Five-win Tigers won’t accept bowl bid

Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune

The 2015 Missouri football team will not be going bowling.

Director of athletics Mack Rhoades said in a statement Monday the 5-7 Tigers would not accept a bowl bid.

“Following this weekend’s football games, there have been significant discussions nationally concerning 5-7 teams participating in bowl games,” Rhoades said. “After careful consideration, we have decided it is not in the best interest of our football program to seek permission from the NCAA to participate in a bowl game. Our focus remains on identifying the right leader for our program and moving forward with the transition process.”

The Tigers are in the process of hiring a successor to head coach Gary Pinkel, who is resigning because of health issues.

Also Monday, the NCAA released a statement clarifying how 5-7 teams would be given bowl bids. There are 80 bids available this season, but only 75 teams have six or more wins at the moment, and just three more have a chance to reach six wins this weekend.

Academic Progress Rates from the 2013-14 school year would be used to determine the bowl bids, the release said. Missouri’s APR of 976 is tied for second among five-win teams with Kansas State. Because Kansas State is one of the three that can still reach six wins and at least two bids would remain if the Wildcats won, Missouri would have received a bowl bid regardless of how this weekend’s games played out.

Rhoades quickly quashed that notion Monday.

Though accepting a bowl bid affords a team added practice time and increased exposure, bowl teams can also end up losing money by the time travel expenses and mandatory ticket purchases are factored in, according to a 2014 Forbes article. What’s more, the Tigers likely are not opposed to the idea of putting the 2015 season behind them, considering it ended with Missouri losing seven of its final nine games.

The fact the program is looking to hire a head coach for the first time in 15 years also could have complicated the matter — though teams currently involved in coaching searches such as Georgia, Miami, Memphis and Toledo will likely still play in bowl games.

Then again, those teams will receive better bowl bids than the bottom-rung bowls that were headed Missouri’s way. As recently as Monday, ESPN had Missouri projected to play in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl or the Camping World Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.

This will be the first season Missouri hasn’t gone to a bowl since 2012 and only the second time since 2004. Missouri teams reached a bowl game 10 times in Pinkel’s 15 years at Missouri, winning six of them.

Pinkel had said he would coach the bowl game if Missouri reached one, but multiple outlets reported Saturday associate head coach/quarterbacks coach Andy Hill was named the team’s interim head coach that day.

Pinkel declined to say whether he wanted to go to a bowl game at 5-7, hoping the Tigers could pick up their sixth win in one of their final two games against Tennessee and Arkansas. Players were split on whether they wanted to play in a bowl game at 5-7.

The NCAA’s release said a task force would be formed in January by the Football Oversight Committee to “study bowl eligibility in the future.”

“In its discussion, the Council recognized the NCAA does not manage bowl contracts, which are agreements between bowls and conferences,” the NCAA’s Greg Johnson said in the statement. “Accordingly, the Division I Football Oversight Committee will not be involved in the process of selecting teams to bowl games but will create a pool of teams that are eligible to be selected by bowls looking for teams.”

Nebraska is the lone five-win school — including schools with a possibility to reach five wins this weekend — with a better APR than Missouri (985).

Minnesota (975), San Jose State (975), Illinois (973) and Rice (973) sit below Missouri and Kansas State as five-win teams with the next-best APR rankings. According to ESPN’s Bretty McMurphy, all but Illinois, which was still undecided, said they would accept bids, as did Kansas State.

APR was implemented in 2003 and is defined by the NCAA as “an ambitious academic reform effort in Division I (to hold) schools accountable for the academic progress of their college athletes through a team-based report card that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete for each academic term.” It was first put in place as a means of determining bowl eligibility for 5-7 teams in 2012. However, no five-win team has made a bowl game in the three bowl seasons since.

The 40 bowl games this season are the most ever.



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