Georgia Southern Denied Bowl Eligibility After Appeals

By Brian Wilmer -

Georgia Southern’s second — and final — appeal to appear in a bowl game this season has been denied, USA Today reported Tuesday.

This season is Georgia Southern’s first at the FBS level, and the basis for the latest appeal was that the Eagles’ 8-0 Sun Belt record and conference championship should be grounds for admission into a postseason contest. That appeal — and also, apparently, that of fellow first-year Sun Belt/FBS club Appalachian State, who was also bowl-eligible — fell on deaf ears.

Wright Waters, Executive Director of the Football Bowl Association, explained the reason for the rule keeping out first-year teams to USA Today:

“The FCS members insisted upon it because they didn’t want people moving from FCS to FBS too easily, so they felt like this year of transition helped them keep their members in FCS,” Waters said. “We can debate whether it does or not. Then the FBS membership kind of said, ‘OK, sure we understand that, we’ll go along with that but our reason for going along is because (players) can transfer from FBS to FCS and become eligible immediately. They said, ‘We don’t want a bunch of people to transfer in May from all of our programs and in September we see them again playing for bowl spots.'”

“It was imperative for our student-athletes’ benefit that President Keel and I took this appeal to the highest level and explored the possibility of being able to go to a bowl game, and unfortunately with today’s decision, they have been denied for the second year to compete in postseason,” said Georgia Southern Director of Athletics Tom Kleinlein in a release. “Even though Georgia Southern may not be considered a ‘deserving team’ by the committee’s definition, what this team accomplished is nothing short of extraordinary, and we felt our efforts warranted a chance to continue to play.”

  1. Patrick Ryan
    December 2, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Wow. This may be one of the biggest jokes I have heard recently. Georgia Southern obviously knew this was the rule going into this season but I doubt they imagined they would have this successful of a first yr. I think that it is a joke that this is being controlled by the FCS. What a ridiculous thought to have, thinking that if they make a bowl the first year that this will encourage teams to leave. Georgia Southern was a dominant force in the FCS and the Southern Conf. for many years. This is and should continue to be the only reason a team should be allowed to move up a division. If they earn it with their record then they deserve it. I personally had the privilege of watching them play many times and boy was it worth it. Did anyone see them play GT? They practically had them beaten. It’s just unfortunate people don’t think of the players more than their personal financial agendas. The senior class that is finishing up is being restrained from playing in the FCS playoff and being denied a bowl berth. What a crummy way to end a well accomplished season. They deserve another game but will walk out with their heads held high. But don’t think for one minute they will ever forget not being rewarded for what they rightfully earned. Lame as it gets!

  2. Shep
    December 2, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    That’s the rules and they knew it going in – this isn’t a surprise. I’m sure they’ll be in plenty of bowls in the future.

    • Patrick Ryan
      December 2, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      True, they will be in more but sucks for the seniors this year. But thanks for the great comment and insight.

    • Shep
      December 2, 2014 at 11:09 pm

      Because the seniors had no idea that their program would be held to the same standard as every single other school making the transition? You sir are the one that lacks insight, fanboy.

    • JD
      December 4, 2014 at 7:40 am

      Many people say the whole “you knew the rules going in” thing, but while that is true….It doesn’t really address the real point here, imo. It is also within the rules to appeal, and within the rules to be denied, so I don’t see anyone trying to break, or having broken, any rules throughout this. I am happy as an Eagle fan for the accomplishments this year…I don’t think anyone could have reasonably expected much better of a season and transition than what was accomplished this year, but talking about knowing the rules doesn’t give any justificiation for whether the rule is a “just” rule. Georgia Southern had success this year with less than other teams in the conference had, due to still not having had time to fill the total slot of scholarshiped players associated with the move etc. Where is the justification for excluding a team that does more with less? The whole argument about the rule keeping teams in FCS is bogus anyway because teams just don’t “move up”….generally speaking (because I’m sure there is an exception in existence somewhere), a team has to be invited. Without that invitation, a school can want to move up all it wants… I guess a 9-3, undefeated in conferece champ can watch a 6-6 South Alabama team (a team that Southern beat along the way) play in a bowl…

      Everyone knew this could likely happen given the rules, but given the waivers that have been granted in the past (such as conference champ Ga Tech being admitted to play in a bowl with a losing record a few years ago), it would have been nice to get equal recognition. A bit disappointing, but winning the conference outright, with the final game being at home etc., in the first year is a hell of an accomplishment Eagles! A season to be proud of!

      GO EAGLES! GATA!

    • Shep
      December 4, 2014 at 10:10 am

      Then the discussion should be to change the rule, not to bend the rule for this instance. I don’t agree with the GaTech ruling either – same with UCLA. But sadly look at the brands behind those waivers compared to GaSo, that’s why it happened. And I’m not surprised at all with your team’s success, I an alum of Sam Houston State and saw first hand what Coach Fritz can do.

