Everyone saw the problem coming, there are a record 40 college bowl games this post season and not enough eligible teams to fill them. As of today there are only 75 bowl eligible teams in Division 1. With 80 total slots available the NCAA decided to restructure their standards for becoming bowl eligible.
On Monday the NCAA announced that 5-7 teams would be allowed to participate in post season bowl games based on their APR, or academic progress rates. To learn more about what exactly the APR is go can go here. In layman’s terms the APR is a point system devised by the NCAA to reward schools for having academically successful student athletes.
Why is this important to a Mountaineer team that is on the verge of an 8-4 season? Kansas State now falls into the eligible category based on their APR. Where just days ago it seemed the Wildcats would be playing for the chance to play in the post season it is now a foregone conclusion, the Wildcats are in if they so choose to be (Missouri declined a bowl invitation, it does happen).
The NCAA can not dictate which teams play in which bowls, that is left up to the conferences to decide. However, the NCAA does have the authority to determine eligibility standards.
With Kansas State being bowl eligible despite a potential 5-7 record their inclusion may force the Mountaineers to play their bowl game in Phoenix on January 2nd in the Cactus Bowl against a Pac 12 team.
Without the Wildcats being eligible it would keep the Mountaineers on the east coast, presumably in the Liberty or a little further west in the Texas Bowl.
The Texas Bowl is excited about the thoughts of a Texas Tech vs Texas A&M/ Arkansas matchup. The Russell Athletic Bowl is going to get a chance to take TCU or Oklahoma State. The only other option would be the Liberty Bowl which could now go to Kansas State.
According to Mike Casazza, “Bowl payouts concerning WVU: Russell $2.2M, Texas $3M, Liberty $1.4M, Cactus $3.3M. WVU would pay most to go to Cactus, bank most with Russell.” Essentially what this means is that it would cost WVU more to travel to Cactus than any other team to their respective bowls.
Yes, there is still the possibility of the Mountaineers staying close enough that fans will be able to easily make the trip, there is even a possibility this argument becomes void in the Mountaineers do not win on Saturday. However, at least be prepared to pack your bags for a longer flight.