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Big East bowls: not as muddy; USF damages Sun Bowl’s shot at Notre Dame

Posted Nov 24, 2008 by Brett McMurphy

Updated Nov 24, 2008 at 02:34 PM

First, I’ll cut to the chase: USF is now locked into the St. Pete Bowl.

Now the bad news for Jim Johnson. Sorry, Jim, I was actually right for once. I won’t retract my apology, but it turns out the “two-win” overall rule concerning Notre Dame’s bowl eligibility only involves the Gator Bowl and does NOT involve the Sun Bowl. That comes directly from Big East associate commissioner Nick Carparelli.

Because there has been a lot of misinformation about the Big East bowl situation, especially concerning Notre Dame, I had a chance to speak with Carparelli before the USF-UConn game Sunday night to clear it up once and for all.

I had previously been told by Big East and bowl officials earlier this year that Notre Dame could – and could not – get a Big East bowl if the Irish finish 6-6.

With 100 percent certainty, here is the Big East’s bowl situation concerning Notre Dame, according to Carparelli.

First off, USF is very, very fortunate to have beaten UConn. Because if the Bulls had lost to UConn and West Virginia, Notre Dame could have still been selected by the Sun Bowl. However, since the Bulls got their seventh win, the only way Notre Dame (6-5) can get to the Sun Bowl is by (a) upsetting USC Saturday or (b) Rutgers (6-5) losing at home to Louisville on Dec. 4.

The reason 6-6 Notre Dame wouldn’t be able to go to the Sun Bowl is because if the Big East has six seven-win teams to fill its six bowl games. The Sun Bowl is not allowed, by NCAA rules, to select a six-win Big East team (including Notre Dame) if a seven-win team is available. The Big East currently has five seven-win teams (Cincy, Pitt, West Virginia, UConn and USF) with Rutgers one win away from its seventh win.

And remember, Notre Dame is only available for the Gator or Sun and not any other Big East bowls. Clear as mud, right? Good, I’ll trudge on.

So here are the latest, up to date, and accurate scenarios, and of course, my predictions, for the Big East bowls:

Scenario 1: USF finishes 8-4 or 7-5. The Bulls are headed to the St. Pete Bowl whether they win or lose at West Virginia. It doesn’t matter what happens with any other Big East teams winning or losing. It’s that simple: a 7 or 8-win USF goes to St. Pete Bowl. USF bowl: St. Pete

Scenario 2: Rutgers (6-5) beats Louisville on Dec. 4 and Notre Dame (6-5) loses at USC Saturday. Notre Dame is eliminated from Sun Bowl contention and the following six Big East teams (Cincy, Pitt, West Virginia, UConn, USF and Rutgers) will be selected for the six Big East bowls. My prediction: Cincy wins Big East goes to Orange Bowl, Gator selects Nebraska (or another Big 12 team), Sun picks West Virginia (thinking that WVU defeats Pitt and USF), Meineke Car Care picks Rutgers, picks UConn, International picks Pitt and St. Pete picks USF.

Scenario 3: Rutgers loses to Louisville and Notre Dame loses at USC. Cincy, Pitt, WVU, UConn and USF are guaranteed Big East bowls (because they all have seven wins), while Notre Dame can go to the Sun Bowl. My prediction: Orange (Cincy), Gator (Nebraska/Big 12), Sun (Notre Dame), Meineke Car Care (West Virginia), (Pittsburgh), International (UConn), St. Pete (USF) and Rutgers would have to find a non-Big East bowl.

Scenario 4: Rutgers loses to Louisville and Notre Dame upsets USC: Same as Scenario 3, except Notre Dame, now 7-5, might be attractive to the Gator Bowl (and eligible to be selected). My prediction: Same as Scenario 3, except Notre Dame lands in Gator or Sun.

Scenario 5: Rutgers defeats Louisville and Notre Dame upsets USC: The Big East would have seven, seven-win teams (including Notre Dame), meaning one Big East seven-win team would get shipped to a non-Big East bowl. My prediction: Orange (Cincy), Gator (Notre Dame), Sun (Big 12), Meineke Car Care (West Virginia), (Rutgers), International (Pitt or UConn), St. Pete (USF) and whoever International doesn’t take between UConn or Pitt goes to a non-Big East bowl.

Of course, all this can change Saturday if Cincy loses to Syracuse Saturday. But even if the Bearcats are upset, USF is locked into the St. Pete Bowl. Just waiting now for the official invitation. 

Reader Comments

Por (Gary S.) on November 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Even if Cincinnati loses to Syracuse, they still win the Big East unless West Virginia wins its last two games. UC wins all possible tiebreakers, because they beat all the teams they could end up tied with (RU, WVU, Pitt). In fact, if Pittsburgh beats WVU Friday, the UC-SU game will be moot.

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Por (Jim Johnson) on November 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)


Your source was clearly better than mine.  So I don’t mind being wrong on the two-win rule.

But I am glad to see that I was not wrong about NCAA Bylaw—the one that says 6-6 teams can only go to bowls if all 7+ win teams have been selected.

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Por (Dan Coe) on November 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

How could have the Sun picked a 6-6 team over a 7-5 team?  I thought the Sun picked teams before the other bowls do.  If that’s the case don’t they have to select a team with 7+ wins first because they havn’t been picked yet?

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Por (Patrick O'Rourke) on November 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)


Can you provide us with the TSA attendance count (i.e. the one that really matters)?  Over 42,000 tickets sold, but it looked like only about 30,000 butts in those UGLY RED SEATS.

