ATHENS — Georgia became bowl-eligible for the 14th consecutive season Saturday night, and in the wee hours of Sunday morning, it looked and sounded like the Bulldogs probably are headed to the Liberty Bowl.
“We’ve got a lot of folks in Memphis that would love to see the Dogs,” Steve Ehrhart, the Liberty Bowl’s executive director, said in an interview on his way out of Sanford Stadium.
Minutes earlier, Ehrhart was seen chatting with Georgia coach Mark Richt.
“We know we can’t do anything formally [because], as Mark said, we’re sort of under an embargo,” Ehrhart said. “But I think the fact that here I am talking to him at, what time is it, 12:30 in the morning [tells you] we’re pretty darn serious.”
Georgia’s 42-34 victory over Georgia Tech on Saturday night evened the Bulldogs’ record at 6-6, the threshold required for bowl eligibility.
The Liberty Bowl, which matches an SEC team vs. the Conference USA champion, will be played at 3:30 p.m. EST on Dec. 31.
The Conference USA representative in the Liberty Bowl will be the winner of next Saturday’s league championship game between Central Florida and SMU. Central Florida is coached by former Georgia Tech coach George O’Leary and SMU by former Atlanta Falcons coach June Jones.
While SEC bowl scenarios might remain somewhat in flux until after next Saturday’s SEC Championship Game — and until it is certain whether two SEC teams will reach BCS games – it seems likely that Georgia will be available for the Liberty.
Nashville’s Music City Bowl, which picks just ahead of the Liberty, is generally expected to take Tennessee. The Vols became bowl eligible with a victory over Kentucky on Saturday.
Georgia last played in the Liberty Bowl in 1987. The Bulldogs also played in the game in 1967.
“We’ve been talking about Georgia for basically all season,” Ehrhart said. “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.”
Ehrhart said he even mentioned to Richt last spring, when the Georgia coach was in Memphis to speak to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes event, that it’d be nice to have him back in town on Dec. 31.
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