JMU football should be allowed to play in a bowl game. It is obvious.

It’s time for some introductions. Common sense, this is the NCAA. NCAA, that’s common sense. I realize you’ve never met. You should really get to know each other. James Madison Football could be the perfect topic to build your relationship.

When discussing the undefeated Dukes of Harrisonburg, Virginia, keep in mind that they are only in their second season as a Football Bowl Subdivision (translation: big boy) program. Check that NCAA rules stipulate that they are ineligible to play in the postseason until next year, a restriction intended to deter schools that might consider moving up a level on a whim. JMU did the opposite of that, methodically planning for years how and when to move up from the Football Championship Subdivision. But you already know that.

And then, to foster a new partnership for both of you, just ask: Who the hell does keeping JMU out of a bowl game help? Or maybe even better: who would that be? injured If the NCAA allowed JMU to play in a bowl game?

In a college football world that is constantly twisted, if not completely torn apart, this is the easiest problem to solve. It should take a call from NCAA President Charlie Baker to JMU athletic director Jeff Bourne: “Sorry for the headache. You’re in. Good luck.”

“We met all the standards,” Bourne said Tuesday during a Zoom call with reporters. “We have proven that we are extremely competitive not only in football but also in all other sports. In that case…I don’t know what else JMU could do to prove that we’re not ready to be treated equally for a bowl opportunity. There is simply no other reason.”

Bourne spoke calmly and in a measured tone. But sometimes he sounded annoyed. Who can blame him? He was less than 24 hours away send a letter to Jere Morehead, CEO of Division I of the NCAA, who makes one last plea for reason.

Forgive him if he loses his own.

“I’m laughing because in this current environment it’s very, very difficult to predict what relief the NCAA might provide,” Bourne said.

Laugh, Jeff, because if you don’t, you’ll cry.

That’s stupid. JMU is 9-0. It has won five road games, including at Virginia and at Marshall. In 2022, it was 8-3 against 10 FBS opponents. Some quick math shows the Dukes are 17-3 in 2022 and 2023 combined, just shy of Tulane’s 20-3 mark as the best among the Group of Five conferences. They don’t play weaklings. They play peers.

Why did the Dukes play fewer games than the Green Wave? Well, in part because Tulane got to play in the American Athletic Conference championship game last season and then advanced to the Cotton Bowl, where it beat USC. Do you think that doesn’t matter to a school, a program or the players who make it?

That’s what’s at stake for the Dukes, who could finish this season as the top-ranked Group of Five team – a status that could give them access to a prestigious New Year’s Six bowl game. As it stands, the Sun Belt Conference, following the NCAA’s lead, won’t even allow the Dukes to play in their title game.

The Dukes are not cheaters. They have shown in their planning and commitment – ​​in finances and equipment – ​​that they more than belong.

“Winning at the level we achieved this year, I think, really highlights the preparation for where we are,” Bourne said. “And I think it adds significantly to our case and public perception.”

This should not be a PR campaign. It should be a sensible campaign. An NCAA spokesperson said the organization has received JMU’s application, which “will be reviewed by the appropriate membership committees in a timely manner.”

Tick, tick, tick. JMU’s regular season ends November 25th. The Sun Belt title game — which could be held there — is Dec. 2. Let us immediately convene the relevant membership committees. Or bypass them entirely.

JMU basketball surprises No. 4 Michigan State to open the season

Why are we even discussing this? It shouldn’t have taken a letter from Virginia Attorney General Jason S. Miyares (R) to bring the matter to Baker’s attention. Miyares wrote to Baker in October asking for a waiver. Baker disputed this, writing back: “If changes to the reclassification process from FCS to FBS are warranted, they should be governed by laws that apply to all schools reclassifying from FCS to FBS.”

If you’re running an organization built on bureaucracy and obscure bureaucracy, you’d better rely on bureaucracy and bureaucracy to make your decisions, right?

That brings us to Monday’s letter to Morehead, signed by Bourne, JMU President Jonathan Alger and JMU Principal Maribeth Herod. Morehead, who serves full-time as president of the University of Georgia, should know something about quality football.

“Our university has addressed this transition in a way unlike any other institution since the transition rules changed 23 years ago. and our student-athletes have achieved amazing, unprecedented success during this time,” the letter said. “Relief that allows our student-athletes to participate in a bowl game, as their game deserves, is warranted.”

Hello again, college football in November, you wondrous guy

That’s important because this isn’t about the administration or Bourne or coach Curt Cignetti, who is 50-8 in his fifth season. It’s about the players. You have put in a lot of work. You deserve the rewards.

“Any time you lose a chance to appear in the final rankings, it’s an offense to our student-athletes and it hurts them,” Bourne said. “And those of us in the NCAA who do what we do every day don’t want anything to come to harm our student-athletes.”

College football will take forms never before considered in order to achieve the desired results. USC and UCLA can essentially doom a conference with more than a century of history because another conference promises more money. The NCAA wants Congress to hold its hand as it navigates the new — and fair — world in which athletes can benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness.

And The Are NCAA leaders deciding to take a principled stand? On James Madison’s 9-0 football team? As JMU said in its letter to Morehead, “The current, rigid application of the rule, which in this case takes away a deserved postseason opportunity, is indefensible.”

So stop defending it, NCAA. Sit down with common sense. Grab a cup of coffee. Put away your rules and disband your committees. Make the right decision – and soon: JMU is better than many bowl game programs. Why on earth keep the Dukes out? JMU football should be allowed to play in a bowl game. It is obvious.

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