Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan stated Monday afternoon that his selection committee is still in the process of evaluating teams from the ACC, Big East, and additionally Notre Dame.
The ACC has tie-ins to the Discover Orange Bowl (#1 selection - BCS), Chick-Fil-A Bowl (#2), Champs Sports Bowl (#3), Meineke Car Care Bowl (#5), Music City Bowl (#6), and Eagle Bank Bowl (#8). The conference is no longer affiliated with the Emerald Bowl and Gator Bowl, and those have been replaced by the Independence Bowl (#7) and the Hyundai Sun Bowl (#4). Also, if there are not enough eligible Pac-10 teams, the ACC has a conditional spot in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
Virginia Tech and Florida State will battle this weekend in the ACC title game, and if Virginia Tech loses they are obligated to participate in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl because at 8-0 the league's two-game rule prevents the bowl from selecting another team over the Hokies.
Previously Sun Bowl representative John Folmer informed Pack Pride that he believed the Chick-Fil-A Bowl could release all other teams to the remaining bowls which would allow for selections to be made earlier this week. However, Hogan stated he has yet to hear of that happening.
"I talked to the commissioner of the ACC earlier today and there was none of that discussed," said Hogan. "I'm sure the Chick-Fil-A Bowl could decide that they would be pleased to take the loser of the title game, but we have not been informed of that decision, and I don't know that they would do that.
"Because we pick after the Chick-Fil-A Bowl we can only wait until they reach a decision on their teams and then react from there."
One potential holdup could be what the Chick-Fil-A Bowl wants to do with its SEC selection. Most believe bowl officials are leaning towards selecting Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are 8-4, travel extremely well, and haven't played in Atlanta since 1999. South Carolina and Florida are also possible options for the bowl.
"We're not bound to take the loser," Chick-Fil-A Bowl rep Jack D'Arcy told The Columbus Dispatch over the weekend. "We could take the third-place team."
For that to happen Virginia Tech would need to win the title game and the Chick-Fil-A Bowl would probably have to select Florida. If they opted for Florida, Chick-fil-A Bowl president Gary Stokan has already publicly stated they would not rematch the Gators with Florida State.
Doing so would open the door for another team to face Florida and potentially allow the Seminoles to take on Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl.
"I certainly can't speak for Gary [Stokan] and his staff, but I would imagine there are some scenarios where they could take a team not playing in the ACC title game," said Hogan. "That's why we are taking the approach of gearing up to make our final decision after all of the games have taken place this weekend. We have a pool of teams and we will go from there."
Regardless, Hogan acknowledges that his bowl has quality options. With their ACC selection it sounds like NC State (8-4, 5-3) and Maryland (8-4, 5-3) may have an edge on Miami (7-5, 4-4) and North Carolina (7-5, 4-4).
"Obviously Virginia Tech is not an option for us but Florida State could be should they lose in the title game," said Hogan. "With nine wins and six in the ACC, I would think they are also a strong option for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
"If Florida State is out of the picture then you have NC State and Maryland as eight-win teams, and a couple of 7-win teams in Miami and North Carolina. I'd say the 8-4 teams are right in the middle of it for us. We're looking to land a very solid, winning team."
Some feel a Miami-Notre Dame matchup would be enticing to the Champs Sports Bowl, but the Hurricanes fired head coach Randy Shannon over the weekend. How does the bowl view coaching changes?
"It's certainly a factor that you look at," said Hogan. "I don't think you can ignore it, but at the end of the day the bowl is a reward for the players. It's a factor, but it probably comes somewhere further down the list.
"We've had teams here before that have had coaching changes, and it's not the best of things... but it's not an automatic decline. It's just something you have to look at and take into consideration. Probably the best way of putting it is that is a factor you may look at more closely if all other factors are equal between teams."
With NC State and Maryland having identical records, one factor that could favor the Terps is their recent head-to-head win over the Wolfpack. However, Hogan stated that while it is a factor, a head-to-head victory is just one of several.
"It's an important thing, but there are a host of other factors that we are going to look at," said Hogan. "When teams have identical records I believe you want to look at the body of work... their overall season. What quality wins did they have? Where are they in relation to the polls? Factors like that, travel, and other scenarios go into the selection process, along with head-to-head wins which will be one of many things in the mix for us."
With its other pick the bowl is slated to select a Big East team, but most feel Notre Dame will be the choice now that the Fighting Irish have seven wins and can be chosen over one of the Big East programs. However, the Champs Sports Bowl is only allowed to select the Irish once in a four-year period, and they may save that pick for later if they can land a quality Big East team. Hogan said that has been far from finalized as West Virginia and South Florida are definitely still under consideration.
"It's fair to say that Notre Dame has played their way into consideration here with us," said Hogan. "However, I certainly don't want to rule out South Florida if they can defeat UCONN, and then you obviously have West Virginia who still has a chance to get to 9-3. A team with nine wins would definitely be attractive to us, and West Virginia is currently ranked which is a positive.
"I think you can say we're still looking at those three teams opposite the ACC."
All any of the teams under consideration can do now is wait.