The response was immediate as it was predictable:
Outback Bowl Hates SEC East, American Values — But Loves Auburn
And now, playing the in the Outback Bowl after going 2-5 in the two months of the season with wins against Furman and Ole Miss and losses to Kentucky AT HOME and Georgia and Arkansas on the road …
The Auburn Tigers? …
Now the Tampa-based bowl has taken the 7-5 SEC team least likely and some would say least qualified for the bowl. The Outback, generally considered a bowl for an SEC East squad, had to pass over Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky to select the Tigers. And if you’re going to ignore late-season losing streaks, why not at least invite a team in South Carolina that defeated its hate rival? …
Barring involvement by Mike Slive and Co., though, it’s likely that Arkansas, Georgia and South Carolina will be left fighting for the last three spots. I can’t imagine the Liberty passing up a chance to take the Dawgs, and the Independence’s best draw would probably be Arkansas. That leaves South Carolina looking at a trip to Birmingham for the Papajohns.com Bowl.
Few of those destinations seem terribly fair. But that was apparently the last thing on the mind of the Outback Bowl when it chose to go with Auburn.
That’s TSK’s cocknfire, a Gamecock fan. Vol fans of various stripes were, of course, also less than pleased … nevermind that we have good reason to believe that Tennessee was offered the Outback slot first and for whatever reason didn’t work things out with the bowl’s officials. (Worth noting here that not every Vol supporter decided it was time to break out the vintage whine.) Response from the Dawg corner of the blogosphere was to call Auburn “the weakest of the SEC’s six 7-5 teams” and call for the SEC to desert its longstanding relationship with the bowl.
In response to these critics, I would like to start by saying:
Seriously. Auburn is 7-5; the Vols and ‘Cocks are Dawgs are 7-5. If they wanted to lock up a bowl bid ahead of Auburn, it’s not too tough to figure what they should have done: win more games than Auburn. (That goes double for Tennessee, for obvious reasons.) It’s not rocket science: the teams that did that got better bowl bids than Auburn did. If your team didn’t, well, then it was throwing itself on the mercy of a bowl system we all know has been erratic, political, and yeah, occasionally outright unfair since the day it was created. Beat a mediocre Pac-10 team at home, or Kentucky at home, or any SEC team you played on the road, and we’re not having this conversation, are we?
Besides: Auburn is every bit as “deserving” as any of the 7-5 SEC teams anyway, for two particular reasons.
First, and this bears repeating: “deserve”‘s got nothin’ to do with it in the first place. I’m stunned that after years and years of being told by pundit, blogger, and even bowl officials that the comprehensive bowl selection criteria as used by bowls are as follows*:
1. Which team will sell the most tickets
2. Which team will draw the highest TV ratings
3. See Nos. 1 and 2
that we’re apparently still getting our collective panties in a wad over what’s “fair.” If you want to argue that a different team would sell more tickets or draw bigger buzz and that the Outback is making a financial mistake, fine. If you want to take the SEC to task for not instituting a rule like the Pac-10’s where bowls are forbidden to take teams that finished below other available teams in the standings, be my guest. But getting angry at the Outback Bowl for taking Auburn because Auburn doesn’t “deserve” it is like getting mad at the sun because it ought to rise in the West.
On top of that, the HOT RUMOR is that Jay Jacobs guaranteed the Outback a sizable sum of tickets sold, far more than Tennessee’s Mike Hamilton would agree to guarantee. If that’s the case, and you still think the Outback should have passed on Auburn because it’s the right thing to do or some such, I do hope you get that time machine in your garage working on functional and finally get back to England circa 1877, because clearly this age is a wee bit too ungentlemanly for you. Best of luck, chap!
Second: Auburn’s accomplished as much as any of the other 7-5 teams. It’s true: Auburn finished 3-5 in the SEC, and Georgia and Tennessee finished 4-4. But there’s something you should know about those records, something that’s pretty damn important:
Auburn didn’t get to play Vanderbilt.
