Virginia Tech's possible bowl opponents include both schools embroiled in the Cam Newton mess, a traditional and occasionally loathed rival, the presumptive No. 1 pick of April's NFL draft and Frank Beamer's son.
The Chick-fil-A rates second on the ACC's postseason food chain and by contract can not select a team that finished more than two games behind another available team in the league regular season. So the Atlanta-based bowl must take the Hokies (10-2, 8-0 ACC) if they lose Saturday because all other possibilities would be 5-3 or worse.
Not that the waffle fries crowd would object. Tech fans travel en masse, especially to the Georgia Dome on New Year's Eve — the Hokies beat Tennessee there last season in what no one then realized was Lane Kiffin's Rocky Top farewell.
The Chick-fil-A's most likely Southeastern Conference representative this season is Mississippi State, where Newton has said he wanted to enroll. But his father insisted on Auburn, and Newton has quarterbacked the Tigers to a perfect regular season.
If Auburn defeats South Carolina in the SEC title game Saturday at the Georgia Dome, the Gamecocks would be a remote Chick-fil-A possibility. But would their fans be jazzed about returning to the same venue less than a month later?
A Virginia Tech-South Carolina pairing would match the Hokies' head coach against his son. Shane Beamer, a Tech graduate, coaches the Gamecocks' safeties and coordinates their recruiting and special teams.
How could Virginia Tech face Auburn? Well, if the Hokies win Saturday and the Tigers lose — South Carolina played Auburn tough in the regular season — the Tigers likely would fall out of the national title game and would be available as a Bowl Championship Series at-large selection for the Orange Bowl.
Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster scheming against Newton, the probable Heisman winner, would be intriguing to say the least. The Hokies lost to Alabama's Mark Ingram (2009) and Southern California's Matt Leinart ('04) in their Heisman seasons — Ingram rushed for 150 yards; Leinart passed for 272 and three touchdowns without an interception.
If Auburn and Oregon win Saturday as expected — the Ducks should punish defenseless Oregon State — and meet for the BCS title, the Orange Bowl would face a curious choice. Stanford, guaranteed an at-large BCS bid if it remains No. 4 in the standings, or the Big East champion would be available to match against the ACC winner.
The Cardinal and quarterback Andrew Luck, who sits atop many NFL draft projections, might translate to decent TV ratings. The Big East champ, likely Connecticut or West Virginia, translates to ticket sales for a game saddled recently by embarrassing attendance.
No offense to the Texas two-stepping Big East — conference HQ in Providence, R.I., is a mere 1,770 miles from new league member Texas Christian — or UConn. But the unranked Huskies have lost four games, and a Tech-UConn Orange Bowl would be anti-climactic for the No. 12 Hokies.
Unranked West Virginia wins the Big East if it defeats Rutgers on Saturday while UConn loses at South Florida — hardly a far-fetched daily double. And a Mountaineers-Hokies Orange Bowl would at least reunite once-bitter rivals who clashed annually from 1973-2005.
With tempers short, especially among fans, officials from the schools discontinued the series shortly after Tech bailed the Big East for the ACC in 2004. Here's guessing time hasn't healed those wounds.
David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at email@example.com. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime, and follow him at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP.