As if this season in Florida college football — a season where UCF is headed to a New Year’s Six bowl while Florida sits at home and FAU recorded double-digit wins — needed to get weirder, a Reddit user named bakonydraco has shown the Seminoles shouldn’t actually be bowl eligible after all.
Florida State is scheduled to play Southern Miss at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Independence Bowl, and bakonydraco’s post won’t change that. But it appears that because of a technicality, FSU really shouldn’t be headed to Shreveport, Louisiana.
The technicality hinges on rule 22.214.171.124. of the NCAA rulebook, which outlines criteria for postseason participation. A Football Bowls Subdivision team, like FSU and other FBS teams, is allowed to participate in a bowl game if it has at least as many wins as losses. A typical FBS schedule is 12 games, so a team generally needs to be 6-6 at minimum to be bowl eligible. And for those wins to count, they need to come against other FBS opponents.
However, subrule 126.96.36.199.1 lays out an exception: FBS teams can include one win over a Football Championship Subdivision opponent per season to its total win count. This is common practice. Miami did it this year by playing Bethune-Cookman, and Florida tried to do it against Northern Colorado until the game was canceled because of Hurricane Irma.
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FSU incorporated the rule by playing Delaware State on Nov. 18, a 77-6 win for the Seminoles. But the subrule also says the FCS team needs to use more than 90 percent of its available scholarships. Bakonydraco reported that Delaware State didn’t meet that criteria, using only 87 percent of its available scholarships.
College football insider Brett McMurphy reported that despite the oversight, the game will go on as planned. Future wins over FCS opponents, however, are likely to receive heightened scrutiny after this incident. As an anonymous source told him, “It's complete incompetence on the part of the NCAA. It's their job to monitor this stuff.”
Buffalo, Western Michigan and UTSA, meanwhile, which were all left out of postseason play despite qualifying, are left wondering what could have been, while Florida State, undeserving thanks to Delaware State falling under 90 percent of its scholarship allotment by 3 percent and unmasked by a Reddit user named bakonydraco, plays in its record 36th consecutive bowl game.