In a normal season, not having one particular SEC team on the slate wouldn’t be a big deal–Vandy traditionally has some kind of company in the league cellar–but this season wasn’t normal. The ‘Dores were a de facto bye week this year, losing every SEC game they played by an average of 15 points and falling to Duke and Army outside of conference. Only three teams didn’t start this season with a functional 1-0 SEC record thanks to having Vandy on the schedule, and Auburn was one of them. (Alabama and Arkansas were the others.)
So you’ll forgive me if I think Auburn’s 3 wins were were worth every bit as much as Tennessee’s and Georgia’s 4. Don’t believe me? Here’s the six 7-5 teams ranked by the total number of SEC wins claimed by the teams each of them defeated this season, with the number claimed by the teams defeated on the road in parentheses (for example, Kentucky beat Auburn [3 wins], Georgia , and Vandy  for a total of 7):
1. Auburn, 11 (4)
2. Tennessee, 10 (3)
3. Georgia, 9 (3)
4. Arkansas, 9 (0)
5. Kentucky, 7 (7)
6. South Carolina, 7 (0)
Well, would you look at that. Huh. (Put another, maybe simpler way: Auburn is the only one of the 7-5 teams to beat two teams with four or more SEC wins, and of this group only Auburn and Kentucky managed to earn a win of that standard on the road.)
Don’t forget: that’s only looking at SEC competition. Thanks to the West Virginia win–you’ll notice the ‘Eers are sitting at 8-3 and No. 23 in the latest BCS standings after beating previously one-loss Pitt–Auburn did more outside of league play than any of Tennessee, Arkansas, or Kentucky.
Look, I’m not arguing that Auburn’s resume is better than Georgia’s (the best of the bunch by a hair, probably, taking nonconference accomplishments into account) or all that much better than anyone else’s in the 7-5 jumble. But to say that Auburn has somehow accomplished less than season than the likes of the Vols because of a one-game difference in the standings–when that difference can be chalked up almost entirely to “playing Vandy” vs. “not playing Vandy”** and Auburn won their big nonconference test–is flat ignorant. We shouldn’t even be talking “deserve,” but if we are, OK: Auburn deserves it, as much as anyone does.
(Specifically if P-Marsh’s report [as related by Jay] that Ole Miss and Tennessee were the other teams in contention. Head-to-head, yo. Now, why Georgia wouldn’t be in contention here, I don’t know, but if you’re just looking at those three, it’s an easy choice.)
(A quick note here about the “But they’ve only gone 2-5 in their last seven and one of those was Furman!” argument: I’m sorry, I missed the part where games in October and November count extra. If we’d known, maybe we could have moved that home game against Miss. St. to the end of the year instead.
The point of citing Auburn’s supposed “fade” down the stretch is I guess to argue that Auburn isn’t playing well right now and that despite early results other teams are better today … but that kind of ignores the fact that since pulling out of that midseason nosedive, Auburn’s beaten Ole Miss by double digits, lost by one score on the road at Georgia despite outgaining the Dawgs, and lost by one score vs. Alabama despite outgaining the Tide. Arkansas’s the only 7-5 team that’s outplayed Auburn over this particular stretch.)
I can understand why fans of other teams are hot and bothered. 7-5 seasons aren’t supposed to end in Shreveport or a bowl named after a pizza website. Last year South Carolina went 7-5 and wound up in Tampa; this year they’ve gone a more impressive 7-5, all told, and are probably off to Birmingham.
But there’s no way to make everyone happy when you’ve got six teams with identical records. Someone was always, always going to get the shaft; putting Tennessee or Georgia or whoever in the Outback wasn’t going to be any fairer to Auburn than putting Auburn in it is fair to them. What the bowls happen to be looking for when splitting hairs this fine is always going to be a roll of the dice, and Auburn’s number happened to come up. It’s not an injustice, it doesn’t make the Outback a joke, it doesn’t mean that it’s time to grab the torches and pitchforks. It is what it is, which is to say, bowl season.
