This is far from official. Virginia Tech still remains under consideration for an at-large BCS bowl berth. The Chick-fil-a Bowl cannot invite VT until the BCS releases the Hokies from consideration (which is actually expected to happen any day now). The Chick-fil-a Bowl gets first crack at all non-BCS ACC teams, though, so accepting the invitation if and when it comes is a no-brainer.
On the SEC side of things it's a little trickier. If it's true that the Outback selection committee really does have its sights on Auburn that means it's stepping outside of its affiliated division in the SEC. While the Outback Bowl would automatically get first selection of all remaining SEC East teams after BCS and Capital One Bowl selection, if the Outback picks an SEC West team it must wait for the Cotton Bowl selection (which has SEC West affiliation) before sending its invitation.
The logic here is straightforward, if a little involved:
- Florida and Alabama both get BCS bowls
- Capital One bowl selects LSU
- Cotton Bowl selects Ole Miss (Colonel Reb, however, has to catch the game on TV.)
- Outback Bowl crosses over to SEC West, selects Auburn
- Chick-fil-a Bowl selects from all remaining SEC teams
The field of SEC teams is pretty homogenous at this point. We have Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Arkansas all at 7-5. If the selection was based on merit alone, the Vols and Bulldogs are the only two teams without a losing conference record, and Tennessee beat Georgia.
But to be honest, Tennessee is the smart pick without even looking at records. For two teams that have played each other exactly once since World War II, there's quite a bit of hostility between Vols and Hokies, almost at rivarly-level. Part of this is that the two campuses are only 235 miles apart and the two states do (technically) border each other. Another part is the inherent SEC/ACC standoffishness. There has always been interest in the Vols and Hokies getting together on a regular basis, so much so that in 2005 Bruton Smith, owner of the 150,000 seat Bristol Motor Speedway offered the two schools $20 million apiece to participate in what would have undoubtedly become the highest-attended college football game in history (a proposal, coincidentally, that Virginia Tech showed a high degree of interest in, but that the University of Tennessee essentially ignored, killing the deal). While it looks like a regular-season UT/VT rivalry might never happen, when these two teams get together it's sure to be a spirited affair with massive fan base mobilization. And the Chick-fil-a Bowl knows that.
So if it's true that the Outback Bowl is interested in Auburn - the lynchpin in this whole scenario - then get ready to hear this in Blacksburg several times a day for the next month: