Bowl Talk

A bowl game is a reward for a good season, and a good season by definition of college football rules for bowl participation is six victories. Alabama has six victories, along with six losses, and despite the lack of success in 2006 the Crimson Tide could be in a bowl game.

But Alabama, which is the national leader in bowl appearances (53) and bowl victories (30) could also be left out of the bowl picture this year. That's because those rules that allow a team with six wins to go to a bowl also put that six-win team behind squads with more victories. The Soputheastern Conference is assured of at least eight spots in bowl games. There are now nine SEC teams bowl eligible.

The only other SEC bowl-eligible team with only six wins is South Carolina, and the Gamecocks have a chance to get to seven wins against Clemson this week. If South Carolina wins, Bama's only shot at an SEC affiliate bowl game would be for the conference to get two teams in BCS bowls. One SEC team is assured of a spot in the Sugar Bowl. The best chance for a second team is the league's one-loss teams, Florida or Arkansas, meeting in the SEC Championship game with still just one loss each and Florida winning and going to the national championship game. (Arkansas probably wouldn't make the title game even with a 12-1 record and a win in the SEC Championship game because of its slaughter at the hands of Southern Cal in the first game of the year.)

If Clemson defeats South Carolina, Bama could grab the SEC's eighth bowl spot, the Independence Bowl in Shreveport on December 28 against a Big 12 team.

If South Carolina wins and the SEC gets just one BCS spot, there is also a chance the Tide could get into a bowl game in which other conferences with affiliations don't have enough bowl eligible teams.

Alabama fullback Tim Castille said that he and the other seniors would like a final game. And, he said, he thinks if Bama doesn't qualify for one of the SEC berths that another bowl, "one of the dot com bowls," would jump at the Crimson Tide. And he's probably right.

In his regular Sunday teleconference with sportswriters, Alabama Coach Mike Shula said, "I haven't really had time to look at all that stuff. I'm sure you guys know more about it than I do. I'll find out more later. We've got to be ready for anything. Hopefully, we can get into a bowl. I think a young football team can use that preparation time and also gain by the bowl experience."

He said it would not be hard to "sell" the players on a bowl game. "It will be pretty easy to seel these guys," Shula said. "It would be beneficial to the team because of the extra bowl practice."

Beyond that, he said, "The senior group has been through a lot. They've worked their tails off. You'd like to see the hard work rewarded. You'd like to send them out on a good note."

He said if Alabama is in a bowl game that preparation would be along the lines of last year. The 2005 team went 9-2 in regular season play, then defeated Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl for a 10-2 season and final number eight national ranking. He noted that if Bama goes to a bowl game this year it would be one that is earlier than the Cotton Bowl, which would affect the timetable of preparation.

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