So anyone with a problem with Auburn’s Outback invitation can take it up with, I don’t know, capitalism. We’ll be preparing for Wisconsin.
*This is someone out there’s joke rather than mine, but I’ve totally forgotten where I saw it or who I’m stealing it from. Sorry.
**No doubt that Tennessee, Carolina, and Arkansas supporters would point out that if Auburn got a bad break in not drawing Vandy, their teams caught a worse one in having to face both Florida and Alabama. To which I say, well, yeah. But if you ask me, figuring out what team’s accomplished the most, who has the best resume, is like picking teams for the NCAA Tournament: in the end, it’s not your overall strength-of-schedule as much as it’s simply who you beat, how good the teams your team defeated were. And accounting for the fact that Vandy was as big a gimme as SEC games can possibly get this year, Auburn beat better teams than the other 7-5 teams did. Period.
Joe Blow says
Where did the hot rumor start? I’ve been out of pocket this week. If I had to guess, an afternoon radio host?
Alex P in Smyrna G says
***AU also played LSU, which, with the exception of Les Miles forgetting for one week that football games are timed, is also clearly better than the 7-5 crowd.
I was thinking about the Vandy angle this morning. I think it does reasonably equate UGA’s/UT’s 4-4 conf record with our 3-5. Of course, I am a spiteful bastard so I prefer to say: CRY MORE, NOOBS!
I have to wonder why more people aren’t whining about Ole Miss. Sure, they’re 8-4, but that includes TWO wins over FCS teams (i.e. DII teams). Their other two OCC games are no great shakes either being Memphis and UAB. Not to mention, as Jerry did, that they also played Vandy.
As Comic Book Guy would say; “Easiest schedule ever”!
I like the break down Jerry. It seems to me that folks tend to forget why we have these same exact conversations every single year…..its always about the money. This year Auburn has a fan base that is excited about the new shape of the team (though they should always be this supportive good or bad) and seems very willing to travel, not that far, to see them play one last time this year. i don’t the same excitement is flowing from uga or arky. Plus even for the wins over there rivals, none of the other 7-5 teams took the number 2 team in the country to the wire. so the “how they are playing now” argument is kind of in favor of Auburn, even if we dropped 3 or the last 4 games (maybe). A month of rest and prep time should do well for Auburn in terms of performance. glad i have somthing to look forward to on new years day besides being hung over.
Let’s go outback tonight…
I’m gonna high five Kevin Barnes if I see him this week and scream War Eagle and he will remain confused and weird.
Joe, don’t know, but I’ve seen it a couple of places and the important thing is that it seemed to have been supported by that Andrew Gribble post I linked.
Marcus, I agree the Ole Miss sked it’s a joke, but even if we drop them into this discussion they were the only team other than ‘Bama/Florida to beat LSU. I don’t have a problem with the Cotton taking them, but I also don’t have a problem with the Outback (supposedly) nixing the Ole Miss-for-UT trade.
(Obviously. But I’m saying no one should.)
We deserve to be there as much as anyone else. Nice to see the good guys win for a change. And “moral” victories are not my cup of tea, but you gotta believe us giving Alabama all they wanted for 60 minutes and outplaying them for the better part of the game had a lot to do with us ending up in the Outback versus say, the Liberty. Compare that to Tennessee barely squeaking by supposedly inferior Kentucky at home and preseason #4 Ole Miss getting whipped by perenially rebuilding State, and I think the reasoning becomes a little clearer. IF those were the only teams along with us that the Outback folks were looking at. Don’t totally know either why Georgia wasn’t in the conversation too, but maybe the Outback considered them as repugnant as I do. Screw em. Next year that streak ends. Just very excited for this group of seniors after all they’ve been through the last couple of years to be able to play in a bowl that’s on New Years Day and also on that’s not 90 miles down the road from Auburn. Good for them. Let’s just not lay an egg like we did the last time against the Badgers. That game was U-G-L-Y.
