Bowl-ineligibility for new members

So, after my hometown Old Dominion Monarchs’ season ended today with a loss in the FCS quarterfinals, I looked on Wikipedia to catch a glimpse of the future of the Monarchs’ excellent football team, which has put together a 38-10 record in its first four years of revival (the first ODU football program was disbanded in 1941).

To my surprise and delight, I learned that ODU will be joining the FBS starting in 2014, and will play eight Conference-USA opponents before becoming a full member of C-USA in 2015.

However, I’m confused. Why is it that football programs in their first year with a new conference, or in their first year in FBS, are declared ineligible to win the conference title or participate in a bowl game (as will happen with ODU)? Sounds rather unfair to me.

When are they eligible to win the conference title or participate in a bowl game? In 2015 or 2016?

My WAG is that you can’t win a conference that you’re only halfway into.

I do know that TAMU is in a bowl game this year, so there’s no blanket prohibition against playing in a bowl game in your first season in a new conference.

I doubt that this will matter much. Kinda like how (insert hot young actress who just got married) getting married didn’t really affect my chances of dating her. It usually takes teams years to build up to winning conferences and going to bowl games. It took WKU years to get there and they were so good with Willie Taggart that he got hired away.

I don’t think there’s any NCAA bylaw that makes all new FBS teams bowl-ineligible for one year. The problem might be with the schedule; remember that a school can count only one win against an FCS team in determining whether it meets the .500 or better record requirement for bowl eligibility. (The NCAA just added an exception: if a team that just transferred from FCS finishes 6-6, it is eligible if there are no other 6-6 teams remaining to fill a bowl bid.)

If there is a “one-year bowl ineligibility” rule, it might be similar to the four-year ineligibility rule for schools transferring from Division II to Division I; I think it’s there to prevent schools from jumping up to Division I / FBS just for the football and basketball money.