Tennessee has every expectation it will be a big draw for some bowl this postseason.
But the outside perspective on their box-office appeal might not be quite so high, and it could have cost them an anticipated trip to the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.
Since UT still doesn't officially have a bowl bid in hand, athletic director Mike Hamilton couldn't comment specifically about discussions with any committees over the past few days. But the Vols might be in need of a large traveling party this month to reassert themselves at the front of the SEC line again.
"We're going to travel well, and a couple of bowls that are in the process that there has been speculation that we might be attending, I think we'll travel very, very well," Hamilton said Tuesday. "It has a bearing on appearances in future years based on the way teams travel. We have historically traveled well, but we did not take as large crowds the last couple times we played and we've got to reestablish ourselves as one of the top travelers in the college bowl scene.
"Again, we did not travel as well to the last Outback Bowl and we've got to reestablish that we're taking big crowds everywhere we go."
According to a source familiar with the process, that means Atlanta and the Chick-fil-A Bowl this year, though the school can't confirm that.
Either way, tickets are already available regardless of the bowl for pre-purchase from UTtix.com and letters were sent to season-ticket holders over the last couple weeks to reserve their seats, and brisk sales, regardless of destination, can play a determining role.
"Going ahead and pre-purchasing is not an obligation to a bowl we're attending," Hamilton said. "It's an indication of a willingness to travel to a bowl where we might be selected."
In the end, it might even directly influence the actual selection.