    • Patrick Ryan
      December 4, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      Awesome post JD. Totally agree with everything you said.

    • Jeremy Dickerson
      December 4, 2014 at 7:26 pm

      Fwiw, our AD has stated he plans to continue to work to get the rule changed. It’s a nonsensical rule that takes care of itself the vast majority of the time. It isn’t often(if ever, as far as the undefeated conference play goes) that a team does what Georgia Southern did this season as a first year team, but in those rare occasions where a team pulls it off, it certainly doesn’t make sense to not reward the achievement.

      As for Fritz, I at least am overly impressed, and I’m hoping he hangs around for a while! I like the style of play we’ve had this year. A nice blend of what’s familiar with something new.

    • Kat
      December 7, 2014 at 11:26 am

      Technically a team is “invited” to the FBS after they apply. The FBS doesn’t go around and arbitrarily invite a team to the FBS. I think Georgia Southern absolutely deserves to go to a bowl game they had an amazing year and yes maybe the rule should be changed,but for now it is what it is. I’m sure the seniors will live through this disappointment. But to whine about something you knew was a HUGE possibility is simply silly. If you want to change the rule than advocate for it somewhere that it can make a change instead of on a message board. Also, Georgia southern has other options than watching a 6-6 team who was beaten by GS play in a bowl game, they can change the channel.

  3. Lost in Va.
    December 2, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Just supposed all the bowl games are plum out of 6-6 teams……just askin’. If one more team is needed, to they take a 5-6 U. of Buffalo team?

  4. Darrell
    December 2, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    That quote from Mr. Waters is misleading once you declare your move to FBS all transfers must set out one year just like if they are trasfering from one FBS school to another. Georgia Southern has 4 FBS transfers playing on the 2-deap and 3 of those transferred before they even got the Sun Belt invite so I call BS on Mr. Waters reasoning.

  5. Rou
    December 2, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    Georgia Southern lost to NC state after fumbling at the Wolfpack 1 yard line inside three minutes to go up by 13. The Eagles were about to take a 10 point lead on Georgia Tech inside a couple of minutes until the ACC officials in the booth overturned a forward pitch and called it a fumble. GS lost by 4 when Tech scored in the waning seconds.

    All GS did in the Sunbelt was go undefeated. Last year was a transitional season and the Eagles were not eligible for the FCS playoffs and now this. The NCAA needs to re-think the entire process,

    • lost in Va.
      December 3, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      Good point, “Rou”……..two seasons with no postseason possibilities, regardless of classification, is a flaw.

  6. David
    December 3, 2014 at 12:38 am

    Well, maybe the staff will work hard to get a lot of the players on the various Senior and All Star games. Seems like the Senior Bowl should get the whole Georgia Southern staff and seniors for one of the sides.

  7. Patrick Ryan
    December 3, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    David and Rou. Agreed. Great point. Good old Shep is prolly on the spectrum and can’t understand what it means to be left out when you have earned something. He reads the rules and agrees instead of thinking for himself. But hey, this day in age he fits right in.

    • Dan
      December 4, 2014 at 3:30 am

      But those are the rules. GSU knew that going into the process, and still chose to do so. It should be no surprise to anyone that they are being held to the same standards that were set. They’ve been the rules for many years, and all the teams before them were subject to the same process and standards for transitioning. GSU is one of the very rare cases when an FCS team comes in and can actually compete on the field. Typically FCS programs take many years to set up an even mediocre FBS program.

    • Shep
      December 5, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      I am an alum of 3 very different schools in the world of college athletics:

      – Central Michigan University, which went 6-6 and did not get a bowl invite last season. By the rules, if they had this record this year and the MAC allotments were filled, they would/should absolutely get an invite before GaSo because that’s the rules
      – Sam Houston State University, which has firmly been a Top 25 FCS school that has explored the possibility of moving up similar to system school Texas State
      – Michigan State University, which will have the doors beaten down to bring them to town if they are 6-6

      You’re just a butthurt homer that doesn’t want to play by the rules.

    • Patrick Ryan
      December 5, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      Not at all butthurt. Not one bit, just don’t like lame rules that have no legitimate reasoning. Continue to walk btw the lines and live in a box and so as your told. U.S. In a nut shell.

    • Shep
      December 5, 2014 at 7:12 pm

      So let’s say Charlotte comes in and has a great first season at the FBS level and Georgia Southern has a decent 6-6 year with all of the SBC bowl tie-ins being taken by other teams, you think that Charlotte should go instead of your school, correct?

    • JD
      December 6, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      I don’t think a 6-6 team has any business playing in a bowl anyway…I think a winning record should be required, 7-5 or 6-5(if that is possible). But yeah, if Charlotte or anyone has a jam up first season they absolutely should go bowling over a 6-6 Georgia Southern. As a Southern grad and fan, it would feel crappy, but teams that get it done on the field shouldn’t be sitting at home because some other team that has been around for a few years, and has a mediocre record, doesn’t want their feelings hurt.

