The Ole Miss Rebels will face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets On Monday, December 30, in Nashville in the Music City Bowl. Read what Coach Hugh Freeze has to say about the accomplishment of qualifying for another bowl game and the matchup inside.
Hugh Freeze’s Ole Miss football team went 7-5 this season and were rewarded tonight with a trip to Nashville for a December 30th match against ACC opponent Georgia Tech, also 7-5, in the Music City Bowl.
“We are excited to be going to Nashville for the Music City Bowl,” said Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork. “Nashville is a hotbed of Ole Miss people and it’s drivable in one day for most of our fans. Within a day’s drive to Nashville, we have 126,000 alums, so this is an ideal situation for us.”
Freeze echoed those sentiments.
“We are super excited to be going to Nashville for our fans and for our kids. In year two, to experience another bowl, is invaluable for us as we continue on our journey of building something special here,” said Freeze. “We are thrilled. Our kids are really excited to get back on the field and take on a quality opponent in Georgia Tech.”
The Rebels did not end the regular season the way they had hoped, but when you look at the body of work of the regular season and moving up the bowl pecking order a couple of notches, Freeze said, the season was a success.
“The way the season ended, none of us were happy, but if you step back and look at the progress that was made, particularly with the injuries we had, winning seven games, with a couple of huge wins over Texas and LSU, the totality of the season is gratifying,” said Hugh. “We had some disappointing losses, for sure, but we are pleased with the progress made in the program overall.”
Freeze was asked about the matchup with the Yellow Jackets.
“We’re both 7-5, but schematically, we are very different,” Hugh noted. “It’s been a long time since I have had to face a Wishbone offense, but I know Dave (Wommack) and his staff will put together a solid gameplan. It’s not easy to prepare for, but we have some extra time. With the read option that we run versus the Wishbone, there are similarities in what we read that can help our defense. I think Anthony Alford is going to be a great guy to simulate that for us and give us an adequate look.
“I have not studied them on defense yet because we have been on the road recruiting, but I will get our film guys to send me some film to my computer and start watching some in the hotel while I am on the road. They have been a quality program for years and Coach Johnson has done an excellent job there. We need a quality opponent at this stage of our development to make us work hard and elevate our focus and awareness in games that make a difference.”
As is always the case in earning a bowl bid, the extra practices allowed are like a second spring training.
“These practices are invaluable. I can’t wait. We start back this Friday. We get to work our older guys to get ready for the game and then every day we’ll have 30 minutes for the younger kids that will pay dividends in their development and give them a jump on spring training,” Freeze explained. “We really need these practices.”
Bjork said Ole Miss will get 12,000 tickets, but he anticipates a lot more Rebels than that in Nashville.
Nearly 50,000 Ole Miss fans showed up in Birmingham for the Compass Bowl. Is he anticipating that kind of turnout?
“That’s a great question. Last year was a perfect storm with a game on Saturday and a drivable distance,” he said. “Nashville has done a great job and I’m not sure the ticket availability will be there like it was in the Compass Bowl. We will try to secure extra tickets.
“Here’s what I know. Our fans will gobble up the tickets because they love Nashville and they love the direction this program and this team is going. It’s a great time to be in Nashville and in the Music City Bowl.”
The bowl payout will be $1.8 million. The bowl budget is $1,075 million. The difference will go back to the SEC to be put in the bowl pool.
“It is a break-even proposition for the athletic department from a financial standpoint,” Bjork stated. “We pay bowl bonuses to coaches, travel, player gifts, etc., out of our budget.
“The ancillary benefit is that we get increased confidence in the program, hopefully more people buy season tickets and donate more and we can sell more sponsorships. Then, of course, we will get to the bowl payout that is divided equally 14 ways.”
— Chuck Rounsaville, OMSpirit.com, Publisher