After defeating Oregon State, the California Bears won their sixth game and became eligible for a bowl… right? Well, maybe not. Their first game was a win over FCS school Grambling State. However, Grambling has a scholarship issue that could keep the win from counting. Specifically, Grambling may not have enough players on scholarship for the win to count toward bowl eligibility. Normally, FBS teams can use one win against an FCS school toward the six. However, that FCS school must have awarded at least 57 of the 63 allotted scholarships during a rolling two-year window. In 2014-15, they offered the equivalent of 56.44 scholarships in terms of aid. Cal has already applied for a waiver in this instance, but if the NCAA denies the waiver, the Bears (6-5) would have to beat Arizona State (6-5) to become bowl eligible.
This brouhaha has turned some attention to the fact that there are probably more bowl games than the sports needs. There will be 40 bowl games – an NCAA record – in addition to the CFP title game, which need 80 teams to play in them. Going into Week 13 play, 71 teams (including Cal) have the six wins needed. Fourteen more could get there with wins this weekend. There are four teams sitting at 4-6 with two games to go. There is a protocol in place for 5-7 teams to get bowl bids if there are not enough six-win teams, but the better solution might be to have fewer bowl games.
There is about to be a lot of turnover in the NCAA football coaching ranks, particularly in the SEC. Gary Pinkel has been the coach at Missouri for 15 seasons and is retiring this year due to health concerns. Mark Richt has also been at Georgia for 15 years, and given the way his team played down the stretch, this would not be a surprise to see him out of his position. Les Miles is in his eleventh season at LSU but may be doomed given the brutal stretch the Tigers have put up this season. Steve Spurrier had been at South Carolina for 11 seasons but has already left town.
What does this mean? If they all leave? Nick Saban would become the longest-tenured SEC coach at nine seasons. Dan Mullen at Mississippi State has been there for seven years and appears to have earned himself a longer tenure. The lesson is that even when coaches succeed for long periods of time, things get a little bit stale or (in the instance of South Carolina) things just fall apart. Sometimes the staleness takes the form of eccentricities that become annoying, ain the case of Miles at LSU. The SEC is a tough conference for coaches, as just about every program expects their team to compete for titles. When you are in a gauntlet like this conference, though, maintaining dominance is just about impossible. Even a program like Alabama has a hard time emerging unscathed. With these coaching changes, next year’s SEC will be quite different.