No offense to the South Alabama Jaguars, but the Air Force Falcons got jobbed in their bowl game destination and opponent this year.
Well, maybe a little offense is intended. The Falcons are going to be playing a 6-6 team that was 1-5 in the Sun Belt Conference. Yes, they beat San Diego State but their six wins include two against FCS teams. More than likely the team wouldn’t have even made the bowl game this year if LSU didn’t have to cancel a game to play Florida. Instead, they replaced LSU with the powerhouse Presbyterian team and pulled off a 31-7 victory. And the other FCS game the Jaguars played was a one-point nail biter against Nicholls State, who finished 5-6.
This is nothing like last year when Air Force was preparing to take on the California Golden Bears and future first overall draft choice Jared Goff. That is not what bowl season is suppose to be about. It is suppose to be about Air Force taking on giants like it has in the past when it played the likes of Ohio State, Virginia Tech or Ole Miss. But who is to blame for this disappointment?
Let’s start with the Mountain West Conference. Why would you agree to put one of your teams in a bowl game that does not have a good television contract and is being shown on Campus Insiders, an internet television company that will not get the conference or the Falcons any kind of television ranking that you need to improve your brand.
It is being aired on the American Sports Network but that coverage is not exactly nationwide and mostly on channels that air reruns of old sitcoms, Jeopardy and those judge shows that can be very addicting. Basically, ASN is a channel that you scroll through late at night when skipping through NBC, CBS, ABC or FOX.
In fact, your entire bowl alignment leaves a lot to be desired when compared to the American Athletic Conference. If you want to compete for serious attention from the Power Five, you better make yourself a bigger player. And having a 9-3 team, that beat both ranked Navy and Boise State, on internet television is a bonehead move.
Add in that you are missing the patriotic pride of watching a service academy team on national television makes this bowl alignment a lose situation, in the same way you lost last year when two teams from your conference played in this silly game.
Next, how about we throw some blame at the NCAA. You have overdone the bowl thing to the point of it being ridiculous. You have five teams that you had to make special considerations for to fill your 80 team bowl quota. The NCAA has now become the organization that is handing out participation ribbons for teams that have no business playing in bowl games. Mississippi State and North Texas don’t really need to be playing in bowl games, yet both of those 5-7 teams are gearing up for another game even though they couldn’t get six wins. Yes, the Bulldogs are from the almighty SEC, but if you can’t get six wins you should be getting ready for next year. Even fellow service academy Army only got six wins because of two FCS victories. In most years, that leaves you on the outside looking in, but here is your yellow participation ribbon because we need to fill all those contracts. Sometimes, less is more.
In the end, there is going to be a year where the Air Force team is 6-6 or 5-7 and makes a bowl game. The team and their loyal fans will pack their bags and head somewhere warm to play another substandard team and it won’t matter that we were below average because we have our participation trophy and our bowl invite. But it won’t be right then and its not right now. Air Force deserved a better opponent in a better bowl that can be watched on ESPN. Instead, they go to Tuscon and will play in front of a sparse crowd and have maybe 100 people watching them on Campus Insider. Happy Bowling Falcons.