      If Southern goes 6-6 in a given year (which is bound to happen at some point perhaps), there won’t be any celebration going on in Statesboro.

  8. Evan
    December 3, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    They should schedule a Sun Belt championship game with ULL

  9. Drew
    December 4, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    They should let GSU and UAB play a game at Legion Field. It would be cathartic, and GSU would get a postseason game.

  10. P
    December 4, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    One of the best ideas I have heard in a long time. Tweet tweet.

  11. Stuart
    December 6, 2014 at 11:52 am

    The rule is the rule, Georgia Southern knew it going in. They knew when they accepted the Sun Belt invitation they would not be eligible for FCS because they were in transition and had too many scholarships last year, and they knew this year was probationary in FBS. It was the contract they signed.

    Tom Kleinlein’s statement is disingenuous, the “committee” did not reject Georgia Southern on the grounds of not being Bowl worthy anymore than they rejected Ohio State two years ago on a perfect season. It is an example of political demagoguery, and as such shameful.

    All that said, winning the SBC in their first year is impressive and an accomplishment. Good job.

  12. Richard J. Ream
    December 29, 2014 at 2:03 am

    All conferences with at least 10 or 12 schools should be required to have a conference championship game and the number of bowls should be frozen at 40 next year. It’s ridiculous that there’s already so many many many Mediocre Bowls. Can’t the NCAA put a stop to this mindless bowl proliferation?? Otherwise the next new televised bowl could be the Sherman Williams “Watching Paint Dry” Mediocre Bowl.

  13. Daddyo
    January 1, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    AGREED Mr. Ream!
    There are too many freaking Bowl Games now !
    It USED to mean something to get an invitation to a Bowl Game. Players would huddle around a TV in the locker room and wait for the announcements!
    But now, a team can get into a Bowl Game with a mediocre or even losing record, well ?

    Actually, I don’t think the # of Bowl Games should be FROZEN at 40, I think it should be CUT !!!

    As for this discussion and all the people quoting ‘the rules are the rules’….. well, BAD rules are meant to be changed ! So give it a break and get out of the BOX you live in ! Have you never encountered a bad rule that you wanted or even tried to change in your life ? And even IF they were barred from Bowl play, does it make sense to bar them for 2 years vs. the rule of 1 ? And all the crap about ‘they knew…’ well, did all the players, and especially Seniors ‘know’ ? or did they bust their a$$ for 3 years prior to get shut out of what they EARNED? Yeah, the school and most people will forget it in no time, however, the PLAYERS & especially SENIORS will think about it EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF THIER LIVES! If any of you couch potato wanna-be’s that never played a day in their life HAD ever played, you would shut up with ‘the rules’ garbage and anything else you know nothing about!

    I have an MBA from USC, so I have NO allegiance to ANY of the colleges mentioned. So don’t anyone come back with the ‘sore fan’ garbage either.

    Bottom Line….. IT IS ALL ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS ON THE FIELD, not in some Board Room ! If they earn it, they deserve it ! It’s a BAD rule, when could there have been a better time to CHANGE it ?

  14. Daddyo
    January 1, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    And BTW, ‘Kat’, why don’t you say your ‘change the channel’ BS to one of the GS players ?
    All of these ‘rules are rules’ and your ‘change the channel’ comments are so much crap, it is sickening! At least find something new to open your mouth with…..say less than 100 years old ?
    To anyone who made the ‘rules are rules’ comment….. are you really able to think for yourself at all ? To see the bigger problem here, or does this just give you an opportunity to speak blindly about something you have put NO thought into?
    And for the one comment (not worth looking back), sometimes you have to get INTO an organization to be able to suggest a change to the rules. Had GS denied the invitation to move up, how long would it have been before they were offered that opportunity again ?
    I have NEVER written in a forum such as this before, but reading the ridiculous comments simply made my blood boil and just substantiated that ‘most’ (not all, there were some very good and intelligent comments here as well from individuals that I assume just enjoy the discussions) of the comments and posts are from a bunch of uneducated, regretful wanna-be’s that just never could do it….and probably even got ‘cut’ from the Mighty-Might/Little League Teams when they were kids! For once in your life, stop being bitter and try to think like one of the actual PLAYERS who will always live with the feeling they had something taken from them they spent their blood, sweat & tears to achieve!
    Finally, I promise….. Kat, I think you (and many of the other xxxx’s ) should openly apologize on this forum to GS and every one of its PLAYERS ! Again, would you have made that comment to one of the players or SENIORS on the team or only in anonymity here?
    OK, its time to watch and respect the teams and players that showed on the FIELD, they deserved to be there for me to enjoy the talent they possess.

  15. Jeff Moore
    March 20, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    A rule is a rule and must be obeyed. Yet it is a bad rule that should be changed. Either a deserving 9-3 team should be eligible for a playoff or a bowl. Transition year is faulty thinking. GA Southern will survive but still what the NCAA does with this rule is FLAT WRONG!

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