It’s not going to be music to the ears of a lot of people in town or along West End, but when bowl bids are extended Sunday afternoon Vanderbilt more than likely will hear from none other than the Music City Bowl.
At the very least it’s all but guaranteed that the Commodores won’t cross the state line when they make their first “trip” in more than a quarter century to a bowl game.
A popular opinion is that the bowls tied to the Southeastern Conference will sort out selections among themselves and create a compromise to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s a nice thought, but also highly unlikely.
The reality is that the primary purpose of the bowls is to make money in a number of different ways and Vanderbilt offers the least amount of potential in that regard. With the smallest fan base – by far – in the conference, no history of huge travel parties and six losses in their last seven games, the Commodores simply are not in high demand.
With the regular season completed and only the conference championship to be played, it’s pretty clear how the selection process will play out within the SEC.
Regardless of who wins Saturday, Florida and Alabama are each headed to the BCS games – one to the championship contest and the other to the Sugar Bowl.
Next comes the Capital One Bowl followed by (in tandem) the Outback and Cotton Bowls. There are some divisional priorities involved in the latter two, but Georgia, Ole Miss and LSU look like locks for those three, in whatever combination.
Next comes the Chick-fil-A Bowl, which on Wednesday announced it invited Georgia Tech from right there in Atlanta to be its ACC representative.
With hotel rooms to be sold in Atlanta, that bowl will need a big presence from the SEC, and that means South Carolina and Steve Spurrier. Gamecocks fans will be able to drive there, which will lessen the travel costs in these financially challenging times and will increase the number of tickets sold to the limit.
That leaves the only two remaining choices – the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis and, of course, the Music City Bowl for the two remaining bowl-eligible teams, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
Conference rules stipulate that those two do not choose in any particular order but that they must do so in consultation with the conference office.
There is the possibility that if both bowls covet the same school, that school will decide. If that happens, the fight will be over Kentucky and its rabid fan base.
Unless someone (the conference office, the UK athletic department) thinks that it’s a good idea for the Wildcats to come to Nashville for the third straight year, then Vanderbilt just might end up in Memphis. Seriously, what are the chances anyone really thinks that way?
The reality is that it’s time for everyone to consider the possibility – make that ‘probability’ – that Vanderbilt isn’t going anywhere when it finally goes to a bowl.