If your concern is whether or not the Syracuse Orange would have deserved to play in a bowl game this season if they finished 5-7, that’s irrelevant. There’s no such thing in college football as “deserve.” It’s simply about supply and demand. If you supply enough results, you meet the demand.
So keep that in mind when wondering what could have been if the SU Football team won one more game in 2016. Because if they had, per Nate Mink, they almost certainly would have been going to a bowl game in spite of their losing record.
We’d been keeping track of this phenomena all season long because of two things: an overabundance of bowl game spots and Syracuse’s pretty-good APR score. If there were enough open bowl spots, as there are, and a 5-7 team with a qualifying APR score was available, they would fill it.
As Nate spells it out, 74 of the 80 bowl spots are spoken for. Army (6-5) will get one of the remaining six despite beating two FCS teams and Hawaii will get one despite being 6-7 because Hawaii.
From there, even if South Alabama and Louisiana-Lafayette notch their sixth wins of the season this Saturday, that still leaves two available spots for 5-7 teams with good APR scores.
That will include North Texas and...it would have been Syracuse. Instead, a different 5-7 team will get that bowl game, 15 additional practices, and more exposure.
Makes you really wonder what could have been had the Wake Forest game not been played in a hurricane, or if Eric Dungey hadn’t gotten hurt.
But, long-term, perhaps it’s best not to dwell too much on what could have been in 2016. While the bonuses would have been worth it, you could make the case that Coach Babers and his staff could impact the program just as much on the recruiting trail right now. If the goal is to have Syracuse in a position to really break out by the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018, then you take the hit here and now and push forward.
In the meantime, we’ll always wonder what fun we could have had in Birmingham, Alabama this December...