Hogs Headed to Liberty Bowl

Arkansas fans didn't wait for official word to begin to buy Liberty Bowl tickets. Jeff Long indicated that over 15,000 have been purchased through the UA office.

Steve Erhart made it "officially official" at 4:05 p.m. Sunday. During a telephone media conference, the Executive Director of the Auto Zone Liberty Bowl invited Jeff Long and Bobby Petrino to bring the Arkansas Razorbacks to Memphis to play East Carolina.

The Liberty Bowl will be played at 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 2 in Memphis, Tenn. This will be Arkansas' fourth trip to the Liberty Bowl.

Acutally, this has been a done deal for several days. Arkansas wanted to have a media announcement earlier in the week with an on-campus gathering, but the Southeastern Conference asked the Hogs to delay it until Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Arkansas fans have been snapping up Liberty Bowl tickets at a high rate. Jeff Long said season ticket holders had claimed over 15,000 Liberty Bowl tickets by the close of business Friday. Erhart didn't say how many UA fans had bypassed the school and bought directly from Memphis, but he said it was brisk.

Petrino, the Arkansas head coach, his experience with the Liberty Bowl from 2004 when he coached Louisville to a 44-40 victory over Boise State.

"We are very excited to be going to the Auto Zone Liberty Bowl," Petrino said. "There is not any bowl that treats the players and fans with such passion. I think it will be a great experience for our coaches, players and also for our fans.

"We are also excited to begin our preparations. We have a tremendous amount of respect for our opponent, East Carolina."

East Carolina, coached by Skip Holtz, held off Houston to win the Conference USA bid to the Liberty Bowl on Saturday.

"There is a lot of intrigue with this game," Erhart said. "There is a history with Skip Holtz and Arkansas -- starting with a man (Lou Holtz) who once coached there. We expect (Lou Holt) to be here for this game."

Long said it was exciting for Arkansas fans to play at the Liberty Bowl because "it's in driving distance. It's exciting because sometimes when we fly to Florida or other places, some of our fans are not able to get to those bowl destinations. They can with the Liberty Bowl."

Ticket prices are $50 for every seat in Liberty Bowl Stadium.

"We've kept the prices low," Erhart said. "When some bowls are charging $75 to $125, we've tried to make ours affordable. Every seat is $50. Our hotels are affordable and we have a wide range."

The Arkansas team hotel will be the Peabody in downtown Memphis.

Erhart said this promises to be another hard-fought, close Liberty Bowl. The last few Liberty Bowls have come down to the final possession.

"If you ask people around the country to name a few teams that are exciting to watch, Arkansas always will come up," Erhart said. "Everyone knows that Bobby Petrino teams are going to compete to the final gun. That's a mark of his teams.

"East Carolina has a fine team, too. They've played a great nonconference schedule and they are certainly a seasoned, veteran group."

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