Josh Kendall

What the Outback Bowl says about the Gamecocks

Outback Bowl president Jim McVay would “love” to see South Carolina playing in his game, but he’s no more certain of that happening than any other college football fan, he told The State on Wednesday.

“We’ve had a good relationship with Ray Tanner and the Gamecocks for years and years,” McVay said. “There’s lot to like there and Coach (Will Muschamp) is doing a terrific job. Jeez. He’s really got them going in the right direction.”

The Jan. 1 Outback Bowl, which is played in Tampa, Fla., has become the most frequently predicted landing spot for the Gamecocks (8-4) this postseason. The game matches an SEC team against a Big Ten team, and a Wednesday report from college football reporter Brett McMurphy indicated that it was “nearly” a lock that the Big Ten representative would be Michigan.

A South Carolina-Michigan game would be a rematch of the game the featured The Hit, the play in which Jadeveon Clowney forced and recovered a Vincent Smith fumble on the way to a 33-28 Gamecocks victory.

“It was a heck of a football game that went down to the last couple seconds,” McVay said. “I think everybody had a good time, everybody had fun.”

South Carolina has played in the Outback Bowl four times and every trip has been “A-plus” from the bowl’s perspective, McVay said.

“Gamecock fans are some of the best in the nation,” he said. “You talk about loyal fans that love their team. This is really good stuff.”

Still, McVay pointed out that his bowl won’t be able to make a pick until Sunday, after the final CFB Playoff rankings have been announced.

“We’re like everybody else in the bowl business, we’re hurrying up and waiting. We are all at the mercy of this process,” McVay said. “We love South Carolina. We like a lot of teams. There’s a lot out there to like, but nobody can do anything about anything right now. We don’t know which teams are going to be available for us to like or not like.”

The scenario that has South Carolina landing in Tampa would include the top three SEC teams – Auburn, Alabama and Georgia – sharing one spot in the CFB Playoffs and two spots in the New Year’s Six bowl games and LSU (9-3) being selected by the Citrus Bowl.

“Until the games have been played and we know what the final CFB Playoff looks like, this is all fun speculation and that’s all part of the business,” McVay said, “but there’s no resolution anywhere.”