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Vandy Fans, Once Again, Let’s Talk About Bowl Selections (And SEC TV Ratings)

yelling-hard-drive-latencyYa try to explain something to folks and they just get mad.  Yesterday we tried to explain how Vanderbilt — with an 8-4 record — wound up in the SEC’s very last bowl slot.  Allow us to summarize:

 

*  The bowl selection process has never been fair and it’s never been about “rewarding” teams.

*  Bowls pick teams for tourism purposes.

*  Goal One is to bring in a large group of fans for a week in December or January.

*  Goal Two is to reach as many television viewers as possible in an attempt to woo more tourists throughout the year.

 

Seems pretty simple.

But a couple of VU fans didn’t like that.  You can check the comment boxes here.  And the ol’ MrSEC.com inbox got a few nastier notes that our “curse” filters wouldn’t have allowed in the comment areas.  Apparently we at MrSEC have an “anti-Vanderbilt agenda.”  One person informed this writer in particular that I’m “jealous of graduates of the only true University in the Southeastern Conference.”

Ahoy, polloi!

So what… the bowls all share our “anti-Vanderbilt agenda?”  Either that or what we stated as facts yesterday are, ya know, correct.

We’re going with the latter and here are a couple of reasons why:

 

1.  The Liberty Bowl — which chose 6-6 Mississippi State over the 8-4 Commodores — posted on the game’s Facebook page a photo of the Bulldogs playing in the 2007 Liberty Bowl.  That game set an attendance record for the game at 63,816.  Vandy’s game in Memphis two years ago drew 57,103.  And while VU fans continue to spout numbers like 30,000 as a true attendance figure for their Liberty Bowl appearance, the reality is the school did sell out its allotment of tickets (13,000) with everything else being a guesstimate.  The Nashville City Paper wrote at the time: “(James) Franklin was impressed with the Commodore contingency that accounted for nearly 60 percent” of the crowd.  Cincinnati wears black just like Vanderbilt, so trying to decide which team black-clad fans were rooting for would probably be a bit difficult from a pressbox.  But even if VU did take 30,000 to Memphis, MSU’s game with UCF in 2007 still drew more folks to the Bluff City.

2.  Television ratings haven’t helped Vandy’s cause, either.  As we noted yesterday, “Decades of losing have made Vanderbilt less than must-watch viewing for most national sports fans.”  If you want to sell your city to millions of television viewers you need — wait for it — a game that will draw in million of television viewers.  The Commodores’ last two bowl games have ranked last and next-to-last in SEC game viewership.  Vanderbilt’s Music City Bowl matchup with NC State last season ranked 29th out of 35 holiday contests last year.  More national viewers tuned in to watch Central Michigan/Western Kentucky in the Little Caesars Bowl, UL-Lafeyette/East Carolina in the New Orleans Bowl, and SMU/Fresno Sate in the Hawaii Bowl to name a few.  Oh, and Mississippi State’s Gator Bowl date with Northwestern drew in 200,000 more viewers as well.  (The Bulldogs also drew more TV eyeballs than he Dores the season prior.)

 

Much has been made of the Gator Bowl selecting a rematch of last year’s Capital One Bowl between Georgia and Nebraska.  It’s been pointed out to us (in both the comment areas and in emails) that UGA didn’t sell out their bowl allotment last year.

But if you check the top table below you’ll find that Georgia/Nebraska was last year’s 5th-highest rated bowl.  Hmmm.  Still wondering why the Gator Bowl would pick the Dawgs and Huskers over say Vanderbilt and Nebraska?

Once again, none of this is to say Vanderbilt didn’t get a sca-rew job.  It did.  But the reasons are fairly obvious to anyone who doesn’t sign his emails, “Anchor Down!”  Vandy doesn’t have a reputation (yet) for selling out bowls or its regular season games (in a 40,000-seat stadium).  The Commodores are also a poor TV draw when it comes to their last two bowl games.  VU fans may hate those facts.  They might not like someone sharing those facts.  But they just sound silly if they continue to try and argue those facts.

Below are the television ratings for all the SEC bowls over the last two years…

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