LINCOLN — A Nebraska athletic department official said Monday that the Huskers would accept a bowl bid if offered, which became a more probable scenario with NCAA confirmation that available 5-7 teams would be selected based on Academic Progress Rate scores.
NU would not, however, pay bowl bonuses to head coach Mike Riley and his assistants that could have totaled more than $435,000.
David Witty, NU senior associate athletic director, said that decision was made by Husker Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst, who met Monday with Riley. Witty said Eichorst would have no further comment.
The Riley contract signed last winter calls for a $150,000 bonus for any bowl game that is not part of the College Football Playoff, the same as was built into Bo Pelini’s most recent contracts until his dismissal in 2014.
In the description under performance bonuses, however, there is no reference to any sort of win-loss record involved.
According to contracts for the NU assistants — and also consistent with past seasons — they are due 8.33 percent of their annual salary as a bowl bonus.
That amount would have ranged from as much as $45,815 for defensive coordinator Mark Banker and $41,650 for offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf to $22,907.50 for Keith Williams and $20,825 for Trent Bray.
The cumulative bonuses for Husker assistants of $287,385 combined with the Riley amount would have totaled $437,385.
Witty said it’s possible that the wording in the contracts would be reviewed going forward based on the unforeseen circumstances this season, partly the result of a record 40 postseason games.
Due to the lack of teams that technically will be “bowl eligible” with six wins, two to five teams with 5-7 records will be needed to fill the 80 spots. The NCAA ruled Monday that those would be picked based on best APR scores.
In addition to its APR, a 5-7 Nebraska also would be an attractive candidate because of its fan following and brand, and the lack of six-win teams to fill all the Big Ten tie-ins.
Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com on Monday had Nebraska headed to the Armed Forces Bowl in his latest projections. Palm predicted the Huskers playing Air Force in the Dec. 29 game in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Foster Farms Bowl and Quick Lane Bowl are among others following the 5-7 story, with NU joined by Minnesota and Illinois as 5-7 teams in the Big Ten pool.
“A lot of us thought it would happen at some point, but with the pick we have in the Big Ten, we didn’t think we would be at risk,” Foster Farms Executive Director Gary Cavalli said. “It’s just one of those weird years with a lot of 5-7s. It’s a new day.”
That said, Cavalli was adamant that there would be no hesitation on the part of his game to welcome Nebraska, if available. The Foster Farms Bowl is played Dec. 26 in Santa Clara, California, and would match a Big Ten team with a Pac-12 opponent in Levi’s Stadium.
“If there was ever a 5-7 team you’d be interested in, or would make a case for, it certainly would be Nebraska this year, with the incredible series of games they lost at the last second and the bad luck,” Cavalli said. “We’ll just have to see.”
Palm had Indiana-USC as his projected matchup for the Foster Farms and Nevada-Central Michigan for the Quick Lane Bowl, which is Dec. 28 in Detroit. The Quick Lane Bowl has tie-ins with the Big Ten and ACC, but certain bowls would need replacement teams if leagues can’t provide enough teams.
Cavalli said one scenario that could land Nebraska in the Foster Farm Bowls would be if Penn State (7-5) were to go to the Music City Bowl and Indiana (6-6) to the Pinstripe Bowl. Palm had Minnesota (5-7) going to the Pinstripe Bowl.
In terms of the 5-7 teams available based on APR figures, the order would be Nebraska (985), Kansas State (976), Minnesota (975), San Jose State (975) and Illinois (973). Missouri (976) said Monday it would not seek a bowl and focus instead on its coaching search.
Kansas State could still reach 6-6 by beating West Virginia on Saturday. Georgia State (at Georgia Southern) and South Alabama (Appalachian State) are the other teams currently at 5-6.
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