Beleaguered U. of Missouri Football Team Declines Bowl Opportunity

Missouri v BYU
The Associated Press

The University of Missouri has declined to pursue an opportunity to play in a bowl game despite its 5-7 record.

“Following this weekend’s football games, there have been significant discussions nationally concerning 5-7 teams participating in bowl games,” Tigers athletic director Mack Rhoades noted in a statement. “After careful consideration, we have decided it is not in the best interest of our football program to seek permission from the NCAA to participate in a bowl game. Our focus remains on identifying the right leader for our program and moving forward with the transition process.”

The need to fill 41 bowls with 80 competing teams means that the NCAA requires as many as five teams with losing records to play in bowls. The bad news for Tigers fans means reason for optimism for backers of Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota, Rice, Georgia State, San Jose State, Kansas State, and South Alabama, according to the Sporting News. Several of those teams with losing records go bowling.

But for Missouri, ending rather than extending the season appears as the most desirable scenario. Head coach Gary Pinkel announced his resignation effective at the end of the season following a bout with lymphoma. His players walked off the field in protest of the school’s president, who subsequently resigned after a series of alleged racial incidents on campus.

Beyond the departure of their coach and the drama with their players, the Tigers played terribly. After winning their first three games, Missouri went 2-6 the rest of the way. Their season mercifully ended with a 28-3 loss to Arkansas. Prolonging what had been one of the more painful campaigns in University of Missouri history evidently struck Rhoades as an act of masochism.

The Tigers kickoff next season with a new coach, players, and school president against West Virginia on September 3. Games in 2016 against Eastern Michigan, Delaware State, and Middle Tennessee State should prove a boost in the win column.