MORGANTOWN — As the chair of the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee, Shane Lyons stands in a unique position when it comes to assessing bowl games.
West Virginia University’s athletic director understands that — even with the advent of a college football playoff — the number of bowls keeps rising and school participation has reached record levels.
But how much is too much? Lyons himself isn’t sure.
During Wednesday’s media briefing at the Coliseum, Lyons wavered a bit on the topic. When the NCAA approved three new bowls starting in 2020 — in Los Angeles, Boston (Fenway Park) and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina — it bumped the number of postseason games to 43, including the three playoff games. The number of participating teams swells to a record 84, representing nearly 65 percent of the 130 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
“I think some could argue they feel that the other bowl games have been watered down,’’ Lyons said, “because if you’re not playing in the four-[team playoff], then what does it mean? I think you can always make that argument, from years back, of saying, ‘If you’re not No. 1 and 2, what does that bowl game mean?’ You can argue both sides of that. I don’t know really where I fall.
“I think those things will continue to be looked at, obviously. I know people are watching. The numbers are still supporting fans watching the game. The numbers are showing not from attendance, but the numbers from TV are showing that people are still watching. Some of those [games] are made for TV.’’
The Oversight Committee serves as Division I’s lead authority on the sport, and Lyons’ term as chair runs through June 2022.
It’s gotten to the point that if a program doesn’t qualify for a bowl game, then it’s falling behind its competitors — both in-conference and nationwide — since bowl and playoff teams reap the benefits of three-to-five weeks of extra practice to develop the players on their rosters.
“We’ll continue looking at it,’’ Lyons said, “and seeing what’s best for college football. It gives these young men and these communities the opportunity to host a game.
“I do think that the college football playoff has been very, very good. I think it’s worked with the four teams. There needs to be more discussion, and I think there will be, whether we’re going to six [teams], whether we’re going to eight. That needs to be explored more in depth.’’
WVU opens its season Aug. 31 with a home game against James Madison.
Because of the new NCAA recruiting calendar, schools have already seen official visits made by players from the Class of 2020.
“We had groups come in last week for official visits,’’ Lyons said, “several months earlier than the past. We’re used to not being able to bring them in until the fall, obviously when they’re playing their high school seasons, and a lot of official recruiting visits didn’t come until after the season in early December and sometimes January. It’s something we’re all trying to get adjusted to with the recruiting calendar.’’