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Por (Doug Currier II) on November 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

So now who is USF most likely to meet in St. Pete? Houston, Rice, E. Carolina, again?

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Por (Brett McMurphy) on November 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Dan, if there are six Big East bowls and five 7-win teams and some 6-win Big East teams, after the champ goes to BCS, Sun can select a 6-win team if it desires (since one will have to be selected for a Big East bowl). Once a 6-win team is picked, then the remaining bowls must take the 7-win teams.

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Por (Dan Alatorre) on November 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

You know, I thought about it and even though I didn’t want to be going to the St Pete Bowl (not prestigious enough), after our losses this season, I’m okay with it. Because ANY bowl is better than NO bowl, and we came close to NO BOWL game this year. Can’t say I cared for that thought too much. When this team plays well, it is a joy to watch, After all, they are just kids; they’re not going to do everything right all the time. Years from now, we will be able to say that we went to X number of bowl games in a row, and it won’t matter too much what a lot of them were. Meineke? Papajohns? Come on. Meanwhile, we will be able to help launch what I hope will be a very successful Bowl game that (years from now) teams will want to be in.

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Por (Brett McMurphy) on November 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Patrick, if you had 26,677 you’re a winner. That was the actual attendance for USF-UConn, the Bulls’ lowest home attendance since the 2006 home finale against Syracuse. Dan, good point, and in 10 years or so, I’m not sure how many of the bowls USF has gone to in these four years will still be around ;^) Sun obviously will, but the others, who knows.

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Por (Paul Seiler) on November 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I agree with being happy just to be in a bowl after the melt down.  That said, if we beat WVU, at 8-4, I’d hope we’d have a better bowl to chose from.  But you’ve clearly done the research. 

SI’s projection shows USF v. Southern Miss, but they’re 5-6 (with SMU left, so 6-6), so that’s unlikely. Hopefully we play someone decent.  Even tho’ I’m disappointed, I’ll tickets & cheer on our Bulls.  Great win last night.  Nervous, but good gut check.

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Por (Paul Seiler) on November 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Brett, the Sunday, 8:15 game is tough for non-locals.  I would have loved to come to the game, but with completion near midnight, I’d get home at 4 AM.  With work & school for the kids the next day, it was impossible.  I love that USF plays Thurs, Fri and Sun games, but it sometimes makes it hard to travel.

Look for me at the USF-WVU game.  I’m bringing my in-laws (and wife).  They’re all Mountaineers, and I bought my tickets in the USF section.  Hopefully our Bulls fans will be RespectaBULL…the ‘Eers fans were great to me when I was there 2 years ago & we wrecked their season.  GO BULLS!

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Por (Jon from Jax) on November 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Hey Brett,

Do you know if they are installing extra seats at the Trop for left field viewing. If not, I’m not sure why anyone would buy tickets to the game.

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Por (Don G) on November 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Jon from Jax, exactly!  I checked the Ticket Master site for the St. Pete Bowl to see what tickets were still available, and just like you said, there’s a very large distance between left field and the football field as layed out. The only area where it’s close to the football field is along the first base line and those tickets are nearly gone except for around the 15-10 yd lines. Not sure what the St. Pete Bowl are thinking, but as it looks on ticket site, there’s no plan for bleacher seats on the “other” side of field except for what are seats in baseball’s left and center field. What a joke!  Brett, please represent the fans to the St. Pete Bowl folks and tell them they’re really screwing up!

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Por (Brett McMurphy) on November 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Jon and Don, I will check with the St. Pete Bowl about the seat setup. Since it’s the first year of the bowl, anything is possible.

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Por (bud) on November 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Michigan sucked this year… But yet they sold out all the home games,  Just to say real fans support their team.

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Por (James) on November 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Word is coming out of El Paso that the Sun Bowl has some side of side deal with the BE to take a 6-6 ND regardless of what happens with the rest of the BE.

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Por (Don G) on November 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Brett, if C-USA does not have a 6-win #5 team (meaning no other remaining team has 6-wins either) and Sun Belt does not have a 6-win team, which conference would St. Pete Bowl go to for an opponent for the BE representative (probably USF)? Could they go to any conference or independent (incl Notre Dame if ND is not selected by another bowl)?

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Por (Gary S.) on November 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

All Michigan’s tickets were sold before the season started.

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Por (Brett McMurphy) on November 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Don, Notre Dame can not come to St. Pete Bowl because it has a deal with the Sun Belt to provide a team if C-USA doesn’t have enough teams. Now if Sun Belt and C-USA can’t provide a team, I guess it’s a possibility, by I think Notre Dame would opt for somewhere else. James, the Notre Dame/Sun Bowl deal is hogwash. I addressed it in a blog post listed above.

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Por (Don G) on November 30, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Although I’d like to see BE vs ACC in Gator, it probably won’t happen based on talk about Nebraska (Big-12) playing in bowl vs ACC. If that’s the case, and after this past weekend’s games, here’s my bowl predictions: Cincy obviously going to Orange Bowl, Gator selects Nebraska/Big-12, Sun Bowl picks Pitt (if Pitt beats UCONN), WVA to Meineke (if they beat USF), Rutgers goes to Papa Johns, UConn to the International Bowl and USF to the St. Pete Bowl.  Caveat: if USF beats WVA and Rutgers wins 7th game by beating L’ville, Rutgers goes to Meineke, WVA to Papa Johns, UCONN to Intl Bowl, and USF to St. Pete (even though USF is 8-4 & Rutgers is 7-5).

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