War Damn Eagle!
I commented this on the other thread as well, but I thought I’d throw it here too: Don’t forget that Auburn runs a flashier offense and scores more points and piles up more yardage than any of the other 7-5 teams
It is entirely about the money so I don’t actually object to Auburn being there, but since you attempt to justify it otherwise, it should be pointed out that there are a couple major flaws in your argument. The biggest issue is that of the 7-5 teams, Auburn went 1-3 against them. UT doesn’t get to complain (and for the most part, they aren’t) because they didn’t beat Auburn, and South Carolina doesn’t really have much case as they didn’t play Auburn, but UK, Arkansas, and Georgia all showed they were the better team on the field. You can say that the teams Auburn beat have more wins than the teams the others beat, but in doing so, you have to acknowledge that part of the problem for the other teams is that they beat an Auburn team with only three wins.
I wonder how much the fact that we didn’t go to a bowl last year, factored into the whole ticket purchase. In other words, a resurgent AU team is going to have a very excited fanbase that will go out of their way to go to a bowl game and spend money. It’s not scientific, but all the Auburn people I talked to yesterday are planning on being in Tampa.
By the way, if you do go to Tampa, try to go to Bern’s Steakhouse, it is incredible.
TFiT, head-to-head only goes so far. OK, Kentucky beat Auburn–but Auburn beat multiple teams (Tennessee, Miss. St.) that beat them. Auburn lost to Arkansas, but beat Ole Miss, who beat Arkansas. Unless you’re looking at two teams or a very narrow grouping, head-to-head doesn’t prove anything any more than it did in the three-way Big 12 morass last year … unless you want to argue that by virtue of beating Ole Miss, Auburn should have gone to the Cotton Bowl instead. As for the “1-3 vs. the other 7-5 teams” stat, that’s an awfully convenient way of ignoring an Ole Miss win that few of the other 7-5 teams have duplicated. AND that’s not getting into nonconference accomplishments, which I think most fans would agree ought to have some bearing on determining who’s had the best season. The bottom line doesn’t change: top-to-bottom, Auburn’s done as much as any of the 7-5 teams.
As I tried to point out, the point isn’t that Auburn’s MORE deserving than the other 7-5 teams. Carolina and Kentucky, maybe. Not Georgia: I think the Dawgs have probably, strictly speaking, the best resume of the bunch. The point is that it’s so close and so hard to split hairs between these kinds of teams that moaning and whining about the way the bowls split those hairs is dumb.
Alex P in Smyrna G says
Soldier #1: Where’d you get the coconuts?
Arthur: We found them.
Soldier #1: Found them? In Mercia? The coconut’s tropical!
Arthur: What do you mean?
Soldier #1: Well, this is a temperate zone.
Arthur: The swallow may fly south with the sun or the house martin or the plover may seek warmer climes in winter, yet these are not strangers to our land?
Soldier #1: Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?
Arthur: Not at all. They could be carried.
Soldier #1: What? A swallow carrying a coconut?
Arthur: It could grip it by the husk!
Soldier #1: It’s not a question of where he grips it! It’s a simple question of weight ratios! A five ounce bird could not carry a one pound coconut.
Arthur: Well, it doesn’t matter. Will you go and tell your master that Arthur from the Court of Camelot is here?
Soldier #1: Listen. In order to maintain air-speed velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings forty-three times every second, right?
Soldier #1: Am I right?
Arthur: I’m not interested!
Soldier #2: It could be carried by an African swallow!
Soldier #1: Oh, yeah, an African swallow maybe, but not a European swallow. That’s my point.
Soldier #2: Oh, yeah, I agree with that.
Arthur: Will you ask your master if he wants to join my court at Camelot?!
Soldier #1: But then of course a– African swallows are non-migratory.
Soldier #2: Oh, yeah…
Soldier #1: So, they couldn’t bring a coconut back anyway…
[clop clop clop]
Soldier #2: Wait a minute! Supposing two swallows carried it together?
