That's right, for the third straight bowl trip, Vandy gets a bowl game in the state of Tennessee as we'll be playing in the Music City Bowl, most likely against NC State.
Though it hasn't been officially announced yet, the end result was clear when the Gator Bowl announced that Mississippi St. would represent the SEC there. Though Vanderbilt realized that we had little chance at the Gator Bowl (for reasons to be explained later), the hope was that we'd see South Carolina in the Gator Bowl clearing the way for Vandy to the Chick-fil-A (neé Peach) Bowl.
Vandy's hopes to actually, you know, travel to a bowl took a big hit last night when Wisconsin (who was slated for the Gator Bowl) knocked off Nebraska to take the Rose Bowl spot. This was expected to push everyone in the Big 10 down a bowl which would have sent Northwestern to the Gator Bowl. Northwestern in the Gator Bowl would have set up a possible rematch between us, which bowls usually go out of their way to avoid. The clear choice would then be for the Gator Bowl to choose Mississippi St. over us, since the drop would have been greater if they had taken the next Big 10 team.
There was a brief moment when it looked like Northwestern (due to Nebraska's uninspired play last night, as well as in last year's Capital One Bowl) would skip Nebraska to the Capital One Bowl, which would have increased our chances at either the Chick-fil-A (due to possible rematches for USC at both the Outback and the Chick-fil-A) or at least to the Gator. But those hopes died when the Big 10 stuck their meddling hats on and cajoled the Capital One into taking Nebraska. This set up a chain reaction pushing Northwestern to the Gator Bowl.
Once Northwestern was in the Gator Bowl it meant we would not be. So then our only hope of leaving Tennessee was the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Clearly, it would have been slightly odd for us to get the Peach Bowl over a 10-2 team, but it was possible if USC fell to there since they would have been a rematch for Clemson.
However, that didn't happen either as the Outback (for some reason) chose USC over LSU. That was since been announced officially since, but since the next choice was the Gator, the writing was on the wall once the Gator announced that Mississippi St. rather than USC was playing there.
Clearly choosing one 8-4 team over another is not a federal case, and we can't be too disappointed that we didn't get to beat out a 10-2 team for a trip to the Peach Bowl. But it is a big disappointment for Vandy fans who see an 8-4 record now get the same bowl we got when we were 6-6 in 2008. (We'll be the first team SEC team with a winning conference record to go to the Music City Bowl since 2003.)
The game will be played on New Years Eve at 11 a.m. CST. Official announcement by the school will be at 7 p.m. at the Bowl Selection Celebration at the student life center (so get there if you can) and it's not clear if the Music City Bowl people will make an official announcement before hand.
Still for Vandy fans, even ones that are really annoyed (as am I), to remember that we're going to our second consecutive bowl for the first time ever, and we just found out that James Franklin has another extension and more facilities coming. So it is a time to remember how much better off Vandy is now than we really could ever have expected so soon.
Check back here soon for the official announcement of our opponent, details on James Franklin's reported extension, and analysis leading up to the bowl game.