A week ago it was a virtual certainty that the Tennessee Vols would stay in-state to play in Nashville's Music City Bowl. Since late Friday evening, however, that certainty devolved into nothing more than pure guesswork.
Late Saturday, it appeared the Vols were headed to the Gator Bowl as multiple reports indicated the Outback Bowl was set to throw a wrench into the proceedings by taking Florida instead of South Carolina.
That potential roadblock was supposed to set in motion a domino effect that would lead to the Gator Bowl taking Tennessee, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl taking South Carolina, and the Music City Bowl ending up with 8-4 Mississippi State.
In the end, the Gator Bowl could not pass up 8-4 and nationally ranked Mississippi State.
Tennessee will, instead, play the North Carolina Tarheels in Nashville in front of a decidedly Vols-partisan crowd.
Ultimately, it's a good thing for college football and the SEC that the Gator Bowl chose the Bulldogs over the 6-6 Vols.
As if college football didn't have enough perception problems with rewards, bowls and championships, a bowl picking a .500 Tennessee team over an 8-4, top 25 Mississippi State team all because of money would have brought increased scrutiny on the SEC and college football's already ridiculous postseason.
If that's not enough to convince you that the Vols are better off with a spot in the Music City Bowl, consider that all six of Tennessee's wins in 2010 have come inside the state of Tennessee.
The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl will start at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 30 at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee.
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