FAYETTEVILLE – Florida is nice this time of year. Nashville is nice all the time. Charlotte, too. Birmingham and Memphis, less so. Shreveport, not so much. Houston? Bright lights, big city.

FAYETTEVILLE – Florida is nice this time of year. Nashville is nice all the time. Charlotte, too. Birmingham and Memphis, less so. Shreveport, not so much. Houston? Bright lights, big city.


Possibilities for Arkansas’ bowl destination are varied. Ask five different people and you might get five different answers on the most likely destination. The cities above, and their respective bowls, are all in play. The question simply is what regard does the Southeastern Conference hold the Razorbacks?


It used to be the bowls would make their selection directly. Conferences had very little to do with which of their teams went where. Certain conferences had certain bowl tie-ins, but it was ultimately up to the destination to make the determination. Quality was at the head of the criteria list. Or near the top, anyway.


Now, ticket sales and promotions rule. ‘How many fans can Arkansas bring? How much money will they spend? How popular is Arkansas among the locals? Will they come watch?’ These are the questions bowls and conferences began to ask as the shift from quality became more and more obvious.


It isn’t as though bowls are bad now. It’s just the money factor plays much higher than it used to. Accordingly, it possibly limits Arkansas’ chances for some of the so-called upper-tier bowls.


Truth is, there is no hierarchy anymore when it comes to slotting. Divisional play has all but shot that. The SEC is tied to 10 bowls. They are, in traditional order of sexiness: Sugar Bowl, Citrus Bowl, Outback Bowl, TaxSlayer Bowl, Music City Bowl, Belk Bowl, Liberty Bowl, Texas Bowl, Independence Bowl, Birmingham Bowl.


Now, try to find a pecking order in the SEC and slot the teams.


Figure, for example, Alabama. The Crimson Tide are going to be in the College Football Playoff, probably (unless Florida wins the SEC Championship on Saturday). That relieves Alabama from slotting. The next-best SEC team would, accordingly slide into the Sugar Bowl.


Florida would lay claim in a literal sense. The Gators, like Alabama, lost just one SEC game. They’re ranked higher than any other SEC team, too. Yet almost no one projects Florida to the Sugar Bowl. General thinking is Ole Miss.


OK. Ole Miss had the third-best record (6-2) in the league. So that isn’t a stretch. Florida is projected for the Citrus. That means the three best teams in the league, on-paper, are in the three best bowls, even if a couple are transposed.


But which teams are head to the Outback (Tampa) and TaxSlayer (Jacksonville) bowls? Four teams in the SEC finished with 5-3 in-conference records – Arkansas, LSU, Georgia and Tennessee. Arkansas beat Tennessee and LSU, but didn’t play Georgia. So, Arkansas, right? Well, Georgia has nine overall wins, LSU and Tennessee eight, while Arkansas has seven.


How about going with the hottest team? That doesn’t help. Arkansas won five of its six last games. So did Tennessee. Georgia is without a coach, so that’s something of a public relations black mark. LSU went through a whole mess of phooey with its coaching situation. The Tigers aren’t glimmering. Plus, throw in Mississippi State and Texas A&M, another two teams with eight wins who both beat Arkansas, yet both finished below in the SEC standings.


The whole thing is an absolute mess. There is no science. No art. It’s darts-in-the-dark.


It’s also been that way for a long time. Gone are the days the of meaningfulness in the bowl system. Coaches now only talk about getting the extra few weeks of practice. It’s always "what’s next" as opposed to "what’s now." Sure, nobody wants to lose a bowl game. But a loss isn’t shaking a program to its foundations, either.


Now that the decision rests largely with Southeastern Conference, it will be up to Greg Sankey and the brass in Birmingham to place its teams where makes the most sense for maximizing eyeballs and dollars. That isn’t a good thing, nor a bad one. It just is.


And with Arkansas still fighting for prestige with programs like LSU, Georgia and Tennessee, the Razorbacks may find themselves closer to the "eighth-best" SEC bowl than the "fourth-best" despite probably being the actual fourth best team in the league.