It’s not that hard to reach a bowl game—this year, 78 NCAA football teams can claim they have. But one of them, traditional powerhouse Florida State University, failed to reach eligibility and will play in one anyway thanks to a shrugging NCAA.
What apparently is hard: figuring out whether a team is eligible to play in a bowl game, because just about everyone, save for sleuthing Redditor bakonydraco, missed that FSU has no right to play Southern Mississippi in the Independence Bowl on December 27.
FSU reached the bowl on the strength of their 6-6 record. But one of those measly six victories should not have counted toward their eligibility.
Their 6-6 record includes a win over Delaware State, an FCS program. For an FCS opponent to be countable towards bowl eligibility, the FCS program must have awarded at least 90% of the FCS scholarship limit. After our own investigation, we have determined and confirmed that Delaware State has not met the 90% threshold set by the NCAA. As a result, Florida State’s bowl countable record is 5-6, thus making them ineligible for a bowl game this season.
Delaware State shared their scholarship data with r/CFB, who determined the school used 87.008% of the scholarship limit, rendering FSU’s win over the Hornets irrelevant to bowl eligibility.
Three schools that were eligible to be selected to play in a bowl game will be watching from home while FSU plays in the Independence Bowl.
The NCAA, who gleefully punishes athletes any time they try to cash in on their talents prior to a professional career, said they won’t be replacing moneymaker FSU with Buffalo, Western Michigan, or UTSA, the teams that actually are eligible to play in a bowl game, to correct their more profitable mistake.
“Multiple bowl and industry sources said there’s basically nothing that can be done this late about the oversight, so FSU goes bowling while three other more deserving teams stay home,” reported Brett McMurphy.