A few reads of interest to pass along to you guys today regarding bowl selections, MOAR conference realignment, and coach hirings/firings.
- From late last night, here is a chat between the BBVA Compass Bowl's Executive Director, Mark Meadows, and the Daily Journal's Parish Alford. In it, Meadows told Alford the following with regards to Ole Miss and their becoming bowl eligible by winning the Egg Bowl:
"We share the eighth and ninth pick with the Liberty Bowl. This year we actually pick ahead of the Liberty Bowl. With Ole Miss becoming bowl-eligible on Saturday it did assure us of having an SEC team in our game. We certainly are very interested in Ole Miss being here. I don't know of any scenario where we would take another team in place of Ole Miss."
Many Some will point to this report simply stating the Director's preference, and this is not a definite guarantee of Ole Miss being selected by the Birmingham Bowl game come Sunday by any means. But as of right now, this seems to be the clearest indication for any of the three teams vying for similar bowl spots - OM, Vandy, and State - as to where they might end up bowling.
- Add to Alford's chat with the Compass Bowl the latest from Brad Locke. Locke today chatted with Gator Bowl President Rick Catlett, who told Locke that he expects to choose between Vanderbilt and Mississippi State as the SEC representative in his bowl game this year. Also, for those worried about Ole Miss leaping Vanderbilt or State to take the Gator Bowl, Catlett had this to say:
"We will not pass (up) an 8-4 team for a 6-6 team," Catlett said. "That's just an integrity thing. It's usually a bowl deal where if you've got a guy with two less wins, you really don't do that. It'd have to be really strange circumstances for us to do that. And we did it one time, and the year we did it was when (Florida State's) Bobby Bowden announced he was going to retire. It was going to be his last game. That's a pretty big circumstance to change your policy."
So, what do these two chats with Bowl reps tell us? Well, nothing concrete really. They seem to point to favorite choices for both bowls, but in the end the possibilities for selections by both bowls are still wide open. After reading both, though, I feel that the selection may shake out as follows:
Ole Miss to the Compass
Vanderbilt to the Music City
MSU to the Gator
My reasoning is this: if I am the Music City, why wouldn't I want Vanderbilt? Sure, that may hurt hotels who generally see increased business for this bowl, but the primary objective of the bowl reps is to sell tickets, and I would think the Commodore faithful would certainly do that. They may sell tickets to any bowl game, yes - given their strong season and the general excitement surrounding the program right now - but one would think that in Nashville, just down the road from their own campus, Vanderbilt would sell exponentially more tickets than they would, say, 10 hours away in Jacksonville, Florida. The Chick Fil A Bowl still seems like a possible destination for Vandy as well, and probably more so than the Gator does, but that may hinge more on where teams in front of State and Vandy - teams like LSU and Texas A&M - end up.
- Southern Miss has fired head football coach Ellis Johnson after one - count them, ONE - full season at the helm of the Golden Eagles. Granted, that one season ended in Southern's worst finish ever, at 0-12, but that seems hardly enough time for anyone to prove their worth. Despite that fact, Southern fans have always expected more than they really should, so Johnson's firing should come as no surprise. He will get picked up as a defensive coordinator somewhere without a doubt, just give it time. With a $ 2.1 million dollar buyout, though, he may not have any rush to get a job anytime soon. We don't know if State will make any coordinator changes this off-season, but if they did, I would imagine many State fans would love to see Mullen go after Johnson, who coached here just a few short seasons ago under Sylvester Croom. There is no indication either way whether Johnson would ever consider such a move, but it is a thought certainly worth pondering.
- Kentucky Sports Radio, a well respected publication with regards to Kentucky athletics, is reporting this afternoon that Kentucky has hired Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops as its new head football coach. Well, that was fast, and a seemingly huge turn around from yesterday when it was reported that Stoops, along with multiple other coaches, had all turned the job down. Big get by the Wildcats if it does prove to be true.
- In the mad dash that is conference realignment, the Big East became the latest to add new toys to its chest today, as Tulane and East Carolina are set to join the conference. There are reports that when these two officially join in the future, that the Big East will feature nine former Conference USA teams. Amazing. Why not just call it the 'New Conference USA'? Because, silly, the TV $$$ wouldn't be 10x higher then.