Dec 31, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs players celebrate after beating Rice Owls at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Mississippi State Bulldogs beat Rice Owls 44 – 7. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Something that hasn’t been talked a lot about is the new selection process for SEC bowls in 2014, but we definitely need to discuss it.
It could ruin a potentially great season for the Bulldogs.
Currently, the bowl selection process can screw a good SEC team. We experienced that in 1999 when a 7-4 Georgia team surpassed our 9-2 team for the Outback Bowl. Vanderbilt experienced it this year when they were sent all the way down to the BBVA/Compass Bowl in Birmingham. But the new process could really mess up a team.
With the BCS now gone, the SEC has contracts with 9 bowls outside of the new playoff format. I think it is pretty safe to assume that at last one team from the SEC will find its way into that playoff each year. If that is the case, there will be bowl spots guaranteed for 10 SEC teams that reach bowl eligibility. The top hasn’t changed. The Capital One Bowl will still get the first pick of teams. After that is where everything changes.
The next six bowls are going to pick the team they want in cooperation with the league office. Those six bowls are the Outback, Music City, Gator, Liberty, Texas, and Belk Bowls. After those six bowls pick, the Birmingham Bowl will have the first pick of remaining teams. Then, the Advocare Bowl (formerly Independence Bowl) will get the last team. So how could this hurt State?
Let’s say Auburn runs the table and gets their way back to the playoff. Just taking an educated guess, but I am thinking LSU, Alabama, Texas A&M, and Ole Miss will join us as Bowl Eligible teams in the West. Over in the East, I would go with Missouri, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. Just a guess but with James Franklin bolting to Penn State, I think Vanderbilt takes a step back. I think a 10-2 season is very possible next year. Let’s say Alabama finishes with a record around that as well. The Capital One Bowl will scoop them up. That means we have to get picked from the next six bowls. Of the teams listed that I think will reach bowl eligibility, Mississippi State and Ole Miss will be at the bottom of those bowls’ wish lists. Since there isn’t anyway to tie how you finish to a bowl anymore, that would send us to Birmingham or Shreveport.
Maybe I am being too pessimistic, but unless the Kentuckys and Vanderbilts of the world make bowls, I don’t see any way that this bowl selection process doesn’t screw up a potential dream season for Mississippi State.