In All Likelihood...

ATHENS – Georgia's bowl destination seems to be a foregone conclusion at this point.

The Bulldogs (6-6) are all set to play in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis December 31, according to Steve Erhart, the Liberty Bowl's executive director, although the berth can't become official until Sunday.

"We've been talking about Georgia for basically all season," Erhart said. "One because we've got a lot of tradition and pride with the Liberty Bowl. We're the seventh oldest bowl game and we haven't had Georgia in 23 years. That was that famous game in 1987 when John Kasey kicked a field goal to beat Arkansas, which was still in the Southwest Conference."

Exactly which team Georgia will play will be determined this Saturday. The winner of Central Florida and Southern Methodist in the Conference USA championship game will play in the Liberty Bowl, Erhart said.

Both teams offer a unique matchup, with an interesting coaching twist. George O'Leary, Central Florida's current head coach, coached at Georgia Tech for eight seasons, leaving in 2001. O'Leary won the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the year Award in 2000.

SMU's head coach, June Jones, was an offensive coordinator and later head coach of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons. Jones' time as head coach was largely unsuccessful.

So both men have coaching ties to the state of Georgia. "They're two great coaches," Erhart said.

Each team would likely be given 10,000 to 12,000 tickets to disperse for the Liberty Bowl, Erhart said.

"We're well established, and I know some bowls say, ‘Who is going to bring the most (tickets).' But we've always –we've had good luck," Erhart said. "We look more matchup."

Georgia's potential trip to Memphis is ironic, Erhart said, because head coach Mark Richt was in "The River City," this past spring on a speaking engagement. Richt and Erhart met briefly then. "Mark had given a speech in Memphis to the Fellow of Christian Athletes and his son sang there in the springtime," Erhart said. "So we talked then. I said, ‘Wouldn't it be kind of a message of mission if you were back on December 31 in Memphis?' It was kind of something we've been talking about. We've got a lot of folks in Memphis that would love to see the Dawgs. We'd like to get reconnected again. I think coach (Vince) Dooley was there in '67 coaching and again in '87. It's time for us—we know we can't do anything formally …we're pretty darn serious."

The Liberty Bowl was played from 1959 through 2007. After taking 2008 off, the game has resumed.

Georgia beat Arkansas in the 1987 Liberty Bowl and lost to North Carolina State in 1967.

The Bulldogs became bowl eligible by beating Georgia Tech 42-34 last Saturday.


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