Talked with Gary Stokan, the president of the Chick-fil-A Bowl, tonight.
Projections that Georgia will be the SEC representative in the game are just that — projections. Stokan said he has no idea at the moment which SEC team will be in the game, what with half of the league — literally — sharing 7-5 records.
“It’s certainly going to be interesting this year,” Stokan said, “probably more than in any of the 12 years I’ve been doing this.”
But Stokan did say that Georgia’s upset victory over Georgia Tech on Saturday moved the Bulldogs onto the Chick-fil-A radar.
A week ago, the bowl had Auburn, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee on its watch list of SEC teams. The Dogs joined the list Saturday night, Stokan said.
“We will take them under consideration for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, certainly,” he said.
The decision will come by Sunday (Dec. 6), bowl selection day.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl gets its choice of SEC teams after the BCS title game, the Sugar Bowl, the Capital One Bowl, the Outback Bowl and the Cotton Bowl make their picks.
The BCS title game will get the Florida-Alabama winner; the Sugar Bowl the Florida-Alabama loser; the Capital One almost certainly LSU; and the Cotton and Outback probably (not definitely) Ole Miss and Tennessee.
If everything plays out that way, then the Chick-fil-A will pick from among Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Auburn and Arkansas.
All are 7-5 overall.
A case can be made for Georgia, or for just about any of the others. Georgia is 4-4 in the league — the other four are 3-5 — and finished ahead of Kentucky and South Carolina in the East. In head-to-head games, Georgia beat South Carolina, Auburn and Arkansas (but lost to Kentucky).
Part of the equation, too, is which SEC team would make the most logical match for whichever ACC team the Chick-fil-A gets, or vice versa.
While the Chick-fil-A Bowl likes to fill hotel rooms in the process of putting together an appealing game, Stokan said that wouldn’t be a factor against picking the Dogs. Indeed, the Chick-fil-A had Georgia Tech in its game last year.
And while Stokan did not indicate that Georgia — or anyone else — is at the top of the Chick-fil-A’s muddled list right now, he did say that he thinks the Bulldogs’ season was too harshly judged by some critics before the Tech game.
He noted that three of Georgia’s five losses came against teams that at one time were ranked in the top 12 of the BCS standings: Florida, LSU and Oklahoma State. And Tech was ranked No. 7 in the BCS when Georgia beat the Jackets on Saturday.
“I think Georgia has played one of the five toughest schedules in the country,” Stokan said.
Behind the Chick-fil-A Bowl in the SEC pecking order are Nashville’s Music City Bowl, Memphis’ Liberty Bowl, Shreveport’s Independence Bowl and Birmingham’s Papajohn’s.com Bowl.