While talk centered around either Nashville or Atlanta for the Tigers, Music City Bowl Executive Director Scott Ramsey said that all along his bowl committee was shooting for a return to Nashville for the Tigers to put an end to 2003. Auburn played there earlier this season with a victory at Vanderbilt.
"On behalf of the city and our board and our volunteers and staff, we couldn't be more excited about this year," Ramsey said. "I think in the young few years of our game, this is the sixth year, this may be the most exciting matchup we've had for a number of reasons.
"One is that I think our local community has the chance to see the athletes from Auburn and Wisconsin play on the field and it's going to be a great game," Ramsey said. "Also, we think it's a great game for local interest and for ESPN and our television audience since we have a new date on New Year's Eve. We couldn't be more happy than to have Auburn and look forward to having all the fans and the team in our city for a few days."
This will be Auburn's third bowl game against a Big 10 opponent under Coach Tommy Tuberville after playing Michigan in the Capital One Bowl in 2000 and Penn State last season in a return trip to Orlando. Tuberville said that this is a game his team is looking forward to because it gives the Tigers a chance to put a positive end to a tough season.
"Our coaches and players are excited about coming to Nashville," Tuberville said. "It's a reward for a season that has been long. We have the opportunity to play in Nashville this year after playing Vanderbilt. We have a lot of local support there in that area. I'm sure we'll have a lot of people from all over the South coming and supporting the Auburn Tigers.
"It should be a fun game," Tuberville added. "Two very physical teams that like to run the football. They also have a great wide receiver. This is the third time in four years that we've played a Big 10 team and we're looking forward to the challenge. It should be a great football game and we're looking forward to spending part of the holidays in Nashville, Tenn."
Much of the talk surrounding the Auburn football program has been negative since the hours following Auburn's 28-23 victory over Alabama in the Iron Bowl as the nation watched the Auburn administration bumble and stumble before giving their support to Tuberville and his coaching staff. Tuberville said because of the publicity surrounding the situation much of his time and the time of his coaches the last few days has been spent burning up the recruiting trail to talk to as many recruits as possible.
"The big thing is explaining the situation and what we went through the last two weeks," Tuberville said. "Not just to the players and the families, but also to the high school coaches, the situation before and now after. Obviously, they want to talk about ‘are you going to be the coach next year and the year after that?' My answer is yes. I look forward to being at Auburn a long time.
"This was a very tough situation for all of us, but we've worked through it," Tuberville added. "When you work through something like this you find out a little bit more about situations than you did before-hand. We've had to do a lot of selling to recruits across the South that we've been recruiting and most of them have been very receptive."
Now the program moves towards an 11 a.m. kickoff against the 7-5 Badgers in Nashville. While the bowl game is an end to a season it can also be a new beginning and that's what Tuberville sees in the future for the Tigers starting with the Music City Bowl.
"Our guys have practiced and played hard all year long," Tuberville said, "but I think it has been a rallying cry not just for the team, but for everyone involved in the Auburn family. This is the most unified that I've seen our fans and our family. Everyone is pulling in the same direction. I think this game will be a motivational point for a lot of fans to come to this game and support this team. I know our team is looking forward to their support."