Sunday, December 6, 2009

Pay Cut for UT and Tech, But the Chick-fil-A Matchup is Great

When Virginia Tech and Tennessee meet in their long-anticipated matchup in the Chick-fil-A (The Bowl Formerly Known as Peach) Bowl game Dec. 31 in Atlanta, their payout will be significantly less than the $20 million they were offered by Bristol Motor Speedway owner Bruton Smith for a game in 2005, but it's one of the better paydays for a secondary bowl.

Payouts range from $325,000 in the New Orleans Bowl and $398,000 in the Hawaii Bowl (Hawaii pays teams to come?!?) to the $17 million each for the BCS games. That huge payout is why there is such a scramble by teams like TCU and Boise State to be in the mix. Them's bucks, baby, even if they have to be shared with the teams' respective conferences. All the payouts are here.

This is one of two games where the participating conferences take home different paychecks. The ACC rep (Tech) gets $3.25 Large and the SEC check is $2.4 Mil. No idea why, though Tennessee has a 7-5 record and Tech is 9-3 in an inferior conference. Tennessee is a blocked field goal against undefeated and national championship game-bound Alabama and a fourth down yard against UCLA from being 9-3 in Lane Kiffin's first year--rebuilding from a 5-7 mark. Tech's record and third-place ACC finish is a dramatic disappointment for the Hokie Nation. There were visions of a national championship rematch against 'Bama swirling around in the Techies' heads a few weeks ago. Tech opened with a loss to the Tide.

Techies have a tendency to over-expect from their team, their conference and their national reputation. The local daily in Roanoke this a.m. made this hilarious statement: "Taken out of any long-shot consideration for a BCS bowl bid Saturday when unbeaten Boise State whipped New Mexico State, No. 11 Tech (9-3) will face ..." The paper didn't mention that this "long shot" would have likely required plane crashes for about nine teams. Tech finished third in a weak conference. Third. Third. Third.

Still, the Chick-fil-A gets a quality bowl here. It has a marquee name in Lane Kiffin, two teams with top-level national identification and a grudge match (from Tech's standpoint; it lost to Tennessee in 1994 by an embarrassing 45-24 at a time when the Hokies thought they'd arrived on the national scene). The teams are close enough to Atlanta to sell out the building and the all-alone slot on New Year's Eve assures that college football fans will be watching without distraction.

Late week speculation surrounding the Chick-fil-A was that if Clemson played well and lost a close ACC title game--and if its All-American running back had a great game--the Tigers would play Georgia in this game. That would have meant the bowl was run by morons, taking an ACC team with two straight losses and the worst Georgia team in many years, over an anticipated matchup that had already been announced by some top-rank publications (Atlanta Journal, for example) and by this blog (though the local daily didn't tell you until today). Can't butt heads with fromtheeditr, man!

Anyhow, those of us with UT or Tech ties have the best possible match we could have hoped for this bowl season. I have strong ties to both schools (Dad played ball at Tech) and my brother and son went to UT (where my brother was a quarterback). Now, if we can find a party.

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