There are a lot of projections and a few are even good.
Some are not so good, even if they are ESPN projections. There is very little to do while we wait for the CUSA championship game, and so the void is filled with projections, rumors, message board posts from guys and so on.
Thankfully we have intrepid NT Daily man Reece Waddell out here asking some questions of folks who can make these decisions. We got this:
Baker says if he had a choice, it would be Heart of Dallas. If they can't get a local bowl, wants to go somewhere players can have fun. https://t.co/QhXJQIJAdm
— Reece Waddell (@ReeceWaddell15) November 30, 2016
— Reece Waddell (@ReeceWaddell15) November 30, 2016
The HOD folks like what NT brought the last time they earned eligibility, bringing the majority of 38K+ to the game. An NT v Navy game (Navy has an invite to the Armed Forces Bowl, but it can be negated if they receive a Big Six Bowl invite) would be one of the better-attended games. The bowl gets about 40K per contest, and this should be no different. Navy will bring fans and North Texas will also, even if the hype around the team isn’t as great as it was in 2013 following an 8-win regular season.
Despite NT’s performance against Army, Navy will likely roll all over the Mean Green. It will not be pretty.
Implications for Other Bowls
The HOD Bowl is a great bowl for everyone. The historic location in a great city that doubles as a lucrative recruiting ground makes it great.
CUSA allows the winner of the title game to choose their own adventure, as it were. Louisiana Tech likes the HOD bowl for the DFW location, and played in the game in 2014. Right now the projections suggest Mississippi State as the opponent. That is something I imagine will pique the interest of their administration. Then again, things are always a bit weird there.
If La Tech were to choose the Independence Bowl and WKU decided Boca Raton was the move, HOD maybe takes NT or listens to the random UTSA fans tweeting at the HOD account about that. That seems like a long shot.
Barring a Texas getting in, I do not know if the Armed Forces / HOD has a better choice than choosing NT to fill one of the positions.
I agree with Wren Baker. The HOD and Armed Forces — heretofore not an option, I thought — would be great. The former for obvious reasons and the latter (in addition to being local) would provide NT with the chance to play at TCU’s home — Amon G. Carter — and I think that is a fun little get-back.
The bowl selection process for the non New Year’s Six / CFB bowls is not as clear cut as we would like. There is always a way to get out of conference affiliations and things, especially when discussing 5-7 teams. Because CUSA now has 6 bowl eligible teams for all 6 bowl slots, everything is mostly set barring the Independence Bowl coming free. Of course WMU or Navy could change everything, pushing teams down the pecking order and sending NT to the Cure bowl or something.
Assuming the CUSA-affiliated bowls and the teams eligible choose mutually beneficial bowls, UTSA and La Tech are basically the choices for the HOD committee. Louisiana Tech gets first refusal, and the La Tech president has already stated this is his first choice. UTSA would then go to the New Mexico bowl to fulfill the CUSA affiliation. The way around this, as Darrell Williams, publisher of Rowdy Report tweeted:
This is what I see happening. But if Armed Forces really wants UTSA they could reach a deal with C-USA to effectively make it 7th tie-in. https://t.co/YtGnIGN68l
— RowdyReport (@RowdyReport) November 30, 2016
When UTEP is not bowl eligible, the New Mexico bowl is not the obvious choice for any CUSA team. UTSA fans want the HOD bowl for the same reasons we do — the ones in the original post above. From all indications, the HOD bowl folks enjoyed our previous business with them, and want to continue that relationship. I am sure the HOD folks would love to have UTSA some other time, but right now there is no reason for them to take the extraordinary action to bring them into the Armed Forces. It is possible, just unlikely based on what I have read.
While they will not say it, I imagine the committee likes UTSA’s season, but has no idea of what they will be like as a bowl invitee. NT did a great job bringing out fans to the last one, and drew decent TV ratings for the times lot on ESPNU. It beat out Nebraska-Georgia on ESPN at least. College football partisan bias aside, I cannot see the business decision of moving small mountains for UTSA other than to avoid having NT get destroyed by Navy. Navy will be favored to destroy anyone with the way they are playing though.
Navy’s offense in November was absurd. The Midshipmen took the field 40 times and scored 29 touchdowns and one field goal. They turned the ball over on downs twice, ran out the clock to end the half six times, and punted only twice. If we strip away garbage time possessions, the numbers are even more impressive. Navy’s offense had 31 non-garbage possessions in November and scored 26 touchdowns, a ridiculous touchdown rate of 83.9 percent for the month.
Obviously, we’ll know more soon. I feel good about NT’s chances in a local bowl after thinking it through. Still, I am just glad to be bowling.