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Minnesota Football - Bowl Selection or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Process

It can be a struggle, but letting go and letting things work themselves out isn't as hard as you think.

Gopher Athletics

It's easy to get frustrated watching the bowl selection process play out. After all, it's a process designed to reward things that are secondary to the results on the field. Things like attendance, travel history, TV ratings, and hype or buzz. The "business" of the bowl is given priority over the play of the student athletes the bowl is supposed to showcase. And when you're a Minnesota fan, this means bowl selection season is always a struggle between what you think the Gophers have earned and what they'll likely receive as a bowl bid. You lament and you grumble and deep down you know you're probably going to be let down by a system that doesn't care about the team you support. The whole thing leaves you feeling a lot llke Gil Gunderson, never able to catch a break.

I get it. I do. Why? Because I too have been annoyed by this for years (Alamo Bowl, you are dead to me). And that's why I'm urging everyone to join me in letting things play out without angst this year. At this point, there's nothing you or I can do. The regular season is over. There are no more games to show up for, no more bowl reps to impress. All that's left is for the blazers to decide what factors they care most about.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't care about where the Gophers end up. This is the team I care the most about so I obviously want them to have as much success as possible and earn as much success and recognition as possible. But this season I find myself strangely calm and collected through the process. I attribute this to the fact that the Gophers have had such a fun and surprising season. I've said it so many times by now, but ever since the Gophers reached 8-2 on the year I have really felt myself chill out and enjoy each moment for what it was rather than getting so wrapped up in what it might mean.

Over the weekend I broke away from that a bit. I engaged with FrothyGopher and others on Twitter about which bowl might be better for the Gophers and why. And coming out of that conversation I realized once again there there is too much beyond our control for me to get worked up over this. I mean, ultimately the Gophers are going to have their fate decided by two important things:

1) Whether the B1G gets two teams in the BCS

2) Whether a bowl wants to jump Michigan over the Gophers

On an related but separate level lies a discussion about where we want the Gophers to end up for a variety of factors such as TV exposure, most likely bowl victory, etc (which Matt will dive deeper into later this week in a separate post). As much as I usually find myself fascinated by the gamesmanship and rules that govern this process I just can't get worked up about it this year. It's not ambivalence. It's a strange sense of calm.

As I said on Twitter, for me it comes down to focusing on Brick by Brick. Getting a better bowl holds lots of opportunity but at least some downside depending on the opponent. A lesser bowl probably holds more certainty of success but less flash or buzz for the casual fan. But even if the Gophers are given the latter yet again, it doesn't derail Kill's plan for the program. What has already been accomplished by this team speaks for itself and where they end up at the end of this month or the beginning of the next won't detract from that. As long as the team practices hard and prepares, I truly believe that whatever they do in whatever bowl game they end up in will be a positive addition to the steps they've already taken.

Will I be disappointed if the Gophers end up in Dallas thanks to a single B1G BCS rep and a Michigan leapfrog? Of course. Will I feel like it's a slap in the face to the Gophers? No, because it would be a combination of what the team earned on the field and an honest assessment of the program's place in the pecking order, which is something I can understand even as I dislike it. Will I consider it a setback or loss for the program? Not at all. Because it's one more Gopher game I get to see, 15 more practices for Kill to improve the team, and a chance for the Gophers to end the year on a high note.

In the end, I view any bowl as a win for the Gophers and a cherry on top of an already solid season. A bigger bowl would be a bigger cherry, but that doesn't mean a lesser bowl win won't taste sweet.