TV Time Out

Strike up the band, Cats headed to Music City

By: Steve Moss
By: Steve Moss

For the third time in the past four seasons, the football Wildcats will be heading south to Nashville for the bowl season. With all due respect to the Music City and bowl organizers, it's not the destination that UK fans, players and coaches had hoped for. Many were thinking warmer climates, like Tampa, or even indoors, like Atlanta.

For the third time in the past four seasons, the football Wildcats will be heading south to Nashville for the bowl season.

With all due respect to the Music City and bowl organizers, it's not the destination that UK fans, players and coaches had hoped for.  Many were thinking warmer climates, like Tampa, or even playing inside, like Atlanta's Georgia Dome.

But Auburn snagged the Outback Bowl and Tennessee is headed to Catlanta for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, which leaves the Cats on the outside, looking in. 

Opryland Hotel, here we come.

With six SEC schools sporting 7-5 records, this bowl season is as messy as a Christmas fruit cake.  The only thing for certain is that the winner of the Florida-Alabama game in the SEC Championship is headed to the BCS National Championship game, while the other plays in the Sugar Bowl.

The official announcement that the Cats are bowling in Tennessee for the fourth straight year should come on Sunday.  Scott Ramsey, President and CEO of the Music City Bowl, told 27 SportsFirst that UK's recent success, coupled with its unwavering fan support, makes the Cats an attractive invitee.

"Kentucky had a really solid year, some great road wins at Auburn and Georgia, and given the history that they're fans support their team, we just felt like it was the right decision for us."

Ramsey said the Music City Bowl is obligated to take the loser of the ACC Championship game, which would either be Georgia Tech or Clemson, unless, he says, another bowl grabs that team.  Then, Ramsey said, the Cats likely would face either North Carolina or Miami.

Whomever the Cats play on Dec. 27, it will be the only game on television.  ESPN has exercised its option and the game will be a prime time affair, kicking off at 8:30 p.m.  Ramsey says it'll be great exposure for his bowl and the teams involved.

"We really thought for our bowl game to be successful, and to give the maximum amount of fans to chance come to the game, we were hoping for a more local or regional team if at all possible, to select," Ramsey said.  Kentucky fits the bill.

Did having a freshman starting quarterback make the Cats any less attractive?

"No.  I think they're an exciting team to watch, with (Randall) Cobb and (Derrick) Locke, and some of the things they've been able to accomplish this year," Ramsey said.

In 2006, Kentucky defeated Clemson in Nashville, came back the next year to knock off Florida State at LP Field, then took down East Carolina last year in Memphis.

It might also give coach Rich Brooks an exit strategy to announce his retirement.  Brooks told ESPN.com on Tuesday that he would sit down with Mitch Barnhart after the bowl game to talk about the future.  "No guarantees," Brooks said.

For Kentucky fans, the return trip to Nashville allows for a short drive during the holiday season. 

Personally, I can't wait to make dinner reservations at "Stockyards." 

Those are the highlights... Stay tuned.

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