After its best season in years, and finishing a close second behind Sun Belt Conference champion Troy, this was supposed to be the year UL football snapped its 38-year bowl game spell. But on selection day, the Ragin’ Cajuns didn’t get an invite, a snub that has sparked outrage and bewilderment across all UL sports fan outlets from the Raginpagin blog to Jay Walker’s radio show. The Motor City Bowl passed over UL for the Sun Belt’s third place finisher, Florida Atlantic. Even more puzzling was the Shreveport Independence Bowl reaching all the way to the Mid-American Conference’s fifth place team, Northern Illinois, to play against Louisiana Tech rather than UL. With the Sun Belt having contracts in place that were should have guarunteed its runner-up a bowl spot, politics clearly came into play. So who’s to blame? We break down the leading suspects:
1. The Sun Belt Conference/Wright Waters - The obvious culprit. Last year, Sun Belt Conference commissioner Wright Waters secured deals with the PapaJohns.com bowl and the Independence Bowl that were supposed to guarantee Sun Belt teams priority. UL Coach Rickey Bustle says every coach in the conference was under the impression that the magic number of wins was six. But apparently, the fine print gave the bowls an out unless a Sun Belt team had seven wins. For more on Wright Waters, see Bob Heist’s indictment in today’s Daily Advertiser.
2. Glen Krupica - Deputy Athletic Director for External Affairs at Northern Illinois who played a lead role in selling the school to the Indepence Bowl. Just so happens he also served as the Indepence Bowl’s executive director from 1994-2005. Krupica pleads his innocence to The Advertiser, telling the paper that his connections to Shreveport “might have been a small benefit but nothing significant. We worked like every other team looking for a bowl.” Sure you did.
3. Frank Brogan - Florida Atlantic University certainly scored a coup by finishing third in the Sun Belt and still managing to leapfrog UL into the Motor City Bowl. It’s probably just a coincidence that FAU President Frank Brogan serves as president of the Sun Belt’s executive committee and is on the NCAA’s 17-member board of directors.
4. ESPN - Who are we kidding? College football and the bowl selection process is driven entirely by TV ratings and controlled by corporate fat cats at places like ESPN (read: Disney) and NBC (General Electric). They pick the teams that they feel deliver the biggest TV audience. It’s the only logical explanation for why the Shreveport Independence Bowl taps a fifth-place Mid-American Conference team in Chicago over UL.
5. LSU - For a certain segment of Ragin’ Cajun nation, anything and everything that goes wrong is due to in-state arch-nemisis LSU. Case in point, on KATC's "The Rant" segment last night, someone wrote in saying that "I know in my heart of hearts, LSU is to blame for this [bowl snub]." There’s a lot of pent-up animosity here from consipiracy theory yore about how LSU has done everything in its power to keep UL down, from foiling its name change to stealing its money in the state legislature. You’ve got to reach pretty far to pin the bowl snub on LSU, but Independent reader John Mikell has called in with what could be the missing link: Independence Bowl Executive Director Missy Setters is not only an LSU alum, but also worked in the LSU Sports Information office for three years.
6. The BCS - Those damn computers. Everyone knows college football needs a playoff.