Update: American Athletic Commissioner Mike Aresco told the Washington Post that "there have always been plans in case this happened to minimize the impact on the bowl system," and that he thinks fears stoked by the bowl honchos are "overstated." We'll see.
If you're a fan of chaos in sports, there's potential for something pretty spectacular to happen in college football this weekend.
As Navy heads into Saturday's American Athletic Conference title game against Temple, the Midshipmen can stake a claim to being the best team outside of the power conferences - and thus earn an invitation to the Cotton Bowl.
For the Midshipmen to book that ticket to the big stage, they'd have to beat the Owls, then beat arch-rival Army a week later. It would also likely help if undefeated Western Michigan loses in the Mid-American Conference title game Friday night in Detroit.
You can set the odds of that happening wherever you want, but even Temple fans would have to acknowledge that Navy has a decent shot of making it happen. Saturday's game is in Annapolis, after all, and Army is a worse team than Temple.
Win both games and the Midshipmen will be 11-2 overall, including wins over Notre Dame, Houston, Temple and Tulsa. That's a serious resume against an undefeated or one-loss Western Michigan team that won at Northwestern and Illinois earlier in the year.
In fact, just a Navy win over Temple would be enough to create chaos.
Why? Because it might have to delay the selection of teams for bowls across the country, including the marquee games on New Year's Day.
The bowl selections are set to be announced on Sunday. If Navy still has a shot at the Cotton Bowl, the selectors would have to wait until after the Army game.
And that, according to Really Important College Football People, just can't be allowed.
In fact, it would be un-allowable to such a great degree that one of those Really Important College Football People admitted how much of a problem it would be to ESPN's Brett McMurphy:
"I don't want to be un-American," one bowl official said, "but nearly everyone in the bowl industry, quite frankly, is rooting against Navy."
That official technically isn't rooting against Navy, just what happens if Navy wins. That's because if Navy wins the American and is in contention for the Group of 5 bid in a New Year's Six bowl, the College Football Playoff selection committee could delay announcing the highest-ranked Group of 5 champion team until Dec. 10 when Navy plays Army, six days after its final rankings are revealed.
The domino effect on other bowls could "paralyze" the system, a source said.
Oh, the horror. Oh, the pearl-clutching. Oh, the risk of having to wait just a little longer before these folks will know what teams they'll be watching as they feast on shrimp cocktail, barbecue and high-end cheeses in January.
(And take their huge checks from sponsors and ticket-buyers while the players get nothing but a few goodie bags.)
If there's an actual inconvenience in delaying the bowl announcements, it would land on friends and families of players who'd have less time to buy airfares and hotel rooms to go to early bowls. The same goes for traveling fans. Though I have a hard time believing the suits care too much, beyond hawking overly-expensive "official" ticket packages.
Later in McMurphy's story, there's this:
"If the committee believes the result of the Army-Navy game could affect Navy's ranking and therefore its place in the playoff or its selection as the Group of 5 representative, only the pairings that affect Army and Navy would be delayed until after the Army-Navy game," College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said.
Okay, that doesn't sound so bad. But a few sentences later...
"The bottom line is if the rankings are delayed, it would be a disaster to the bowl system," a bowl official said.
A disaster! Gasp!
Ladies and gentlemen, college football's power structure is openly rooting for Temple. What a world.
From a purely local perspective - and certainly if you're a Temple fan - it's a great thing. But with all due respect to Matt Rhule's outstanding team, wouldn't it really be better if the honchos would suck it up and do their jobs?
I'd like to think that even Rhule would agree with that, no matter what happens Saturday.