The NCAA strives to create a level playing field across its landscape. It’s a noble concept.
It’s not a level playing field, however, for college football when teams not bound for bowls are prohibited from practicing in December. Bowl teams get several weeks of game prep but, truthfully, much of that training is for younger player development.
Because the schools not going to bowls aren’t allowed to train then, they don’t get the development work for returning players and the gap widens.
Fifty-eight schools have won at least six games this fall and are eligible for bowl play and the extra practice.
Among the 58, do you know what Stanford, BYU and Florida State have in common? The Cardinal, Cougars and Seminoles have won 6 games this fall against schools with winning records.
Bowl-bound Virginia Tech and Clemson have 5 victories over schools with above-.500 records and Alabama, Missouri, Baylor, Notre Dame, Ohio State and USC have 4 each.
Four bowl-eligible teams – Cincinnati, Marshall, Rice and Texas State –have not defeated even one team with a winning record.
“Big Five” conference members Arizona, Iowa, LSU, Miami, Oregon State and Texas Tech have beaten only one opponent with a winning record this fall.
Each of the schools on the various lists above has earned the rewards of bowl eligibility and should get to enjoy the perks of post-season travel and the associated bowl activities.
In the spirit of leveling the playing field, the NCAA should consider offering those developmental practices to any school who wishes to conduct them. That is regardless of bowl status.