In one of the more intriguing bowl selection bids that the Vols have been involved in, Tennessee was chosen by the Music City Bowl for a December 30th date against the Tar Heels.
After Florida went to the Outback (who-you-know) Bowl, the Gator had a selection between Tennessee, Mississippi State, and South Carolina to consider. The ultimate factor to the Gator had to be their bid for a new sponsor; the brand-less bowl knew it had to compete against several other New Year's Day bowl games for TV viewership in a year where they'll be advertising themselves out, and Nielsen ratings are the ultimate money-driver in their upcoming quest for a partner. With that in mind, The Gator Bowl went with Mississippi State and Dan Mullen based on their 8-win record and hot-coaching-prospect-name, leaving South Carolina for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and Tennessee for the Music City Bowl.
Tennessee now faces off against North Carolina in a game that has two significant meanings to the team: the first is practice time - an asset that the Vols need perhaps more than any other team in the NCAA; the second is respect; after the carousel of coaches, the losing seasons, and the slew of various roadblocks the team has encountered, a bowl win against UNC would go a long way towards validating the November run that put Tennessee in the bowl picture at all.
The re-scheduling subplot will assuredly be driven into the ground in the run-up to the bowl game; with Tennessee having opted out of the UNC matchup for a Buffalo squad next year, we'll never hear the end of it as these two teams do finally play each other. Though the matchup is purely incidental to the earlier rescheduling events, we will at least see these two teams play once. That, on its own, is a good thing and will probably be worth the unfortunate publicity that the rescheduling will assuredly give Tennessee over the next few weeks.