HUNTINGTON — Fans who are making friendly bets on what Conference USA-affiliated bowl in which Marshall will play may want to hold on to their money.
The answer very well could be none of those six bowls.
In what has proven to be a wild year in terms of scenarios throughout the C-USA landscape, there is a chance that Marshall could play in a contest that falls outside of the general conference tie-ins.
Russ Anderson, Conference USA’s assistant commissioner for football and baseball operations, said the goal is to place C-USA teams in the best scenario possible, so there has been contact with bowls outside of the league’s normal contracted bowls.
“At least eight or nine,” Anderson said by text on Friday. “We’ve tried to exhaust every possibility.”
The communication with eight or nine bowls outside of the regular six with which Conference USA is affiliated means there are 10 to 15 different scenarios which could play out.
“This is as wild of a year as I can remember,” Anderson said. “I would say that we have dedicated more time on the bowls than we ever have before.”
Bowl announcements are an interesting aspect to college football, and the landscape of how those agreements are made has changed over the years.
All week long, Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick has fielded questions in regard to the Thundering Herd’s potential bowl destination.
And all week long, it has been the same answer from Hamrick.
“I really don’t know,” Hamrick said. “That’s all with the conference. Bowls don’t even really contact schools anymore. They just communicate with the conference.”
Hamrick laughed that fans normally think he is just being coy, but in fact, there is a lot of truth to the statement.
Especially this year, that destination is not likely to be known until 3 p.m. on Sunday — after the College Football Playoff’s New Year’s Six is announced.
Anderson said the New Year’s Six — the College Football Playoff’s premier six bowl games — play a large role in determining how all the bowl scenarios shake out.
That especially rings true for Group of Five bowls due to the one slot allotted in the New Year’s Six for a G5 program.
Sunday’s announcement of the Group of Five spot — most likely the AAC Champion or Boise State — will impact all the various scenarios moving forward.
Once that is announced, the various leagues finalize their respective bowl lineups.
After the New Year’s Six are announced, many things come into play, such as league’s trading bowls for a particular year to fit matchups or the bowls calling leagues in search of prospective teams if a certain league can’t meet its requirements to send a team to the bowl.
This year, that could come into play with the Southeastern Conference.
The league works through its various eligible teams with the bowl partners and, upon agreement, those in charge of the bowl then contact the various schools to invite them to play in their game.
What makes Marshall an interesting prospect — and, thus, one of the most volatile for C-USA’s lineup this year — is the strong travel base that accompanies the Herd.
Anderson declined to discuss specific bowls, but did confirm Marshall as one of the teams that has been mentioned in talks with bowls outside of the C-USA ties.
According to Anderson, the league’s official announcement on the destination of its eligible league members will not come down prior to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
For the 2019 season, there are 79 eligible bowl teams to fill 78 slots. One team — likely from a Group of Five program — will not be invited to a bowl.