Last week, we noted a paucity of bowl-eligible college football teams, even under the relatively degraded standard of six wins to get in, and we have first rumblings of the cable-sports-entertainment complex running out of money.

The college sports cartel decided to engage in virtue signalling, allowing a few five-win teams to go to bowls, provided they had demonstrated some fidelity to the notion of student-athlete, using their self-serving "academic progress rate."  Thus does Minnesota (motto: ten thousand ways to surrender the Axe) get the fifteen extra days of practice and a television appearance.
It’s a chance to play in another NFL stadium — the Lions’ Ford Field — and a chance to win a bowl game, something Minnesota hasn’t done since 2004.

Yes, the Gophers got picked as a replacement because the NCAA didn’t have 80 teams reach bowl eligibility with six victories. But the reason Minnesota is going bowling, and some other 5-7 teams aren’t, is because of its turnaround with the Academic Progress Rate.

“Our APR is good; we’re proud of the kids for that,” [coach Tracy] Claeys said. “So we got picked for a bowl within the rules that are in place, and we’re happy to get a chance to go.”

Central Michigan won five of its past six games to finish 7-5, including 6-2 in the Mid-American Conference.
The provision for inviting five-win teams on the basis of academic progress was apparently in place before the skewed structure of victories emerged.
There are 40 bowl games now, and with the NCAA having 80 spots to fill, only 77 teams qualified with six wins.

The three 5-7 replacement spots went to Nebraska (985 APR), the Gophers and San Jose State (975).

Missouri (976) declined a bowl invitation, but the Gophers jumped at it, knowing they’ll get 15 extra practices.
The mind boggles at Missouri's team threatening to forfeit the game if the wrong cable channel or the wrong sponsors came with the bowl bid.

But with ever-more opportunities to roll your own television programming with the help of the internet, I am not optimistic about these bowl games (the Participation Prize Series?) generating strong viewership ratings.

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