Kentucky’s bowl destination won’t be officially announced until Sunday, but the Music City Bowl has emerged as the likely landing spot.
Music City Bowl president Scott Ramsey told SEC Country on Monday that Kentucky is “very high” on his list. Ramsey couldn’t go as far to say that Kentucky is the choice, but there would have to be significant shakeup to keep the Cats from playing in Nashville, Tenn.
Ramsey mentioned Northwestern, Iowa and Purdue as the Big Ten teams most likely to play in the Music City Bowl.
Kentucky played in the Music City Bowl three times from 2006-09. Those trips included a win against Clemson, a win against Florida State and then a loss to Clemson.
Here’s the full conversation Ramsey had with SEC Country.
Q: It’s been speculated that Kentucky is likely to play in the Music City Bowl. How much have the Wildcats been on you radar?
Ramsey: “Well, I mean it’s been talked about quite a bit. I think the last two to three weeks, at least from our standpoint, you start trying to kinda narrow down the few teams on both the SEC and the opposition side that can kind of play into your game. I think we’re always excited about having Kentucky. Some years on the bowl it fits perfectly and some years they fit better in some other cities based on matchups.
The last time we had them in the bowl was 2009. It’s been eight years and certainly we’ve had a great affinity with Kentucky fans for at least the 23 years I’ve been here, and the 20 years of our bowl game and certainly the SEC basketball tournament that we host in Nashville as well. Anytime we have the opportunity to host Kentucky, we’ve always had a positive experience. As we go through the evaluation process this year, we’ve got to wait for the final process to play out, but certainly Kentucky’s very high on our list.”
Q: How much does the close proximity and the fact that Kentucky hasn’t recently played in this game make it a good fit?
Ramsey: “Each year you’re kind of looking at different parameters, but this year certainly we started thinking about a late Friday afternoon kick leading into a long weekend where I think we’ve done and continue to do a better job since 2009 kinda partnering with all of our assets in Nashville to build out a three or four-day platform. The proximity and availability for Kentucky fans to come and hopefully spend two or three days with us, we’ve had a great track record of that, and we would be excited about it.
I think you’re always looking to try to, as much as you can, get as many of the three objectives we’ve had since Day 1. One, you wanna fill the stadium as best you can to create a great environment for the players. Two, we want economic impact in our city. It’s one of the reasons we raise the money and pay the rights fee with the SEC and the Big Ten and ACC to create the game. We want vibrancy and people excited about coming to our city and spending as long of a time as they can. And then third you want a matchup that hopefully is interesting to the national viewership, your ESPN broadcast, which obviously creates ratings for our title sponsor and for our city. You try to hit all those three. Some years you try to hit as many as you can.
That’s always kind of the litmus test as you’re looking at it. And then you start going through the process … You start piecing that puzzle together along with the other bowls and the conferences. As we sit here today, like I said, Kentucky’s very high on our list given who possibly could fill the pool this year, and then looking at the opposition we don’t really see any matchups that would create heartache on the other side if it was Kentucky.”
Q: Which Big Ten teams are in play for you?
Ramsey: “I would say right now the most logical would be one of the combinations of Northwestern, Iowa or Purdue. Obviously you’ve gotta wait and see there. You’ve gotta wait and see what happens if Wisconsin wins the game, does Ohio State stay in the New Year’s Six, do they not fall in the New Year’s Six? Who fills the Orange Bowl spot which dominoes down to who the Citrus Bowl selects? Do they select Big Ten or do they select ACC? That could push a team down or take a team off before we pick.
So, there’s a lot of moving parts in the Big Ten. But I would say those are the three that we’re running some scenarios with against the SEC options as well.
Q: Are there other SEC teams in the mix besides Kentucky? If everything holds, would Kentucky be the choice?
Ramsey: “Oh, I don’t know if I can go that far and say that as we sit here today. You felt like that a few years over the 20 years we’ve been here and then something really — two, or three or four bizarre things happen in a championship game and you’ve gotta shuffle around at the last minute. So, you know, we think the pool is probably gonna consist of five teams: Kentucky, South Carolina, Texas A&M, maybe Missouri and maybe Mississippi State. Likely not LSU. We’ve had LSU and A&M in the last three years, so you start looking at who could go where and who fits well where.
You gotta be a little flexible. If certain things happens in other cities, then the SEC might need to shift some teams around. Some bowls may want to shift some things around, an AD may want to shift based on a matchup that changed at the last minute. So, there’s no definitive at this point. You play some probabilities and we certainly have a lot of interest in Kentucky right now.”
Past Music City Bowl matchups
2016: Tennessee 38, Nebraska 24
2015: Louisville 27, Texas A&M 21
2014: Notre Dame 31, LSU 28
2013: Ole Miss 25, Georgia Tech 17
2012: Vanderbilt 38, NC State 24
2011: Mississippi State 23, Wake Forest 17
2010: North Carolina 30, Tennessee 27 (2OT)
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