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Memo to the dullards at the NCAA: Let JMU play in a damned bowl game, already

Chris Graham
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JMU petitioning the NCAA for a chance to play a mid-December bowl sponsored by a roofing company is one thing. The stakes are now raised with the 9-0 Dukes in position to play in a New Year’s Six game.

“Relief that allows our student-athletes to participate in a bowl game, as their play has earned, is warranted,” JMU President Jonathan Alger and Athletics Director Jeff Bourne wrote in yet another appeal to the NCAA on Monday.


Chris Graham on JMU Football


Look, yes, JMU knew the rules when the program embarked on its reclassification from FCS to FBS, and while the rules are stupid – football programs making the move up aren’t eligible for a bowl for two years – they are the rules.

But if there’s ever a situation that calls for an exception to the rules, this one would appear to be it.

JMU is 9-0 overall, 6-0 in the Sun Belt, which ain’t bad – the conference roster includes Coastal Carolina, App State, Troy, all programs that you don’t want to book if you’re a P5 looking for a non-conference guarantee win.

This on top of an 8-3 finish last year that would have put the Dukes in the Sun Belt championship game if, again, they’d been eligible.

The College Football Playoff can’t consider JMU for its weekly rankings because of the eligibility issue, but odds are that the Dukes would be at least in the mix if the NCAA would just wisen up.

This weekend’s game with UConn should be a gimme, but the last two – App State (5-4, 3-2 Sun Belt) in Harrisonburg, then at Coastal (6-3, 4-2 Sun Belt) on Nov. 25 – are hardly pushovers.

If JMU finishes the regular season 12-0 – the ESPN Football Power Index has the Dukes as favorites in each of their last three – it would be idiotic if it would be left out of not only another Sun Belt title game, but also a shot at a New Year’s Six game.

But we’re talking about the NCAA here, meaning, don’t hold your breath.

In response to a push from Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares earlier in the fall to reconsider, NCAA President Charlie Baker had this to say:

“The Division I Board of Directors and council believe clear standards and timelines for reclassification processes will promote strategic membership growth and allow for a uniform experience for all reclassifying institutions,” Baker wrote. “The board and council agreed that if changes to the FCS-to-FBS reclassification process are warranted, these should be handled through legislation that applies to all schools reclassifying from FCS to FBS.”

Dullards, those NCAA folks.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].