Bowl announcement press conference

Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, A.D. Pat Richter, linebacker Jeff Mack and Music City Bowl excutive director Scott Ramsey addressed the media Wednesday

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Director of Athletics Pat Richter

Opening statement:

“We’re pleased to announce that we’ve been extended an invitation to the Music City Bowl by Scott Ramsey, their executive director. That game as you know is at 11 (a.m. CST) on New Year’s Eve. We’re very pleased to be able to make this arrangement this soon and get ahead of the game, so to speak. As some of you may know, there was a lot of discussion about potential matchups, in fact we are the only team in the Big Ten that is able to make the arrangement at the present time. Regardless of whether there was one team up from the Big Ten for the BCS or two teams, since we had been in El Paso (Sun Bowl), El Paso decided that they would take another team, if available, even if we were available. Music City wanted us regardless of the teams available, then we were able to make the arrangement work. The rest of the Big Ten will have to wait until after this week’s games and potentially after some of the playoff games.”

Ideally, how many people would you like to see make the trip to the game?

“Ideally, you would like to get in the neighborhood of 15,000, I suppose. It’s hard to gauge that because I think this game, more than any, probably will have a lot of land travel. I think we would have had that in Florida as well, but here you’ve got so many people coming from within a six-, eight-, 10-, 12-hour range that maybe couldn’t get to other bowl games. I think this one will be accessible to them. It’s hard to say. We didn’t have any long trips to a Las Vegas or Hawaii and so in that respect I think we’ve had that inhibit some of the travel before, and so we didn’t have that this year. The people I’ve bumped into before, Nashville is very intriguing to them, especially with all the country music popularity today.”

Senior linebacker Jeff Mack

Opening statement:

“I’m actually very excited to get to play another game with my teammates. Talking to my roommate Darius (Jones), we’re all excited to go down there and play and give UW a good showing.”

Jeff, the fact that it will probably be a quality opponent too from a good conference. Do you like that similar to last year playing Colorado?

“Definitely. I guess the speculation has been Auburn or Arkansas. They are both quality opponents. I like the way Auburn plays. I have watched them a number of times on TV and Arkansas too. If I’m not mistaken, I know they were in the top 10 sometime this year, so they’re a quality opponent. We’ll be excited. It will be a fun game.”

Jeff, as much as the seniors would like to win another game, is it the goal of you guys to get Coach Alvarez his 100th win in a bowl game?

“Definitely. That was actually one of our goals this season. Although it didn’t turn out, we still have an opportunity to do that. What better way than to get that in a bowl victory against a quality opponent.”

Head Football Coach Barry Alvarez

Opening statement:

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to play in the Music City Bowl. I’ve heard a lot of great things about the city and the bowl itself, the hospitality and how they treat the players. In talking to them it sounds as though we’ll have a quality opponent. I’ve gone on record many times as saying that bowls are a special treat for rewarding players for a good season. We’ll take the same approach for this bowl as we have any other bowl. It obviously gives us an opportunity to get some extra work with our younger players and help develop them. We try to use this time as an additional spring practice. We have a tentative schedule set already and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Was it important to get this squared away for everyone’s sake?

“It really helped a lot. A few times it has taken a long time for this to develop and so your fans are sitting out there not able to do anything. I think with the timing of this, it really allows our people to take a look at what’s available and to make some plans. In the same respect, it allows our players and ourselves to do some long-term planning and scheduling in what we want to accomplish. I thought it was really important and I really appreciated the help from the Big Ten office and some of the other bowls from releasing us so that we could make this deal.”

Did you think this was the best option as far as for the fans and for you guys to get a good following?

“I did. We’ve been to the two Texas bowls (Sun Bowl and Alamo Bowl) and we eliminated ourselves from the other ones. A new destination, a relatively close destination, a good opponent…I just felt this was the right one for us this year and the way the season played out, especially the timing of the announcement is excellent.”

Music City Bowl executive director Scott Ramsey

Can you talk about how the scenario played out?

“We’re pretty excited about that because we’ve been usually in the position where we’ve had to wait for all the games and championship games to have been played. We’re not only excited to have the University of Wisconsin, but to be able to do it before Thanksgiving and give fans plenty of time to plan their trip to Nashville, we are doubly excited. From our standpoint we were in constant communication with both Pat Richter and Coach Alvarez, as well as the (Big Ten) Conference office about our committee’s desire to have Wisconsin as our No. 1 choice if they were available to us. The last few days it was just kind of working through the process to see if they were available to us in either scenario whether they played one up or two up to the BCS. We just feel fortunate that we were able to move forward today.”

What about Wisconsin was appealing to you to make them your first choice?

“This is the sixth year of our bowl game here and really we started the game when we built the (Tennessee) Titans facility and stadium. Even though we played our first year at Vanderbilt, we started the game as really another opportunity for our city to showcase our facility. Last year we transitioned to the Big Ten primarily because we felt like the success formula for our game was to play on the strength geographically of our city and that meant can we give the fans a drive-to bowl option in the Big Ten mix. With Texas and Florida probably being primarily fly for most of the schools. Last year we had Minnesota and we didn’t get to test that formula with them being so far away, they pretty much had to fly in. I think we’re excited that Wisconsin probably has one of the best reputations in the country as far as not only the administration to work with as far as a bowl standpoint, but the support of the fans and the players and the teams. There hasn’t been anybody that I’ve talked to in the last couple of years where we’ve gone that (hasn’t) said, ‘If you ever get the chance to host Wisconsin, jump at it.’ I think that bodes well for the whole organization. I think our committee is excited about that, so we’re looking forward to it.”

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