The NCAA has approved Georgia Tech's waiver to be bowl-eligible should they lose the ACC Championship Game on Saturday and go 6-7 despite adopting a policy almost four months ago designed to keep the Yellow Jackets out, two sources told CBSSports.com Thursday night.
Georgia Tech and the ACC last week filed for a waiver seeking relief in case Tech lost to Florida State, CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd reported earlier this week. Last year, UCLA got into a bowl game at 6-7 after losing in its conference championship game. The Bruins filed a waiver for the right to go 6-8.
In August, the NCAA established a criteria for qualification in case there aren't enough bowl qualifiers, including teams that "finished with a 6-7 record, with the seventh loss being in a conference championship game."
But there are 71 bowl-eligible teams for 70 slots this year, which means, in theory, a team such as 10-2 San Jose State could be left out of a bowl to make room for Georgia Tech. UConn and Pitt also could complicate matters should they qualify for a bowl this week.
The MAC, having a banner year thanks to BCS hopeful Kent State and seven bowl-eligible teams, reacted strongly to the news Thursday night.
From MAC Commissioner John Steinbrecher: “I am disappointed in the NCAA's decision to issue a waiver. I could not disagree more with the rationale provided. One of the reasons for the development of the policy covering this matter was to clearly create a selection order to manage just this situation.
“These selection orders were developed with NCAA staff input and approved unanimously by the NCAA Board of Directors last July. To suggest that that the NCAA staff or task force working on bowl policy did not contemplate such a circumstance, when this same situation occurred last year, is incorrect. The policy is clear and understandable.
“What is lacking is the willingness to enforce NCAA policy and that is regrettable. All the Mid-American Conference asks is that the rules that have been approved by the member institutions of the NCAA be enforced. That did not occur in this instance."
Efforts to reach the NCAA were unsuccessful.
Georgia Tech is locked into a three-way tie in the ACC Coastal Division at 5-3, but Miami taking a second postseason ban and Tech's head-to-head edge over UNC elevate the Yellow Jackets into the title game -- with the chance to drop below .500.
Clearly the Yellow Jackets and the ACC feel Tech shouldn't be punished for this.
As it stands, Tech will play in a BCS bowl or likely the Sun Bowl, which can accept the league championship game runner-up if still available at the time of selection. Georgia Tech has a 5-3 conference record and should be available. The ACC bowl selection process goes by conference record, not overall record. The Sun Bowl typically takes the No. 4 ACC team.
(Edited 9:04 p.m. CST): This post originally stated that Georgia Tech would play in the Music City Bowl instead of the appropriate Sun Bowl. The change is reflected above.