For programs looking to move up in the college football hierarchy, few things are more important than selling out your allotment of bowl tickets.
Schools with reputations that "travel well" are often picked ahead of ones with smaller and poorer fan bases by bowl committees trying to turn a profit, regardless of the actual on-field caliber of the teams. There's no better example than the 2011 Sugar Bowl, which picked Michigan and Virginia Tech over higher-ranked Kansas State mainly because both fan bases have traveling reputations (though reputations can be misleading).
For the University of Virginia, the 2011 Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta against Auburn is the biggest national stage for the football program since a 9-win Cavalier team lost in the 2007 Gator Bowl to Texas Tech.
That's why school officials and head coach Mike London have been pounding the drums to get their fan base to Atlanta in a few weeks:
VirginiaSports Virginia CavaliersUVa's ticket total for Chick-fil-A Bowl tops 13k Saturday morning. Tickets still available. Details here: tinyurl.com/86cbxsfRetweeted by wahoovoice
Virginia, an elite academic school in the basketball-crazy ACC, doesn't have much of a football tradition.
If they can't sell out the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, they could be jumped by ACC schools that put more of a focus on football in next year's bowl selection process.