The Pac-12 has passed a peculiar rule that will now require Pac-12 football teams to win at least 6 wins to be bowl eligible. This will eliminate 5-7 teams from bowl contention should there be more bowl game slots than there are teams with 6+ wins.
College football has seen a rise in bowl games over the years, and some years there are too many bowls to fill. In 2015, the NCAA voted to give the remaining bowl slots to the 5-win teams with the highest Academic Progress Ratings.
No Pac-12 school has ever had a 5-win team in a bowl game, but it is puzzling why the conference would effectively cut itself off from the chance of that happening. Even a middling team playing in a low-level bowl game would bring a hefty amount of money to the school and the conference. Even more important than the bowl game money would be the additional practice and playing time that are so vital for mid-tier programs. Moreover, if the Pac-12 prides itself on academics, former Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said that being a 5-7 team selected for a bowl game showed academic reinforcement for his players.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said to the Associate Press,
“The Pac-12 is committed to supporting the highest quality of competition at post-season bowl games. In requiring a minimum of six regular season wins our goal is to support the significance of the bowl season and provide our fans around the country with the most exciting games featuring our leading Pac-12 teams.”
It sounds like the Pac-12 just doesn’t want their worst teams playing in bowl games and embarrassing the conference. Even if 5-win Pac-12 teams would be blown out in low-level games against mid-majors or other middling P5 teams (which is unlikely), it doesn’t seem worth avoiding because those fringe bowl teams would benefit greatly from any bowl, even if it was low-quality football. Besides, the Pac-12 is more than capable of embarrassing itself in bowl games with or without 5-win bowl teams.
After seeing Pac-12 teams combine for a 1-8 record in bowl games in 2017, it seems like the conference is doing something to curb that embarrassment. But this is far from the answer and this rule seems much more likely to hurt the conference than help it.