Sunday, November 25, 2012

VSL's First (But Not Last) Word on Vanderbilt's Bowl Prospects

Here's what we know. The SEC has 9 bowl-eligible teams, one of whom will play Notre Dame for the BCS National Championship, and another who will play in one of the other BCS bowls (likely the Sugar Bowl).  After the BCS bowls, the hierarchy is as follows:
  • Capitol One
  • Outback Bowl/Cotton Bowl (Cotton Bowl has preference of teams from the SEC Western and the Outback Bowl has preference of teams from the SEC Eastern. The bowls can select teams outside of its divisional preference, but cannot select them before the opposite bowl selects from its divisional preference)
  • Chick-Fil-A
  • Gator
  • Music City
  • Liberty
  • BBVA Compass
Vanderbilt finished the season 8-4 (5-3) with the same overall record as Mississippi State, but a better conference record after the Bulldogs lost the Egg Bowl to Ole Miss (giving the Rebels 6 wins and bowl eligibility). Despite having a better conference record, bowl selection committees are free to choose either the Commodores or Mississippi State, which means the decision is likely to come down to the school that they think will travel better.  If you limit the discussion to bowls with SEC tie-ins (not a given considering how many conferences have more tie-ins than eligible teams), the Commodores are probably looking at four possible destinations: Chick-Fil-A Bowl, Gator Bowl, Music City Bowl, and the BBVA Compass Bowl. Complicating matters is that Mississippi State played in the Music City Bowl last year and the Commodores played in the Liberty Bowl, meaning those destinations are probably off the board for each team. 

Given the fact that all bowl eligible SEC teams other than Ole Miss and Mississippi State have better records than the Commodores, Vanderbilt is unlikely to "jump" any of these teams. There is a remote possibility that the Chick-Fil-A bowl may take the Commodores, but a lot of things would have to happen (The SB Nation site for Mississippi State, For Whom the Cowbell Tolls teases out the scenario where Vanderbilt ends up in Atlanta).

Right now, the most important thing for Vanderbilt fans to do is pre-order tickets for bowl games, especially the Chick-Fil-A and Gator Bowls. The more tickets that are sold on the front-end, the easier it will be for Vice Chancellor Williams the rest of the Vanderbilt administration to "sell" Vanderbilt to the selection committees as a program that will travel. 

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