Every FBS team is eligible to play in a bowl game in 2020.
The NCAA’s Division I Council announced on Wednesday that it has waived bowl eligibility requirements for the 2020-21 bowl season only. It also waived the minimum number of contests required for FBS teams.
Under ordinary circumstances, teams must have a .500 record to qualify for a bowl game (sometimes a 5-7 team will get a bowl bid if there aren’t enough .500 teams), but the Football Oversight Committee recommended getting rid of that rule for the current season, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to linger and cause the postponement and cancellation of games.
The pandemic also caused several conferences to have significantly reduced schedules. For example, Big Ten teams will play nine regular season games while Pac-12 teams will play seven games. Nearly all FBS teams play 12 regular season games during normal college football seasons.
“In keeping with the Division I membership’s desire to provide maximum flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council voted to allow as many student-athletes as possible the opportunity to participate in bowl games this year,” said Penn athletic director M. Grace Calhoun, the chair of the D-I Council. “The decision also provides some certainty for schools and coaches as we move toward the postseason.”
Back in September, the Division I Football Oversight Committee discussed the issue of postseason eligibility and ultimately concluded that it was important to provide as much flexibility as possible. Removing these parameters accomplishes that.
“Providing a more flexible framework for the postseason in this unprecedented time will provide some certainty moving forward,” said Shane Lyons, athletic director at West Virginia and chair of the football oversight committee. “These are important postseason opportunities for our student-athletes, and this will help everyone to prepare.”
The Football Bowl Association supported the initiative.
“The Football Bowl Association appreciates the efforts of the Division I Football Oversight Committee in recognizing the need for maximum flexibility this bowl season,” said FBA executive director Nick Carparelli.
As long as a school meets Academic Progress Rate requirements, it could technically be invited to play in a bowl game even if it is winless. There are currently 39 bowl games in place for this season, so only 78 of the 127 FBS teams playing will fill those slots.
The window for this year’s postseason games is Dec. 1 to Jan. 11.
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