Bulls could know bowl fate Tuesday
If West Virginia beats Connecticut on Saturday as expected, USF should learn Tuesday where it will play its third-ever bowl game.
Will that be the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas? It's a strong possibility if the Bulls are ranked ahead of Cincinnati and Connecticut in next week's BCS standings. The Sun Bowl's selection committee is divided between what will likely be three 9-3 teams available to them, and John Folmer, chairman of the Sun Bowl's 10-member selection committee, said Wednesday that the solution to resolving that would be the choose the team ranked highest in the BCS standings.
Different cases can be made -- Bernie Olivas, the Sun Bowl's executive director, has lobbied for USF, arguing that if West Virginia is the league's champion and BCS team and the Bulls were the only team to beat the Mountaineers, he wants them. But the Sun Bowl is also a storied bowl whose tradition has been to yield to conference standings, so some members of the committee have argued that if Connecticut earned second place in the conference, the Sun Bowl should respect that by choosing the Huskies. Cincinnati, meanwhile, would boast head-to-head wins against the other 9-3 teams.
Folmer said if West Virginia wins Saturday, he expects the Big East to release the rest of its teams to the remaining bowls, and said the Sun would then announce its Big East team Tuesday, with the Meineke Car Care, Papajohns.com and International bowls able to follow in turn. Announcing a week earlier than most bowls can help with ticket sales and keep airfare costs down for traveling fans.
So just how will the BCS rankings shake out? Connecticut, ranked 20th in the BCS, would fall below No. 23 USF and No. 24 Cincinnati with a loss, but the Bulls and Bearcats are too close to know that USF would stay ahead by simply beating Pittsburgh. Two-thirds of the BCS standings are from the coaches and Harris polls -- the bottom five spots on those ballots are very volatile from week to week, so it'd be easy for another unranked team that makes a splash by beating a ranked team to leapfrog USF but not Cincinnati, widening the gap between the two schools in the polls.
And if the Bulls and Bearcats are within a single spot of each other in the BCS standings, that criteria might be deemed close enough that the committee steps back, sees identical overall and league records and looks to head-to-head competition, which had Cincinnati beating USF in Tampa.
Again, thoughts? Objections? By the time the BCS standings are out Sunday, USF should have a good sense as to where the Bulls will be bowling ...