Take 2: Should the NCAA grant GT a waiver?
November, 29, 2012
By Heather Dinich | ESPN.com
Grant Halverson/Getty ImagesGeorgia Tech wants a bowl-eligibility waiver in case it loses and finishes with a 6-7 record.BCS or bust.
How's that for pressure on Georgia Tech to beat Florida State in the ACC championship game on Saturday?
Unless Georgia Tech gets a waiver from the NCAA, the Yellow Jackets will not be bowl-eligible if they lose to Florida State in Saturday's ACC title game because at 6-7, they would drop below .500. They have applied to the NCAA for a bowl-eligibility waiver in the event of a loss on Saturday.
NCAA rules dictate that teams must be 6-6 or better to qualify for a bowl. However, with 70 bowl spots and the possibility of not enough teams qualifying with .500-or-better records this season, the NCAA's Board of Directors specifically outlined the selection process this summer for filling any remaining bowl spots not filled by eligible 6-6 teams.
The problem for Georgia Tech is there are currently 70 bowl-eligible teams. If the NCAA grants the waiver, Georgia Tech could take the spot of another deserving 6-6 team. If it doesn't, the NCAA will go against the precedent it set with a similar case last year with UCLA.
What should the NCAA do?
Depends, of course, on whom you ask ...
6-7 = losing record.
You can line up all the excuses you want. It's not their fault Miami and North Carolina are ineligible. It's not their fault they got into the ACC title game via the back door. It's not their fault they have no shot against Florida State.
Well, maybe Georgia Tech should have won more than the minimum six games to barely qualify for bowl eligibility. Maybe the Jackets should have beaten, oh I don't know, Middle Tennessee. Maybe they should have held on to fourth-quarter leads and beaten Miami (7-5). Or Virginia Tech (6-6). Or actually showed up to play BYU (7-5).
I don’t think that’s asking too much.
If Georgia Tech gets this waiver, another school is going to get punished. A school like Western Kentucky -- bowl eligible last year but left out because a mediocre UCLA team from a power conference whined and got its way into a bowl game despite going 6-7. That was a historic season for Western Kentucky, too, its first winning season since joining the FBS level. Back in 2009, that team went winless. In 2011, it finished 7-5 and was left without a reward for players who worked just as hard as the guys in Los Angeles.
The same scenario could unfold for the 7-5 Hilltoppers this season, stuck at home because they belong to the Sun Belt. And why? Because Georgia Tech plays in the mighty ACC?
Please. If Georgia Tech wanted to preserve its chances of going to the Hyundai Sun Bowl, it should have just declined a spot in the title game. Laughable, right? The ACC title game, of course, is much bigger and much more prestigious than any bowl the Jackets will end up.
So that’s why Georgia Tech should consider the ACC championship game its bowl game. This game is in primetime, on national television. It’s game No. 13 on the schedule, just like a bowl game. And a win would get them an opportunity to play in a bigger venue. Lose, and, well, Georgia Tech deserves to go home.
The Jackets already have gotten their postseason chance.
Heather Dinich: Just give it to ‘em.
It would be more embarrassing for everyone involved to prevent Georgia Tech from playing in a bowl game after qualifying for its conference championship game than it would to have a 6-7 team playing in, say, the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
If a 6-6 Central Michigan team can be deemed bowl eligible – not to mention Rice, Purdue and Iowa State -- a 6-7 Georgia Tech team should be eligible, too. Iowa State won three conference games. Rice was 4-4. So were the Chippewas. And they’re not exactly lining up against the likes of Florida State and Clemson. Georgia Tech at least finished 5-3 in league play, tied with Miami and North Carolina. A loss to a top-15 BCS opponent in a conference championship game is no reason to be banned from a bowl game.
More importantly, precedent has already been set. Last year, UCLA was in a nearly identical situation, as it played in the Pac-12 title game because South Division champion USC was not bowl-eligible. (Georgia Tech is playing because Miami self-imposed a postseason ban). The Bruins lost to Oregon in the conference championship to finish 6-7 but received an exemption from the NCAA to play in a bowl game despite their losing record.
The NCAA should be consistent in its rulings (no, really).
If the biggest argument against Georgia Tech receiving a waiver is that there are already enough bowl-eligible teams out there, and one of them shouldn’t be denied a bowl spot in favor of a team that requires a waiver, Georgia Tech’s rebuttle is simple: It’s not their fault they might need the waiver in the first place.
Georgia Tech should follow UCLA’s example and argue that the only reason they’re in the game is because Miami isn’t. Not their fault they got pushed in the back door and could drop below .500.
To think that Georgia Tech could play in the ACC championship game and not go to a bowl game is simply ridiculous. So is the assumption that Florida State is just going to roll right into the Discover Orange Bowl.
Believe it or not, there’s a good chance Georgia Tech might not even need this waiver. If it does, however, it should be granted.
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