The NCAA, which requires teams to finish with at least a 6-6 record to be bowl eligible, announced Friday it has certified an all-time high of 35 bowl games through January 2014.
That means 70 of the 120 Division I-A teams will play in a bowl game beginning this postseason. As the Wiz posted earlier this month, only 71 teams finished 6-6 or better the past three seasons, leaving a razor-thin margin of error of one team.
However, the NCAA is working on a contingency plan if the number of bowl-eligible teams falls short of 70.
"They don't have a formula yet, but the NCAA has told all the bowls that if there aren't enough bowl-eligible teams, all the bowls will still be played," said Bruce Binkowski, executive director of San Diego's Holiday and Poinsettia bowls. "They still need to figure out what the formula is going to be."
It's not clear what the formula will be, according to Brent Schrotenboer of the San Diego Union-Tribune. It could mean a 5-7 team being allowed entrance into the postseason, or a 6-6 team with two victories against I-AA opponents. Currently, only one victory over a I-AA opponent is allowed to count toward bowl eligibility.
"Historical data indicates that there will be enough bowl-eligible teams; however, the postseason licensing subcommittee will address this issue in more detail as we approach the 2010 season," an NCAA spokesman said.
Last season there were 34 bowls, but the International Bowl in Toronto went out of business. In its place are the Dallas Football Classic and the Pinstripe Bowl in New York.
Two other bowls were denied a license — the Cure Bowl in Orlando and Christmas Bowl in Los Angeles. Officials were likely concerned there would not be enough bowl-eligible teams, but the move to clear the 6-6 hurdle means the 35-bowl barrier could be only temporary.
"I think we've pretty much maxed out now," Binkowski said. "But they are not going to put a limit on it if they can figure out how they can get bowl-eligible teams to play."