Alternate headline: "The Outback Bowl is a joke."
There's nothing official out there at the moment, but Brent Hubbs at VolQuest ($), among others, is saying that sources close to the process have given indication that the Outback Bowl will select...the Auburn Tigers. As Clay Travis points out, that's the same Auburn that's beaten only Furman and Ole Miss since October 3, a 2-5 stretch that everyone thought would leave them at the bottom of the SEC's bowl pecking order. Chris Low also weighs in on the insanity.
When you have six teams at 7-5, it's not going to be totally fair. It's tough to argue Auburn/Tennessee, because the Tigers beat the Vols. It's not tough to argue that of the six 7-5 teams, Tennessee has the best credentials. What's more, not only did the Outback Bowl go away from their traditional agreement of picking an SEC East team, they've reportedly rejected 8-4 Ole Miss, as the Cotton Bowl's attempted trade of Tennessee for Ole Miss was shot down by the suits in Tampa.
This is the same Outback Bowl that screwed over a sixth ranked 10-2 Tennessee team in 2003, and has more than once made questionable choices based on wins and losses, sending Kentucky and South Carolina to Tampa over teams with better records.
If Auburn heads to Tampa, what does it mean for Tennessee?
You'd think the Vols would do no worse than the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, a place (unlike Tampa) they haven't been since 2003. However...should Georgia Tech beat Clemson in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday, a Clemson-Georgia matchup would be very enticing, based on the traditional rivalry and UGA's proximity to Atlanta. Will they care about the fact that Clemson would be 8-5, unranked and losers of two straight, while Virginia Tech will be 9-3 and possibly in the Top 10? Who knows.
If I were a betting man, I'd say that if Georgia Tech beats Clemson on Saturday, you'll see Georgia-Clemson in Atlanta, and the Vols will still find a way to head towards the Music City or Liberty Bowls, sending VT to the Gator Bowl. If Clemson wins the ACC title game, you'll see Tennessee-Virginia Tech in Atlanta.