Tennessee to take on North Carolina in Music City Bowl

Tennessee to take on North Carolina in Music City Bowl

December 5th, 2010 by Wes Rucker in Local Regional News

KNOXVILLE - A wild weekend full of rumors, albeit most of them legitimate, ended Sunday night where it started.

The University of Tennessee football team will end its season with a Dec. 30 Music City Bowl game against border-foe North Carolina.

But that almost didn't happen, thanks to a seemingly-annual weekend full of surprising twists and turns in the Southeastern Conference's bowl selection process.

"There was a little bit of a curveball that kind of came up this week," UT men's athletic director Mike Hamilton said.

And it came from a familiar source: The Outback Bowl.

The Outback, which had the chance to take SEC Eastern Division champion and conference title game loser South Carolina, again ignored the pecking order - which is allowed but not encouraged - and selected East runner-up Florida. The Gator Bowl, which wanted Florida, then had the option to take UT or Mississippi State, assuming South Carolina accepted its bid to the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Several Gator Bowl representatives were enticed by the notion of a UT-Michigan game to draw big TV numbers on New Year's Day, where it competes directly against the Capital One and Outback. UT's administration was potentially in a bind, because it's bad business to turn down a New Year's Day bowl game but made much more sense on many levels to stay with the Music City.

The curveball ultimately straightened. UT stayed in-state after Mississippi State accepted an invitation to the Gator.

"We think the opportunity to close out this season being back in Nashville again," Hamilton said. "I know it's a neutral site, but I think we can all assume that stadium will be full of a lot of orange, and to play a bowl game in front of that setting will be special to our team."