So with it now all but official that the Cats are headed back to Nashville (which in addition to the country music capital of the world, was also the location of a great Robert Altman film), it is time to focus on how we got picked for the Music City. Yesterday was a tense day around UK land, as chips fell that were unforseen and made Kentucky’s potential destination very murky in the early afternoon. Here is how it played out:
1. It had been assumed all week that Tennessee would be headed to the Outback Bowl, leaving Georgia in the Peach Bowl and the Cats in Music City. But then something happened (likely the guarantee of tickets sold) that led the Outback to switch gears and take Auburn. Despite the Tigers 2-5 record, the Outback went with the Tigers, thus avoiding a Tennessee-Wisconsin Outback rematch from two years ago, and putting Gene Chizik’s team in Tampa. The Cats had been considered for this slot, but were likely 2nd to UT, and thus became 3rd.
2. This threw off the plans for the Chik-Fil-A Bowl, who then jumped at the opportunity to take Tennessee over home state Georgia. The Bulldogs were destined for Atlanta until the Auburn jump and the Tennessee fall caused great rejoicing in the land of the Chicken sandwich…which meant…
3. That all of a sudden, the Music City Bowl had Georgia as a potential option, a thought that had not seemed likely, even the day before. This caused the Music City Bowl to consider possible options, including a Georgia-Florida State game that would be Bobby Bowden’s last, against one of his former assistants. While this prospect was being considered, the best thing that could have happened to UK occurred. The Gator Bowl decided to give Bobby his last bowl in Florida, thus moving FSU out of Music City consideration, and taking away this “dream” matchup. With the Bowden storyline gone, the Music City went with its best financial decision, taking the Cats…and forcing Georgia to fall to the Independence, thanks to Arkansas’s early agreement with the Liberty.
So the real loser in all this? It is Georgia, who fell from the Chik-Fil-A all the way to the Independence, thanks to the maneuvering of Auburn. The Cats ended up where they were likely to go, although there were some testy moments where folks wondered if that would still be the case. Now the Cats wait for an ACC opponent, which could potentially be a number of teams, ranging from the Clemson-Ga Tech loser to UNC or Miami. And Cats fans get a night game in Nashville right after Christmas. We all can be happy.