This college football season was incredibly funky, and for the most part decision makers were just flying by the seat of their pants, trying to put together some semblance of a respectable campaign.
Rules were bent and twisted to accommodate certain programs via conference meddling, but the biggest injustice is Army being left out of a bowl game.
For background here, the Black Knights ripped off nine wins playing an independent schedule against the likes of Navy, Air Force, Tulane, and other opponents. They were original supposed to play a PAC-12 team in the Independence Bowl, but this happened, via ESPN:
“After a surge of Pac-12 teams opted out of bowl season and other teams, according to (head coach Jeff Monken), threatened to opt out if paired against Army, the Independence Bowl canceled its game and the Black Knights were left without a postseason destination. Monken and Army administrators informed the team following dinner at a 6:15 p.m. ET meeting.
“We had guys in tears,” Monken said. “We pulled off the biggest wins of these seniors’ career, they just won the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy back, that’s going to be their legacy, and they’re looking forward to playing in a bowl game one time together, before they go off in the United States Army, and we’re sitting here telling them, ‘Sorry, guys, you can’t play.'”
Army is an FBS independent team and not part of any conference, but they have an agreement to play in the Independence Bowl every other season if eligible. This year, the powers that be lifted the six-win minimum for bowl qualification but Army eclipsed that mark anyway with their 9-2 record.
What we have now is a situation where 3-7 Tennessee and 2-8 South Carolina are locked into bowls via conference affiliation, but nine-win Army gets dicked instead.
So what’s the solution? The best-case scenario is that another team opts out of a bowl and leaves a spot for Army, which is what they seem to be banking on:
Army didn’t receive a bowl bid, but AD Mike Buddie told @Stadium the Black Knights will fill in a bowl spot if needed. “If there are any teams w/COVID spikes this week we will be ready take their spot,” he said. “Anyone, anywhere.”
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 21, 2020
These seniors deserve to play a final game before leaving the football program to serve their country. Somebody with some pull needs to step up to the plate and find a way to fix this situation, because it’s the right thing to do.