The Gophers are headed to Detroit at the end of December for a matchup with the Central Michigan Chippewas in the Quick Lane Bowl. But there are a lot of people looking down at the Gophers with disgust today. Kirk Herbstreit, in particular, slammed the decision to allow 5-7 teams to go to a bowl game.
I think ALL 5-7 teams should be removed from consideration. Ridiculous reward for a disappointing season!!! https://t.co/VWiGJE48Z5
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) December 6, 2015
More than a few Gopher fans on Facebook and Twitter -- and even this blog -- have not been shy about voicing their displeasure over this program accepting a bowl invite with a sub-.500 record. So to help these members of our fan base work through their pain, I've assembled a list of FAQs that I think will shed some light on the Gophers' decision to play in the Quick Lane Bowl. Let's get started.
Question: The Gophers finished the regular season with a losing record of 5-7 (2-6 in the Big Ten), one win short of bowl eligiblity. By all accounts, this season was a failure and a disappointment. Why not have some pride, recognize that this team doesn't deserve to go to a bowl, and decline the invite?
Answer: Because pride has nothing to do with it. Here is what a bowl game represents: 15 extra practices for the team, a road trip and fun bowl game experience for the players, and one more game for the senior class. With 41 bowl games in all, the idea of a bowl game being a reward for a successful season is dead. I mean, if the Gophers had pulled out just one more win and finished 6-6, would that one win have been the difference between success and failure for you? Unless you're playing on New's Year Eve or later, a bowl bid simply extends your season one more game. Nothing more. Let's not glorify bowl games here, because bowl games prior to New Year's Eve lost their luster around the time the Gophers went to the MicronPC.com Bowl.
Put simply, a bowl game is a chance for your team to get better and get more game experience. What program is going to turn down that opportunity? You'd need a more compelling reason than "pride" to convince a head coach to decline a bowl bid. Because had the Gophers turned down the chance to go to a bowl, another team would have been waiting in the wings to accept it. The bowl sponsors aren't going to cancel. They're going to find someone to fill that bowl spot. Why not the Gophers? Nebraska, a program that a lot of people would consider to be superior to Minnesota, had no qualms accepting a bowl bid after a 5-7 season.
Q: "Why not the Gophers?"? Because the Gophers don't deserve to go to a bowl game!!! Why can't you understand that???
A: Please lower your voice. In terms of performance on the field, I can't argue that the Gophers deserve to go to a bowl game. The schedule was brutal at times, but the Gophers knew they needed a sixth win to go bowling and couldn't get it done. In a perfect world, they'd be watching the Quick Lane Bowl from home this December. But you see, there are a lot of bowl games. Too many, in fact. And not enough teams with a .500 record or better. So what now? I've already covered the fact that the bowl sponsors won't cancel. So a few 5-7 teams are going to have to go bowling. How did the NCAA decide which 5-7 teams would receive invites? Academic Progress Rate. Crazy, right? To base the decision on academics? It can be easy to forget that these are student-athletes we're dealing with. Kudos to the NCAA for remembering that. The Gophers may not have deserved to go bowling based on their play on the field, but I have no issue with them being rewarded for their work in the classroom. And with how little these student-athletes benefit from the excesses of modern college football, are you really going to flip out over a 5-7 team sending their players to Detroit for a couple days?
Q: You keep talking about these 15 extra practices, but the Gophers went to a bowl game last year and those extra practices didn't help at all this season.
A: Not a question, but I'll field this one anyway. Going to a bowl game does not guarantee that the next season will be a successful one. But you're going to tell me that you'd rather your team sit around and do nothing all December long than spend it out on the practice field? All because there is no guarantee that those practices will lead to an improved product the following year? With that logic, might as well turn down a bowl game every year. College Football Playoff or Rose Bowl or bust, I guess.
Q: This is pathetic. Totally undeserved. Embarrassing! Have some pride and show some class, Tracy Claeys. No integrity. This program is a joke.
A: You did say you were a fan of the Gophers, right?
Q: Will Demry Croft at least be the starting quarterback for the bowl game? Mitch Leidner must go.
To recap: Do the Gophers deserve to be in a bowl game? No. Do I have a problem with them accepting an invite? No. Are you required to attend or watch the game? No. Does it speak to the self-loathing nature of our fan base that we're upset about a bowl bid? Probably.
Any more questions?