With a 6-6 record every Bowl Championship Subdivision school has a chance to participate in the postseason. But a 6-6 record doesn’t guarantee a team will play in a bowl game.
The league has seven tie-ins with bowls: Rose, Capital One, Outback, Alamo, Insight, Champs and Motor City. The last two years the league has earned a second BCS berth, which gives eight Big Ten teams a chance to go bowling. Last year eight Big Ten teams played in bowl games, while Iowa and Northwestern — both 6-6 — missed the bowl party.
But the SEC and ACC each have nine bowl tie-ins, not counting the possibility of a second BCS bid. NCAA rules allow 6-6 teams (like Iowa in 2006) to automatically qualify for a bowl within league agreements. If a league cannot fills its bowl slots, then the at-large spot must go to a team with a winning record first. That allowed Middle Tennessee State to earn a Motor City Bowl berth over 6-6 Kansas in 2006 after the Big Ten couldn’t fill its allotment.
So far, Big Ten officials have rebuffed questions about expanding league bowl tie-ins, saying only that they’re happy with the current arrangement. But bowl expansion has rendered the college football’s postseason as worthless as some of the sponsored bowl names are long. If that’s the case, the Big Ten should set up arrangements with new or very low bowls to give its programs even more exposure. I’m sure the Congressional Bowl would like to bail out a mediocre Big Ten team if given a chance.
There’s a rumor that St. Louis wants to develop a lower-tier bowl involving the Big Ten and Big 12. That would make sense for both leagues. St. Louis is a prime recruiting area, and the game is in a dome. It’s accessible for fans who want to make a weekend drive. That would be a good choice.
If Conference USA has six bowl tie-ins, the Big Ten should have more than seven. It’s ridiculous to consider that a 6-6 Conference USA team could go bowling but an average Big Ten team will not. The time to take moral stands on bowl games ended 20 years ago. The Big Ten should belly up at the postseason indulgence bar and order every bowl on the menu.