginia), Illinois (No. 17 Northwestern), Missouri (Arkansas) and Washington (No. 20 Washington State).
The ever-growing bowl lineup reached 40 this offseason, not including the College Football Playoff championship game. That means 63 percent of FBS teams will play in the postseason, more than ever before.
In 2012, the NCAA was asked to come up with a safety net plan to fill all the bowls if there were not enough teams that met the minimum requirements. The protocol allows 5-7 teams to play in the postseason if they are among the top five schools in the NCAA's Academic Progress Report for the most recent season recorded. Those teams (Wisconsin, Northwestern, Duke, Michigan and Stanford) are already bowl eligible.
Waters said the expanding bowl lineup comes from demands on conference commissioners from their members to have a postseason spot for every eligible team. Last season 61 percent of FBS finished bowl eligible and not all of those teams played in bowl games.
"The pressure on commissioners to get as close as they can to have all their teams taken care of brings us to the brink of Armageddon," Waters said.
Temple, for example, went 6-6 last season and was left out of the postseason because the American Athletic Conference did not have a spot in its bowl lineup to accommodate all its eligible teams. American Commissioner Mike Aresco responded by creating new games to add to the league's bowl inventory.
The oversight committee will not only have to determine which teams with losing records will be allowed into the postseason, but bowl officials are also hoping for some guidance with a selection process. It is likely that the bowls will need to take teams from conferences with which they are not affiliated.
Bowlsby declined comment until the committee had worked out some solutions.
Waters said it is important to find a way for teams to be matched with bowls in their region.
"I think's that's the challenge Bob's committee is facing," Water said. "I don't think anybody wants to send a team from one side of the country to the other side of the country. Especially if you're talking about a team that's less than .500. We've been studying it in the FBA for a couple years now and we know that regional teams, compelling games and hungry teams are what work best in bowl games.
"There's a lot of challenges to Bob's group"
This article was written by Ralph D. Russo from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.