OK, in the cold light of…midnight, let’s have a look at the reality of the situation, and acknowledge one truth: this is a down year for the SEC. Under normal circumstances, this Vandy team never breaks 5 wins all year, let alone beats SC and Auburn and knocks off Kentucky on the road (only the third win in 13 tries against the Mild Cats, who we actually pwn much more in basketball these days…my God did I just say that!?). And yet, the Mississippi State and Duke games were winnable…under optimal conditions, we could be sitting on 8 wins with 2 to play and that would probably put us…but no sense worrying about that. So let’s look at the SEC:
1st tier: ALABAMA and FLORIDA. National championship contenders; the BCS Semi-Final is basically the first week of December in Atlanta.
2nd tier: GEORGIA and LSU. Each lost to both teams above; both are legit top-25 teams and nothing to hang your head over, but they are clearly the next level down.
3rd tier: honestly, at this point, it’s a bunch of skells. South Carolina, Kentucky, Ole Miss…and Vanderbilt, which has beaten all three of them.
4th tier: Mississippi State, Arkansas, and (warm glow of joy) AUBURN, which has to beat Bama on the road to be bowl-eligible, and TENNESSEE, the worst team in the conference, who has already fired their coach, lost to Wyoming at homecoming, and is guaranteed a losing season and their worst record in decades.
Now, if you look at the bowl tie-ins, it goes like this (Cassius Clay rules in effect for names of bowls)
6th/7th: Liberty/Music City
9th: that nubbins bowl in Birmingham named after a pizza website
The way it works is that the Citrus bowl gets the second-best team in the SEC by record. They can also pick a team within one win of that record. This is basically to allow some flexibility if the SEC title game loser is legitimately worse than the second-best team in the other division.
Then the Cotton Bowl gets first pick of the SEC West’s remaining teams, the Outback gets first pick from the East, and the Peach gets a pick left over from either side.
Then the two Tennessee bowls rank the remaining bowl-eligible teams in order of preference, and if their first choices are different, they get them. If they want the same team, that team basically picks whether they’d rather play in Nashville before New Years’ Day or Memphis after.
Then the sludge bowls pick. Honestly, the odds that the SEC will have nine teams eligible for bowls…well, it’s actually still mathematically possible, as Vandy made 8…but never mind that.
Now even if the Dores don’t win another game the rest of the way, they are legitimately at least the fifth or sixth team in the conference, based on the tiebreaks they have with the other 3-conf-win SEC teams head-to-head.
But if the Dores win out to hit 8-4, they would definitely be 5th in the conference overall, at the top of Tier 3. And right now, it looks like both Bama and Florida will wind up in the BCS bowls irrespective of the SEC title game result, assuming they beat their principal rivals Thanksgiving weekend. (I’m taking as read that Florida will do unspeakable things to Citadel next week.)
Long story short (too late, I know): if the SEC gets two teams in the BCS, and Vandy wins out, the Commodores could break their 26-year postseason drought playing on January 1, 2009.
Read that last sentence again.
I feel faint.