While everyone would have preferred taking their talents to South Beach on NYE, a trip to Memphis represents a quality alternative. This was a nice bowl for UC to slide into. They would have ended up in the Belk Bowl, but those folks really wanted NC State for local draw and weren't about to set up a rematch of the 44-14 drubbing the Cats put on them earlier this year.
So, Liberty it is a chance for a bit of redemption against an SEC opponent.
A few notes about the bowl for those thinking about making the trip:
1. Get your hotels now. It may seem like a good idea to get your group together first, but that will leave you out in the cold. People are saying hotels in the downtown/Beale St. area are already selling out. You need to book that...like, yesterday. The Liberty Bowl site does a great job of lining up hotels for you.
2. UC will be sitting on the West side of the stadium for when you buy your ticket. Purchase your tickets through UC. They need to sell out their allotment or they will be on the hook for the extras. Don't buy through an outside dealer. Here's all your information on that at catstix.com. Or you can call 1-877-CATS-TIX or 513.558.2287 for the customer service center.
3. Get the pre-game tailgate deal. Seriously. It's $35 all you can eat/drink. Not sure what else you could ask for.
4. Check in to UC's Bowl Central page for all the information you could possibly want.
Memphis as a whole is a fun town. Beale Street is one of the most alive downtown districts in the country. I used to work down near Memphis and went in there quite a bit. BB King has a great place if it's quality blues you are after. Isaac Hayes actually has a fantastic blues bar and restaurant called Music Food Passion.
I wouldn't call Beale St. the cleanest downtown in the world, but the establishments are first class and a great time.
--- Butch Jones wants to see a ton of UC fans in Memphis. Really, he wants to see a ton more fans in general. He wasn't afraid to address the topic after the victory against UConn where just shy of 28k showed up. Bill Koch posted a blog on the topic, as well.
"We got to get that. There is no excuse. Part of elevating the football program is selling games out at Nippert. I'm excited about Whit Babcock because he has such great vision for what we want to do in Nippert. We want to make this the hottest ticket in the city. I think sometimes when you have something right here you don't appreciate it as much. I think people need to realize and I said it, they need to embrace this football program and this football team because we embody what the city of Cincinnati is all about. Blue-collar, hard-working, suffer through adversity, family-oriented. We are a football program that the entire city of Cincinnati should say this is our team. I mean that sincerely."
People can use their money as they choose. Everyone has that right. Only know that the attendance of these games has a significant effect on the program. When kids are being recruited they want to know they can make it to the next level and play in front of packed houses. Bottom line. Bowls that are choosing whether or not to offer a bid to teams, look at the support of their fan base.
I'm not saying that means anybody should go out and buy season tickets for next year, only pointing out that whether or not you attend the game does matter.
--- Maybe the coolest moment for me on Saturday was talking with JK Schaffer after the win. He told a story about what made this day special and when it hit him he just played his last game at Nippert and relayed this one about his grandfather. It's really why you play sports in the first place.
Scroll forward to the 1-minute mark.
--- The other topic of discussion was asking these guys if there was any bittersweet feeling to the celebration knowing they wouldn't be representing the Big East in the BCS bowl game. The answer varied depending on who you asked. Obviously, the older guys who have been to the BCS already didn't feel that way whereas a younger player like Anthony McClung wouldn't deny he wanted his trip to the Orange Bowl.
Here were a few reactions:
"Not really, after last year, that sucked," he said. "That was terrible. I remember sitting with Zach and one of his buddies sitting there watching bowl games. I thought, I'll be damned if we don't go to a bowl game next year. I don't' care what bowl game it is. I just don't want to be sitting home in January.
"We were just miserable. We were so mad. Zach, he hates to lose and feel embarrassed. We made a pact and started as soon as that Pitt game ended, we started training harder and harder, our offseason was incredible."
around our locker room, our team meeting room, you look in our manuals; It says
win a championship. We've accomplished something not many people get to
accomplish: three Big East championships the last four years. Yeah, playing in
a BCS game would be great, it would be awesome, but at the same time I am
happy. We won a championship, that was our goal. You can't be mad about it."
you can't control that. Of course, everybody watched the South Florida game. I personally was mad, but you
know, it didn't work out. We still won the Big East, that is really the main
--- Andrea Adelson on UC accepting the bid to the Liberty Bowl.
--- Koch with a post about Vanderbilt and the Liberty Bowl.
--- Jeff Lockridge of The Tennessean on Vandy's reaction to a bowl bid. Playing the SEC, the Commies don't make many bowl games, so this is a huge deal for their program. Have to imagine they'll bring a ton of fans from Nashville to Memphis for the game.
--- The complete bowl game schedule.
--- How about Munchie Legaux and Anthony McClung hooking up eight times for 142 yards and two TDs? Thought it was interesting to find out after the game that the two are roommates. I was asking him how much they talk about taking this program to the next level and Legaux snapped off: "Every day."
As I wrote Saturday, on senior day where all five TDs were scored by players back next year, there's plenty to be excited about going forward.
--- I stood on my soapbox on this topic last week, but here is a breakdown from Greg Auman of the St. Pete Times on bias and self-promotion in the coaches poll. These polls contributed to WVU being selected over UC and U of L. Not right.
The idea for the three-way tiebreak Dan Hoard brought up when we discussed the topic was taking head-to-head going down the standings. In this case, it would have compiled the three team's records against Rutgers and Pitt. WVU would be 2-0, UC 1-1 and UL 1-1.
Yes, I realize this would have been the same result, but would've been more fair than interjecting national bias into deciding the conference.
--- Derek Wolfe was named the National Performer of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards.
The guy concluded an incredible season with an incredible game. He had 10 tackles, 5 TFL and 2.5 sacks against UConn.....from the defensive tackle position. Those numbers are silly.
He finishes the season tied for 6th nationally in TFL and ranks tied for third among linemen.
Wolfe moved into fourth place in the school's all-time list for career sacks with 19.5. He passed Trent Cole, who you may have heard of.
Most of the predictions I've seen have Wolfe going in the late rounds of the draft. If that is the case, somebody will have a steal because the guy just concluded one of the most productive seasons in the country.
--- Keeping the blog football-focused today, since we'll have all week to discuss the Crosstown Shootout, which is Saturday at 12:30 p.m., in case you forgot.
Much-needed win for the Cats on the road Friday at UGA. They still need to find ways to avoid nine-minute scoring droughts like what happened in the first half and seems to be happening nearly every game. That said, we may look back at that second half against the Dogs as a turning point for this offense.
When the trio of Dion Dixon, Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright are powering the offense as a perimeter-oriented attack, UC has been at its best. Look back to the conclusion of last year as well. Yes, Yancy Gates turned his offense up, but it was mainly by scrapping for points off rebounds and hustle in the paint. Those three as the driving force makes the offense hum. That was the case again in the second half Friday.
As the kids like to say: I see you Dion Dixon.
--- Also, need to shoot a congratulations on a great season to UC volleyball who fell in a heartbreaker to FSU on Saturday, just a few points shy of the program's first trip to the Sweet 16. It came down the final set and the Noles pulled it out 15-13. Great year as Reed Sunahara continues to take this program to unprecedented levels of consistency.
--- I loved Friday Night Lights as much as anybody, but I don't get permanently inking catch phrases onto your fingers.
--- Madonna, seriously? I guess Cher wasn't available.
--- CBS continues to stockpile talent. They are doing it right.
--- Butch Jones has competition for the "Best Dancing by a Head Coach" award.
--- Considering UC's destination, this only seems appropriate.