Sept. 27, 2005
The AutoZone Liberty Bowl is reaching back into its rich
history for a new conference partner, while maintaining a current
conference relationship. Beginning in 2006, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl
will match-up teams from Conference USA and the Southeastern Conference.
“This is definitely a red letter day for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl,”
said AutoZone Liberty Bowl Executive Director Steve Ehrhart. “We have a
rich history with the SEC that dates back to the inaugural Liberty Bowl
“We have hosted the top team from C-USA since the conference’s inception
and we look forward to continuing to build our partnership with C-USA,”
“With this new SEC-Conference USA match-up, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl
will continue to provide the very best college football has to offer,”
said Mike Longo, Executive Vice President of AutoZone. AutoZone is the
Bowl’s title sponsor and the nation’s leading auto parts retailer.
Longo added, “Congratulations to Steve Ehrhart and the AutoZone Liberty
Bowl staff for crafting this exciting match-up which will certainly
bring tremendous fan interest to our hometown bowl.”
Over the 47 year history of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, 23 SEC teams have
played in the Bowl, more than any other conference. Notable games
include the first Liberty Bowl game in 1959, as Bear Bryant and his
Alabama team played Penn State. The 1971 game between Tennessee and
Arkansas is still debated by long-time fans, with Tennessee winning
14-13. However, the most historic game came in 1982 when the legendary
Bear Bryant led the Crimson Tide to a 21-15 win over Illinois in his
final game as head coach.
“The SEC has a long history with the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and we are
looking forward to renewing our partnership and having our teams in this
tradition-rich bowl,” said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.
Ehrhart added, “The AutoZone Liberty Bowl is very appreciative of
Commissioner Mike Slive and all the SEC member institutions for their
commitment to our Bowl.”
Over the past decade, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl has pioneered the growth
and development of C-USA. The AutoZone Liberty Bowl has hosted C-USA’s
top team since the league commenced football competition in 1996. C-USA
teams are 9-5 in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. In the memorable 1998 game,
Tulane defeated BYU 41-27 and finished the season undefeated with a
perfect 12-0 record and #7 national ranking.
“We have appreciated our association with the AutoZone Liberty Bowl over
the last decade and are pleased that it will continue,” said C-USA
Commissioner Britton Banowsky. “Memphis is a great city and AutoZone is
a wonderful sponsor. The Bowl and the Conference have a great future
“We want to thank Commissioner Britton Banowsky and all the C-USA teams
for their many years of support and their ongoing partnership with our
Bowl,” said Ehrhart.
All the parties — the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, C-USA and the SEC — have
mutually agreed that there will be no rematches of regular season games
or intrastate match-ups over the course of the four-year agreement.
The 2005 AutoZone Liberty Bowl will be played Saturday, December 31 at
Noon (Central Time) and will feature the first selection from C-USA
against an at-large opponent. The game will be televised by ESPN.
For tickets to the 2005 AutoZone Liberty Bowl, call (901) 795-9095 or
visit online at www.ticketmaster.com.