A friend of mine on Facebook and one of my Twitter followers, Don Mouledoux, tagged me in a comment on Facebook last night to this story on ESPN. The story is about the possibility that Navy and their complicated bowl situation could throw a huge wrench in the entire bowl season. And if it happens, it could have a huge impact on Mississippi State’s approach to accepting a bowl bid.
Currently, the Navy Midshipmen are ranked 19th in the College Football Playoff Rankings. This is two spots behind Western Michigan, and it’s important because the highest ranked team in the Group of 5 will get an automatic berth in the Cotton Bowl.
Western Michigan will play in the MAC Championship Game this weekend. If the Selection Committee believes the Army-Navy game will impact the Group of 5 automatic qualifier, they will delay announcing who automatically qualifies for the Cotton Bowl until after the Army-Navy game has been played.
So why is this important, and how does it affect the Mississippi St. Bulldogs bowl destination? Here’s a quote from that ESPN story to answer the first part of that question.
Delaying the Group of 5's bid to the Cotton Bowl would affect many bowl games involving Group of 5 teams. Officials would have to delay placing teams in bowls without knowing whether a conference champion could get pulled up to the Cotton Bowl. Additionally, opponents in those bowl games wouldn't know whom they were playing in addition to the obvious logistic and financial issues involved with waiting another seven days before planning travel, buying tickets and other factors.
The bowl season begins Dec. 17 with five bowls -- all involving Group of 5 teams. Teams usually arrive to those bowl sites on Wednesday, Dec. 14, so those schools would have little more than a 72-hour turnaround between learning what bowls they are in and traveling to the sites. The short time frame would also likely affect fans' ability to travel and potentially hurt the communities hosting those games, sources said.
If Navy wins and Western Michigan loses this weekend, it will virtually assure the Committee will wait until after the Army-Navy game to make their decision on which Group of 5 team will play in the Cotton Bowl. One of the games the Bulldogs are being considered for is the Las Vegas Bowl. If things broke just right (like both Navy and Western Michigan losing), the Mountain West Champ, which is slated for the Las Vegas Bowl, could jump into the rankings and go to the Cotton Bowl.
If the nightmare scenarios play out, Mississippi State would not learn their bowl destination until after the Army Navy game on December 10th. If the Bulldogs were invited to the Las Vegas Bowl, it will be played on December 17th. This means State would have to travel to Las Vegas on the 14th. They would only have the 11th through the 16th to practice and prepare for the bowl game, and one of those days would be a travel day. Once they are in Las Vegas, they would have to participate in all the promotional events for the bowl. The team would probably only be able to get in about three or four days of practice.
If this plays out, there is a possibility the Bulldogs would turn down a bowl invitation. The reason most everyone was happy to get a bowl invite for this 5-7 season was the 15 extra practices for a team needing as much experience and practice time as possible. They simply won’t get that if they don’t find out their bowl destination until the 10th. The school might not deem it worth it at that point from a practice standpoint, not to mention the logistics of trying to sell their allotment of tickets and getting preparations to move hundreds of people in such a short window.
I’m not saying the school will definitely rule out going to a bowl if all of this occurs. They still might decide to go ahead and use the couple of days they would have and head out to Vegas. It’s also possible they could get an invitation to another bowl and make all of this a moot point. But Bulldog fans need to hope Western Michigan wins this weekend if they want to assure they don’t have to worry about any of this. And a loss by Navy in the American Athletic Championship Game would be nice as well.