So it comes down to this. After carefully studying the tiebreaker procedures, asking the league office if I am right about all the different tiebreakers, and finally trying to discover what happens in every possible situation.
Based on those e-mails and discussions, here is how the Battle for the Fourth Bye plays out.
--If Samford beats Appalachian State on Thursday night, Samford gets the bye, regardless of what happens in any other game.
--If Samford loses to Appalachian State, beats Western Carolina, and Appalachian State loses to Chattanooga, Samford gets the bye.
--If Appalachian State wins both games, Appalachian State gets the bye.
--If Samford loses both games, and Appalachian State beats Chattanooga, Appalachian State gets the bye.
--If Western Carolina wins both games, and Chattanooga beats Appalachian State, and Appalachian State beats Samford, Western Carolina gets the bye.
--If Samford loses both games, and Chattanooga wins both games, Chattanooga gets the bye.
In other words, two teams control their own destiny in the bye race- Appalachian State and Samford. The Thursday game between those two could easily determine who gets the final bye this year in the SoCon.
With Chattanooga and Samford going to Western Carolina and Appalachian State this weekend, it is going to be a very interesting weekend. The chances of the Mocs getting the bye is an incredibly longshot. Who is the favorite to get the bye?
Here is what I think.
Appalachian State lost at home to The Citadel last week. I don't think they are consistent enough to win both games. They can win one game (not sure against who), but will have a difficult time winning the second one. That means that Samford has to be the favorite. Western Carolina I think has a real shot as well. The Mocs chances are remote, but if they play like they played against Elon, they will have a shot at winning both games (remote though it is), and then what matters is if Samford wins a game or not.
If I were a betting man, I'd bet on Samford. But with how wild this bye race has been, I wouldn't want to bet against any team.