Update: Rutgers set to accept Gator Bowl bid.
Things move fast these days.
On Wednesday, it was reported that Texas A&M had to drop out of the Gator Bowl due to positive cases of COVID-19 within the program. The game is set to be played on Friday, December 31 in Jacksonville, Florida against Wake Forest.
It got more interesting soon after when national reporter Brett McMurphy tweeted this:
Gator Bowl could have replaced Texas A&M w/a 5-7 team based on APR, sources told @ActionNetworkHQ. Rutgers had 1st option, but declined. Other not expected to accept. “How many 5-7 teams have been practicing or are still in school? None,” source said— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 22, 2021
It’s good to know that Rutgers had the top APR rating of any 5-7 team this season. However, I think it’s unfair to term the situation as Rutgers declining the invitation to replace Texas A&M. The reality is there was no choice to be made.
Rutgers hasn’t played or practiced since November 27. The team has been off for almost a month. All of the players are either home or working on the next stage of their life and or careers now that finals are over for the semester. Players already entered the transfer portal and declared for the NFL Draft. The Gator Bowl is nine days away.
McMurphy did cite a source explaining that any team asked with a 5-7 record would be in the same predicament.
We all hoped the Scarlet Knights would go bowling this season, but that was never a fair expectation. Making a bowl game under the proposed circumstances that presented themselves isn’t the way it was meant to be.
It would have also been reckless from a health perspective with potential injuries, as well as logistically extremely challenging. Both of those points don’t even cover the reality of actually getting a team prepared to play a game of that magnitude in such a short time frame.
In addition to all of the logistical issues involved in Rutgers needing to overcome to play on nine days notice a month after last playing, doing so during a COVID-19 surge and clearing protocols make it even more daunting.
It’s simply an impossible situation that required zero thought for Rutgers to have in order to respond. It should have been reported “Rutgers shrugged its shoulders saying, ‘what can you do.’” It’s not a missed opportunity if it didn’t exist in terms of ever being truly possible.
The Scarlet Knights are set to open the 2022 season in Chestnut Hill against Boston College on Saturday, September 3.
Here is a report from Pete Thamel stating Rutgers is considering. I stand by my opinion it would be a mistake. More to come as updates become available.
Sources: Rutgers has interest and is exploring the possibility of playing in the Gator Bowl. They have the highest-ranking APR of the available 5-7 teams (979), which *should* give them chance to play. (Illinois has an APR of 970). Rutgers also beat Illinois head-to-head.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) December 22, 2021
Rutgers set to accept Gator Bowl invite.