ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)- Ok, so there’s still a chance the Missouri Tigers could officially become bowl eligible with a sixth win on the season Friday afternoon at Arkansas. But the difficulty the team has had down the stretch mustering an offensive attack doesn’t bode well in the matchup against the Razorbacks, who while only having one more win than Mizzou on the year, have scored 51,31, 53,63 and 54 points in their last five games.
The good news for fans who can’t get enough of the black and gold no matter what is that the team may still be selected for a bowl even if it can’t reach six wins.
This year there are 80 bowl games, a record number. But sitting here now, only 71 teams have qualified, and Missouri finds itself along with 14 other schools which could get there with a single win.
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.
The NCAA Football Oversight panel is supposed to help clear this up this week, so it’s possible that a solution is already in place before kickoff Friday for the Tigers.
For the sake of argument, let’s say MU ends the regular season at 5-7, and the NCAA & bowl overlords decide that the team deserves to go bowling. Would they? Should they?
The Gary Pinkel storyline could be attractive to some bowl officials, TV partners and die-hard supporters who would be willing to travel and buy tickets. How about a retirement bowl game against Virginia Tech, which is also currently ineligible and trying to send Head Coach Frank Beamer out with a bang?
Several players were likely going to submit their names for NFL draft consideration, and that number could rise with a pending coaching change. Will those players, or others who might be weighing a transfer, really be motivated for the trip?
And what about members of the current coaching staff, who have no idea where they’re going to be working next season. With all the talk of the remarkable stability and loyalty on the Pinkel staff at MU, you wonder if he invokes the “if you love them, let them go free” mantra so his assistants can fully focus on their futures and not feel obligated to juggle a job search with coaching at MU for an extra month.
Here’s one more wrinkle: If Athletic Director Mack Rhoades decides Defensive Coordinator Barry Odom is the man to take over the program, there could be a ton of value in using those bowl practices to retain key members of the existing staff and to recruit current players to stay.
Pinkel told reporters Monday that a bowl decision would be Rhoades’ to make, but that he’s still hopeful the Tigers take care of business on their own terms with a win Friday.