Vols Appear Headed to Outback

Tennessee is not going to Orlando for New Year's Day. The Capital One Bowl instead selected Arkansas to play Big Ten representative Wisconsin by a landslide over Auburn. Tennessee finished a distant third in voting of almost 100 committee members.

Instead, Tennessee is going to the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., for the second time in the past 14 years. Tennessee's last appearance in Tampa was in 1992, when the bowl was known as the Hall of Fame. It was UT coach Phillip Fulmer's first bowl as head coach and the Vols routed Boston College.

Tennessee (9-3) will play Penn State (8-4) of the Big Ten. Kickoff for the Jan. 1 bowl is 11 a.m.

``It's official,'' said Dick Christian, a member of the Outback Bowl for the past 21 years.

After being informed the Capital One Bowl had taken Arkansas, Christian said he was surprised because he'd been led to believe the folks in Orlando would take Tennessee.

``Our choice is Tennessee,'' said Christian, after a conference call by Outback officials.

A source said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive had told the Outback to take an East Division team and the Cotton Bowl to take a West Division team. The Cotton took Auburn.

Tennessee had hoped to land a spot in the Capital One Bowl, which pays almost $5 million per team. But Capital One officials noted that Arkansas is the higher ranked team – No. 13 to No. 18 in the coaches' poll and No. 12 to No. 17 in the BCS rankings. Also, Arkansas has pre-sold 13,500 tickets compared to 7,000 for Tennessee, and Arkansas won the West Division and defeated Tennessee 31-14 last month.

Moreover, Capital One officials wanted to protect the loser of the SEC Championship game.

The BCS released Arkansas, Auburn and Tennessee to the Capital One after notifying officials that LSU would be taken as a BCS at-large team.

Arkansas (10-3) was an easy choice for the folks in Orlando, who felt the Hogs' resume was better than Auburn's. Auburn was 10-2 but lost a one-sided game to Houston Nutt's team. Also, Auburn played Wisconsin in Orlando last year and Capital One officials frowned on a rematch.

Wisconsin has sold its allotment of 12,000 and has requested another 1,000 tickets.


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