It's that damn Mandel! He's so hot right now!
I went to the extraordinary trouble of doing a very complicated Google search for "2005 bowl games" and found this helpful guide. Please tell me if you see any correlation between bowl success last year and success this year, because I sure don't. If Mandel would have written about springboards at this time last year, he no doubt would have mentioned Kansas after their annihilation of Houston in the Forth Worth Bowl. Or maybe Clemson after a nine-point win over Big XII North Champion Colorado in the Champs Sports Bowl? Alabama after winning the Cotton Bowl? Or how about NC State after a 14-point win over South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. (Good lord do I feel like a slapper writing out these bowl names. Thank goodness we have bowls instead of a playoff.) And let's take a look at the teams that were big stories this year for having far better seasons than expected:
Michigan - lost to Nebraska in the Alamo Bowl (and as a matter of fact, Michigan's players have said that last year's debacle, ending with a loss to a clearly inferior Nebraska team, was a, dare I use the term, springboard into 2006).
Rutgers - lost to Arizona State in the Insight Bowl.
BYU - lost to Cal in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Boise State - lost to Boston College in the MPC Computers Bowl.
Surely, there are examples to the contrary. LSU, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Florida all come to mind as teams that had impressive years on the heels of good bowl performances, but all that does is get us to the conclusion that bowls can be a springboard or they might not. In any event, it's useless to use results in December to predict results for next fall. Mandel, if he was paying attention, makes a somewhat related point in that same article when discussing how anomalous bowl results can be:
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Most non-BCS bowl games are in no way reflective of a team's season as a whole. The circumstances are just too strange. During the regular season, you don't get a four-week break to reinvent your offense or throw younger players into the rotation. Already this bowl season, we watched Rutgers spring its own Tim Brown, Florida State's Lorenzo Booker morph into the player we'd been waiting to see for five years and some Iowa receiver named Andy Brodell do an uncanny Tim Dwight impression.
If a four-week layoff is enough to create results that are unrelated from the regular season, then what would we say about an eight-month layoff during which time teams see their personnel change, as well as their coaching staffs and schemes in some instances?