With conference championship weekend upon us, the Georgia Southern Eagles still aren’t sure where they’ll be headed for their bowl game, which could occur anytime between Dec. 21 and Jan. 6.
That’s not shocking or unexpected news. There are all sorts of balls in the air as games are still left to be played and bowl committees continue to deliberate on which teams will be the best fit for their event.
Georgia Southern will know its postseason destination by Sunday, with the most likely candidates being the Cure Bowl in Orlando and the Lending Tree Bowl in Mobile.
To try and read the tea leaves and figure out where the Eagles are heading is probably pointless. The last two weeks have seen rumors that have claimed that Georgia Southern is on its way to just about every bowl game with a link to the Sun Belt Conference.
Part of the fun of bowl season is playing unique opponents in new locations, but all of the secrecy and the late timing of bowl invitations is becoming a burden for teams from ‘Group of 5’ conferences like the Sun Belt.
Georgia Southern will get a couple extra weeks of notoriety in the run-up to a bowl and will be able to sell plenty of bowl-themed merchandise, but when competing in the postseason, there’s a long way to go just to break even. Regardless of where the Eagles end up over the next few weeks, the university will be on the hook for 5,000 tickets that it’s responsible for selling before it can make a dime off of fans who want to see the 2019 team play one more time.
Throughout the week, Georgia Southern has been linked to at least four different bowl games by ‘experts’ citing any number of different sources. Friday only served to make things even less certain. A UL-Lafayette report cited Sun Belt Conference commissioner Keith Gill as stating that the contracts - referring to the conference’s established bowl tie-ins - are contracts that everyone intends to uphold. Yet speculation from other media outlets claims that the Charlotte-based Belk Bowl may be looking to place Appalachian State in the game if no contracted SEC team is available.
There are far too many scenarios to give a full rundown, but the endgame is that all the uncertainty is making things worse for teams and fans alike.
If the conference and a larger bowl want to reward Appalachian State for a great season, that’s fine. Do it. If the SBC’s largest bowl tie-in - the New Orleans Bowl - wants to take UL-Lafayette because it will guarantee maximum ticket sales, that’s fine. Do it.
But let’s try to get all of this sorted out before mid-December next time around.
It’s no secret that the reason there are so many bowl games is that each game has run the numbers and knows that there is money to be made. The same can’t be said for participants in those games if their fans are kept on hold until the last minute while myriad speculation and misinformation gets thrown around for weeks.
Making a bowl is supposed to be a reward for all parties involved. Let’s stop complicating and start celebrating.