The Sun Belt Conference had more teams eligible for bowls than it had bowl spots. While that may be a good problem to have, it's still a problem. So the conference took the step of offering the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl and the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl money to select a Sun Belt team.
Neither bowl took the conference's offer.
"And during the past several weeks, I have been in discussions and negotiations with all the bowls that might be open. Specifically, the Sun Belt targeted the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl and Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl and was in negotiations with both up until final decisions were made," Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson said in a statement.
"The Sun Belt Conference Presidents and Chancellors authorized me two weeks ago to use Sun Belt funds at my discretion to entice both bowls to take a Sun Belt team. As a result, the Sun Belt made very significant financial offers to both bowls that clearly exceeded anything the Sun Belt has done in previous years."
The Sun Belt has deals with the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and the GoDaddy.com Bowl. But the conference had seven teams that were eligible for bowls (out of eight overall). Louisiana-Lafayette was selected for the New Orleans Bowl while Arkansas State was chosen for the GoDaddy.com Bowl. The two finished tied for the conference title at 5-2 in the league.
The Little Caeser's Bowl is Bowling Green vs. Pittsburgh while the Independence Bowl is Arizona vs. Boston College.
Here's where it gets dicey for the SBC. There were nine teams that were eligible for bowls this season that were not going to get picked for a bowl, simply because there weren't enough bowl slots. They are Western Kentucky, Toledo, Florida Atlantic, Central Michigan, San Jose State, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy, and Louisiana-Monroe.
Five of those -- Western Kentucky, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy and Louisiana-Monroe -- are Sun Belt teams, though only Western Kentucky was above .500 at 8-4. All the others were 6-6. As much as we understand the Sun Belt's frustration, the college football world doesn't need more 6-6 teams going to bowl games.
The league hopes that this won't be an issue next year. It has deals with the new Camellia Bowl, Bahamas Bowl and Boca Raton Bowls.
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- Sun Belt Conference