When the Sunday bowl selections were all fleshed out five Mid-American Conference teams got invites to continue on into the postseason. Toledo wasn't one of them.
Despite finishing the season 7-5 (5-3 MAC) with a win over MAC Champion Bowling Green and MAC East runner-up Buffalo, the Rockets didn't get selected for a bowl game this season. Instead Ohio, which finished with a 7-5 record as well, but had a worse conference record, including losses to both Bowling Green and Buffalo, got the nod as the fifth and final MAC team to get a bowl invite this season.
The Rockets seemed to be a lock for the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, but when Toledo got word at the end of practice today that they wouldn't be going bowling head coach Matt Campbell was disappointed.
"It's disappointing. I'm disappointed for our kids," he said. "It's not the way we wanted to end the football season. There's no question about that."
"We had some opportunities at the end of the season to maybe not allow this opportunity to come, and we put our faith in the hands of other people," Campbell said, alluding to Toledo's back-to-back losses to Northern Illinois and Akron at the end of the season "When you do that sometimes this can happen."
The Rockets getting passed over by Ohio shocked many. The 'Cats struggled down the stretch, losing four of their last six, and getting blown out multiple times. But with a senior-laden team and a fan base known for traveling well, the people in charge of the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl opted to go with Ohio in the end.
Campbell shared his confusion and frustration in the decision, citing the tougher schedule the Rockets played and the better in-conference record.
"I think our schedule is as good as anybody in the country, quite honestly." he said. "But again, I think it goes back to when you the ability to control your own destiny you can't put the faith in other people's hands. We certainly did that."
As Campbell said the Rockets let others dictate their future. By losing to Akron, Toledo went from a sure-thing bowl pick, to having their postseason future up in the air, and it backfired. For the first time since Campbell joined Toledo five years ago the Rockets are not going to a bowl game. With the news that they'd be staying home this winter it officially closed the book on the careers of many key Rockets, including running back David Fluellen and quarterback Terrance Owens. But Campbell isn't going to let the set back stew for long. Calling it a lesson learned he said the final three practices they had will set them up with a good foundation for their preparation for the 2014 season.
"We deal with the situation, and we move on," he said.