Bowl game speculation isn’t what it used to be

Ole Miss defensive line coach Chris Kiffin emerged hot and sweaty from the workout area of the basketball practice facility earlier this week.

I didn’t get to ask him if he was lifting or hooping because he started the conversation quickly.

“Where do you think we’re going?” he asked.

The bowl trip is on his radar, and it should be a good one.

Ordinarily this would be a week of bowl speculation for Ole Miss.

There is some of that, but it’s a different day with the selection committee choosing the pairing for the six major games.

There have been several projections for 9-3 Ole Miss in one of those games, mostly to the Cotton, but I’ve seen Peach projections too.

Relative to the Peach and Cotton, the Rebels will just go where the committee sends them.

Like everyone else, “We’ll just wait by the phone,” says Charlie Fiss, director of media relations for the Cotton Bowl.

If Ole Miss makes the Cotton it would be the Rebels’ fourth trip to Dallas in 12 years. In the past that familiarity possibly could have tilted the Cotton to another team even though there’s been a complete turnover of players and coaches from the Ole Miss perspective. Almost complete. D.T. Shackelford was a member of that 2009 team.

“We love Ole Miss and have really enjoyed hosting the Rebels in our game through the years,” Fiss said.

There’s no beach in Dallas, but I promise you Ole Miss players and coaches would have their best experience at the Cotton Bowl.

With the new process there’s no back room bickering, no worrying about what hotel rooms get filled or about someone’s feelings.

That changes if the Rebels slip past the Big Six.

Then the SEC gets involved in “assigning,” and the old feelings come into play.

If the Rebels don’t make it into the Peach or Cotton my guess is the Outback. The Citrus gets the first pick of the non-Big Six SEC teams.

Assuming a Missouri loss to Alabama in the championship game, the SEC will have to decide whether it values Ole Miss’ resume or Missouri’s Eastern Division title.

It would seem an easy pick, but to pick against Missouri would mean lessening the status of an East title – although that’s lessened in the minds of most folks anyway.

There was a time when the East title was more valuable – the Florida, Tennessee, Georgia years. Maybe it swings back that way one day. It’s not there now.

The Outback, TaxSlayer (Gator), Music City, Texas, Belk and Liberty bowls comprise what the SEC calls it’s “pool of six” games. Presumably there’s no order there.

The four playoff teams will be announced at 11:45 a.m. Sunday on ESPN. I guess the committee goes to lunch then. The remainder of the Big Six bowls – including Cotton and Peach – are not announced until 1:45 p.m.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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