You just never know what's going to happen. That's why we love college football. In a matter of days, the Auburn football team has gone from nearly beating its heavily favored archrival to grabbing an invitation in a New Year's Day bowl. Not too shabby for an unheralded first year coach.
Tuesday's news of Auburn securing a spot in the Outback Bowl sounded almost too good to be true. As late as Monday night it appeared the Tigers were all but certain to be headed to Shreveport and the Independence Bowl. With six SEC teams sharing 7-5 records, there's no arguing Auburn came out the big winner among those teams. In the end, Auburn beat out both Tennessee and Ole Miss for the spot.
How Auburn officials pulled it off is the million dollar question tonight. Some may argue the point, but there's little doubt Friday's performance in the Iron Bowl persuaded Outback Bowl officials. But it didn't stop there. Auburn Undercover senior writer Phillip Marshall offered the best explanation for how Gene Chizik's first team landed the gig.
According to his sources, there were several things that pushed bowl officials toward Auburn. Despite having identical 4-4 conference marks (one better than Auburn), the Outback Bowl felt the Tigers were more deserving than Tennessee and Ole Miss because they defeated both schools in the regular season. Auburn's 3-5 conference mark apparently didn't hurt them in the end.
Another factor in choosing the Tigers are the number of Auburn graduates in the Tampa area. Bowl officials say Auburn has significantly more alumni and fans in the region than Tennessee and Ole Miss. Coming off the surprising Iron Bowl, Marshall said bowl officials felt Auburn fans would be motivated to buy more tickets than other schools.
The fact Auburn hasn't played in the game since 1995 was also a factor. Perhaps what hurt Tennessee most was the lack of tickets sold during the Volunteers last visit to the game. Auburn officials fully expect to sell its entire allotment of tickets.
The big loser in the Auburn bid appears to be Georgia. It now looks like Tennessee is headed to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl (instead of Georgia) and the Rebels are going back to Dallas for the Cotton Bowl. That leaves Georgia with few good options. They now have three possible destinations - Shreveport, Birmingham or Nashville.
I don't care who you are, that's funny!