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2006 Rematch: Kentucky vs. Clemson in the Music City Bowl

It is official now, and the Kentucky Wildcats will face the Clemson Tigers in a rematch of the 2006 Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl.  John Clay summarizes thus:

The chance of finishing second in the SEC East with a trip to sunny Tampa and the Outback Bowl dissolved into the reality of a fourth-place finish and a get-well card from their old friends in Nashville.

We know you're disappointed, but we've been there for you before, and we're here again. You had a great time your last two visits. Remember? You'll have a great time again. We promise.

Indeed.  We are all bitterly disappointed by the overtime loss to Tennessee, but I remember the excitement when we first went to the MCB three years ago.  It was the rebirth of Kentucky football, and since then, the football team has ceased being the red-headed step child of Kentucky athletics and is now doing the school and its fans proud.

Add to that the benefit of Nashville being an easy place to get to for most Kentucky fans, just a few hours down I-65.  In tough economic times, there could hardly be a better destination to provide a maximum Wildcat turnout.

Unlike the last MCB trip, this one will be broadcast live on ESPN Prime Time on Sunday, December 27th at 7:30 CST (8:30 EST).  Tickets are still available to the game at all levels, apparently, plus travel packages will be offered.

As far as the bowl destination is concerned, Rich Brooks unsurprisingly waxes pragmatic:

"It definitely could have been a lot worse; just ask a few teams who are going other places that are upset that they aren't going where we are," Brooks said. "And we're upset that we aren't going where somebody else is going. So that's all part of the equation."

For my money, either Birmingham or Shreveport is a worse destination, even though they are both in a somewhat warmer clime.

More after the jump.

Kentucky's opponent in this year's Music City Bowl will once again be the Clemson Tigers, the Wildcat's first bowl victim in many years back in 2006.  Clemson finished second in the ACC and unquestionably deserved to play in the Gator Bowl.  But surprisingly, the Gator Bowl chose home-state Florida State with it's pick instead of the Tigers, who should have been first in line, apparently because of the economics of a retiring Bobby Bowden. 

Naturally, Clemson fans were rightly incensed, but in the smaller bowls, economics rule the roost, and these are, as I said, tough times.  Ivan Maisel of ESPN explains:

1. The Atlantic Coast Conference and some members are upset that the Gator Bowl bypassed four league teams with at least eight wins, including Atlantic Division winner Clemson, to take 6-6 Florida State. The Gator Bowl wants the sellout that Bobby Bowden’s final game will bring. The ACC has a rule that bowls may pick a team within one win of the best available team. The Gator shrugged. This is the last year of the ACC/Gator contract. Divorce is never pretty.

Heh.  Clemson didn't just get jobbed, this was a "Shut up, bend over and smile big for the cameras.  Our agreement means something only when it's to our advantage."  Ouch.  Unethical act by the Gator Bowl, no question.  Florida State should have declined.  In fact, the ACC should have insisted FSU decline.  It's their rule, after all, even if it meant giving the Gator a non-ACC pick.  I guess rules can be waived when they are inconvenient.

But no matter.  Clemson gets Nashville, and the Wildcats.  They had better get over their despondency quickly, becuse even though UK is also disappointed, they are a lot closer to the, "Just happy to be here" thinking than the Tigers are.

We'll have more on the Music City Bowl as we move closer to the big day.