Soldier #1: No, they’d have to have it on a line.
Soldier #2: Well, simple! They’d just use a strand of creeper!
Soldier #1: What, held under the dorsal guiding feathers?
Soldier #2: Well, why not?
Good response WBE. And might I say, good job Jacobs.
Here’s what Jeff, who runs the VTTW (Tennesse) web site had to say
“Its a crime I tell you, a crime….Auburn beat UT but UT beat Georgia and Georgia beat Auburn. And Kentucky beat Auburn. Strangely enough, Auburn beat Ole Miss but Ole Miss beat LSU and beat the hell out of Tennessee. Of course Ole Miss lost to South Carolina but beat Arkansas who took Florida to the limit and lost to Georgia but beat South Carolina. So clearly, Tennessee should be in the Capital One.
Wait… what bowl are we talking about again? ”
I am glad that we are in the Outback Bowl (fingers crossed cause I just bought tickets and made hotel reservations) but if we ended up in the Pizza Bowl or the Weedwhacker Bowl, we’d have no cause to really complain.
WBE: The head to head is significant only because they accomplished the same records and because you are placing weight on the quality of the teams they beat but in doing so you are unfairly punishing them for beating the team you propose is on slightly better ground. In other words, if Auburn is “most deserving” by any margin, then beating Auburn should have a rewarding effect on their ranking in your system, rather than the punitive value that it has. Auburn is getting a LOT of mileage out of the Ole Miss win despite Ole Miss going .500 against the 7-5 teams. Also, it’s a bit disingenuous to suggest that getting to play an 0-8 team is more of an advantage than avoiding an 8-0 team. Georgia is the only one there who really gets away with anything as they avoid Alabama and get Vandy. The flipside of that is Arkansas had to play both undefeated teams, missed Vanderbilt, and beat Auburn. Why would Arkansas then not be worth more than Auburn here? Again, I’m not suggesting that Auburn should not get a bid to the Outback, only that if we remove money as a factor, other teams are more “deserving” if only slightly so.
Auburn got screwed a few years ago when you went undefeated. You got a gift with the Outback Bowl bid. I’d say karma fell your way with the wacky OB selection committee. Enjoy Tampa. I did a few years ago against Wisconsin. Make the SEC proud. As for my Dogs, no way do we deserve Shreveport after that beautiful game at Georgia Tech. But begging to go to Nashville is no way to go through life. 7-5 is miserable no matter who you are.
I love that first link.
Anybody that has a personal vendetta against a fast food corporation has lost all credibility in my book.
TFiT, what if we yanked all the Vandy wins for anyone out of my “system”? Auburn would still be sitting at 3 wins and would be as “valuable” as any other team … and they’d still be in front of any of the 7-5 teams save Georgia. Who I can admit might have the slightly better resume. Hell, I might admit the same about Arkansas–no question that the Hogs have played the most difficult SEC schedule of the 7-5 teams. But they also didn’t win a single SEC game away from home and two of their wins were against Carolina and Miss. St..
But yeah, I don’t think we really disagree all that much: we both admit that we’re splitting hairs here, right?
Alex P in Smyrna G says
If it’s a win over Ole Miss vs. a win over Vandy, then yeah, that’s a lot of WELL DESERVED mileage. This is a circular argument no matter how you cut it.
I think one thing is obvious: The Western division is clearly deeper than the East, which helps the Outback to choose a western team.
But why are you so concerned with deminishing AU getting this bid? Does that make the IB win or the second straight undefeated regular season any sweeter?
To me, of all the 7-5 teams, Arkansas is the only one who looks slightly more impressive than us, just because of their difficult schedule.
But screw them, they’ve already had their bowl game. They got to play Texas A&M in Cowboys stadium this year, when it still had that new-8th-Wonder-of-the-World smell.
