A few days ago, I, like many others, predicted that we would wind up in the Chick-fil-a bowl vs. either Duke or Miami. A few things have happened this week that have altered my projection:
#1 - Gary Danielson went on the Dan Patrick show Monday and discussed how Texas A&M and Missouri effectively make the SEC appear weaker with their quick success after jumping from the Big 12.
#2 - In an interview with Cotton Bowl CEO Rick Baker, Ryan Wood of the Post and Courier was told that they are interested in hosting South Carolina.
#3 - Steve Spurrier publicly shows interest in the Cotton Bowl.
#4 - Zach Mettenberger is reported to have a torn ACL.
For those who don't know, here is how the bowl selection order goes for SEC teams.
*Captial One Bowl: They have the first choice overall from the SEC.
*Cotton Bowl: They have the first choice of an SEC West team.
*Outback Bowl: They have the first choice of an SEC East team.
*Chick-Fil-A Bowl: The next most prestigious bowl, can pick from the remaining SEC teams.
On Monday, when I heard the Gary Danielson comments, I started thinking about how much that same banter has been thrown around recently. We obviously busted on to the SEC scene with a ridiculous amount of success in year one, and Missouri is in position to win the SEC Championship in only year two. No one predicted this before we moved into this conference, and although there are plenty of logical explanations as to why it is happening (new coach & HeIsManziel, developed Senior class, down years for other programs) it doesn't stop the chatter about how incredibly weak the "Mighty SEC" narrative looks.
Based on that, I made a prediction:
I decided that if I was Mike Slive, I want to send a team to the Cotton Bowl to beat the tar out of whatever the Big 12 sends up. Not only that, but I want to do it with an established SEC team, and a team that comes from the perceived weaker division. I figured Mike Slive would push for the Cotton Bowl and Outback Bowl to trade, but as it turns out, he wasn't going to have to push too hard.
The Cotton Bowl just had Texas A&M, and has had LSU a lot over the past few years. The Outback Bowl just had South Carolina. It's in the interest of all parties involved to switch their picks, and at the end of the day, that means we will be seeing South Carolina in the Cotton Bowl.
I would have thought the Outback Bowl would take LSU in this case, but the recent injury news about Zach Mettenberger leads me to believe that they will use their SEC West priority pick to take a healthy Johnny Manziel.
There are only a few things that could keep this from happening:
- Missouri gets trounced by Auburn
The Capital One bowl should pick the loser of Missouri and Auburn. If Missouri loses, the Capital One bowl could pick what might be a better draw with Spurrier and Clowney, but I think it depends on how well Missouri plays in the loss. If they put on a memorable show, then I think they get the Capital One invite. If not, the Cotton Bowl may not want to make a trade, and they select either a banged up LSU or us, and Missouri gets the Outback Bowl.
- Texas beats Baylor (stop laughing)
If this happens, I don't see how a Texas vs. Texas A&M Cotton Bowl doesn't. I mean, story lines galore. Possibly Mack's last game, coaching against another Heisman Winning quarterback who wanted to be a Longhorn that he passed over, in his last game. It would be epic, and it doesn't appear that there is as much politicking to avoid this game as there was last year.
Unless something wild happens, here is my current projection:
New Projected Bowl: Outback Bowl
New Projected Opponent: Iowa
Brandon Larrabee of TeamSpeedKills.com disagreed with me about this projection. He doesn't believe Mettenberger's injury has that much impact on their bowl placement, and I can see validity in that argument. At the end of the day, both the LSU and Texas A&M brands will travel well. In my mind, if the Outback Bowl gets the first SEC West pick, and their ultimate goal is to field the best possible matchup, then I think Texas A&M vs Iowa (or Nebraska) plays better than LSU vs Nebraska. Similarly, if Clemson were to get the Chick-fil-a bid, I think LSU would fare better against Clemson than Texas A&M.
The SEC is filled with stories about the politicking involved with selecting teams for bowl games. Brandon sent me this tweet, and I think it's accurate.
@TelcoAg Though -- and as an A&M fan you wouldn't know this -- it's still possible the Outback would take A&M. It's ... unpredictable— Brandon Larrabee (@TeamSpeedKills) December 4, 2013
I don't think I as an A&M fan have a good feel for how bowls get selected in this conference yet. Right now, I'm working off of what I perceive to be the most logical choice. Too bad things often don't work out that way.