I don’t write much about MTSU because my wife and I are fans and long-time members of the BRAA.
We are personally involved and attend many games. Today, I’m making an exception.
The story, which broke Sunday, that after compiling an 8-4 worksheet, the Blue Raiders would not be invited to a bowl was, to say the least, more than upsetting.
To make it even worse, if that’s possible, Western Kentucky and Georgia Tech were both invited.
If memory serves, our Blue Raiders beat both these teams while playing at their home fields. I’m almost positive I heard Chip Walters describe those wins on the radio.
We also won more games than either of them. As a matter of fact, Georgia Tech had to get a waiver to be eligible.
Who do we blame?
Could this have been avoided?
Is there a conspiracy?
Here are some things that you do not do if you want to go bowling:
1. Do not lose a home game in your season opener to a team like McNeese State that is perceived as nothing more than a warm-up game and should have been the first of nine wins, not eight.
2. Do not announce to the world that you are leaving your conference two days before the bowl selection committee meets and other Sun Belt Athletic Directors have considerable input.
3. Do not lose your conference championship game 45-0 less than 24 hours before the bowl selection committee meets.
All of that is 20/20 hindsight, it’s the last question that’s really important now.
I think the answer to the conspiracy question could well be yes.
I think it’s tied to recruiting and, as always, the bottom line.
The Sun Belt Conference does not want MTSU to be in the public eye, on TV, on a national level playing in a bowl.
After all, the players MTSU will sign in the coming months in every sport will be playing a large majority of their athletic careers in Conference USA not the Sun Belt.
In fact, if they have a redshirt year, they will be playing their entire careers in C-USA. The Sun Belt certainly did not want MTSU to get still more publicity if the Blue should win another all-sports trophy. Since we entered the SBC, MTSU has won eight of the coveted Bubas Cups.
The Blue Raiders deserved to go to a bowl.
We were 8-4, tied for second and played for a championship in our final game.
MTSU is an exciting team that has played and won bowls in the recent past in front of good crowds.
To say this is not fair is an understatement.
I feel for everyone involved but especially for our players.
Their reward for winning eight games was to never get a chance to win a ninth.
So much for the respect and support from and camaraderie with many of our fellow Sun Belt members and our commissioner. None of them made a recommendation to any bowl that the bowl take MTSU based on the merit that the Raiders clearly earned.
Carl Benson, the commissioner of the Sunbelt Conference, really didn’t seem to care very much when being interviewed by Tim Tackett on WGNS on Tuesday. In fact the Commissioner put the blame on the various bowl committees.
That’s a cop out in my judgment.
It’s going to cost the university $1 million to leave the Sun Belt, if we leave before a year has passed. As a matter of fact the amount (penalty) to leave the conference was raised from $500,000 very recently.
Some might say it was raised when it became obvious that teams were considering leaving: In other words – for greed.
Middle will probably contest this and almost certainly lose. My advice is to pay the million. It’s time to move on and the sooner the better.