WBE: We most certainly are splitting hairs, agreed. I’m not even interested with Auburn’s merit so much as the defense of it. To that end, my point is that Vandy offsets Florida/Alabama. So if we toss Vandy wins, we have to toss UF/UA losses as well, which gives South Carolina and Tennessee get to 3-2, while Auburn’s goes to 3-4, and Arkansas and UGA get to 3-3. In that scenario, Auburn has the only losing record — just as it currently does.
Alex P – This has nothing to do with Alabama and my intention is not to diminish anything. I’m only joining a friendly discussion on the topic of merit. Auburn in the Outback is not a better team than Auburn in the Independence Bowl.
BOO-HOO! IT’S NOT FAIR! I’m surprised the rest of the SEC hasn’t yet learned what Auburn fans have known for a good while, now: Division 1A football isn’t fair. In the words of the Vogon commander, “I’ve not sympathy at all.”
Kevin from Wisconsin says
Auburn is awful. Georgia just beat the number 7 team in the country and handled Auburn with no problem. People dont want to see Auburn they want to see a good game which would be Georgia vs. Wisconsin. This was Georgias weakest schedule in the past 5 years and it was still tougher than Auburns. I was gonna go watch the badgers do some work in the outback bowl but now that they are playing Auburn I will just wait til next years bowl game.
And here I was thinking that Wisconsinites were generally good people and all. Just goes to show you: no matter where you live, there’s always trolls about.
TFiT, one correction: tossing out Vandy and UF/UA leaves Carolina at 2-3, not 3-2. To the larger point, to me it’s not a question of what teams haven’t done (i.e. beat UF/UA), it’s what they HAVE done. And what Auburn’s done–beat WVU, Ole Miss, UT on the road, Miss. St.–is better than what many other 7-5 teams have done. Again, it’s not who you lost to, it’s who you beat. Maybe Arkansas and Carolina and the Vols had fewer chances, OK, but that doesn’t change the fact that the scalps they’ve got on the wall are not as nice as Auburn’s–and to me, that’s a lot more important than hypothetical “what if they hadn’t played UA/UF”?
WBE: That’s two sides of the same coin, though. If who Auburn beat is so significant, then beating Auburn is significant and has to be weighed for both sides. I’m certainly not saying Auburn is the worst of the group, only that of the 7-5 teams, I feel that Arkansas and Georgia (without giving much consideration to Kentucky, which might be a mistake) have a legitimate complaint in being passed over (again, only in terms of merit which has almost no bearing on who the bowls take). In terms of OOC wins, UGA’s win is bigger, and the way Arkansas beat a bowl-bound TAMU team at least gets the conversation past OOC accomplishments.
And of course, this is all academic. Congratulations to the Tigers on a good season, and good luck in the Outback Bowl. The last time the Badgers played an SEC team, they whined that the SEC played too rough. Remind them of that.
Look at my Cats’ win number on the road in the SEC!! Now if we could just win more at home… we’d be movin’ on up!
Good Luck to KY bred Chris Todd and the Tigers!
Chicks in Wisconsin are fat and ugly.
I’m not entirely convinced that Kevin from Wisconsin isn’t actually Kevin from the Trailerpark.
Bammers will take any and all opportunity to bash Auburn with concealed identities.
WildCobb, thanks. And yeah, I know you guys have to be kicking yourselves over that home loss to Miss. St.: win that and you’re in the Outback for certain, to say nothing of the agony of last Saturday. Best of luck to the ‘Cats in Nashville.
JRS, that’s the sort of vapid, negative comment I usually find repellent and worth deleting, but in this particular case I am intrigued by your claims and would welcome hearing more of your insights about the people of Wisconsin.
Auborange, not a bad guess, but his IP is from Wisky. He’s the real, sad thing.
Joe Blow says
Just heard the president of the Outback Bowl on the radio here in Birmingham. Of course, the first question they asked him was about the “hot rumor”. In short, he said that there was no guarantee, just having an SEC team in the game is guarantee enough, that Auburn has some of the best fans in the country, and they love Auburn’s style of play. In short, he shot the rumor down.