Once consistent aspect of this league’s football programs have been the relative success in the postseason exhibition month. This year the league went 4-2 in bowls with the only two losses being blowouts in the New Mexico Bowl (UNT) and New Orleans Bowl (MTSU). The rest — UAB (Boca Raton), Marshall ( Gasparilla), FIU (Bahamas), and Tech (Hawaii) all won.
This is all good and will be parroted endlessly in all the publicity leading to next season. Your friendly writer here has a hunch that people care about the early season non-conference wins than they do the bowl ones. Outside of the highest-profile bowls — the traditional Sugar, Rose, the playoffs, — people’s attention is on the holiday season, school, the looming NFL postseason and other things.
One reason ESPN pays to have so many bowl games is that everyone is doing something else and they need something on television to fill the time. Most of bowl season is filler — and while that is not a bad thing, it is not the greatest venue for building national recognition. Many of the complaints we saw about the bowl selections suggests that the average twitter CUSA fan is not overly fond of say, the Gasparilla Bowl, and could not tell you much about that particular event’s history. This is fine. We do not expect you to be overly knowledgeable about it or other middle and lower tier bowls.
Beating a solid MAC opponent is not going to win the news cycle. Beating an SEC team on the road in September will. More people will remember North Texas beating Arkansas — especially because of that punt return— than will remember they lost to Utah State in the New Mexico Bowl.
If CUSA is going to move up in the world — whatever that means — it will have to beat Indiana at home in Miami on September 1st and beat Toledo in Nassau on December 21st.
Middle Tennessee was one-drive away from winning the league but was destroyed by the Sun Belt champ in December and also by the SEC East’s 6th best team in September.
The same goes for the champ — UAB. The Blazers dominated all comers except for Coastal Carolina and Texas A&M. The Aggies are tough, and had a nice little season but losing big like that is a missed opportunity. Is this fair? No. Is it easy? No. Is it what the league’s best teams need to do to earn a little more TV money, fans, and support in the future? Undoubtedly.