Cotton Bowl

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 12, 2008

Ole Miss head football coach Houston Nutt (left) greeted Cotton Bowl president Rick Baker in a Tuesday afternoon press conference in the Indoor Practice facility. Ole Miss was invited to play Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl on January 2 in Dallas. Over 80,000 tickets have already been sold for the last Cotton Bowl to be played in Texas Stadium. The Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

Ole Miss and Bowl officials address media

By Angie Ledbetter

Ole Miss’s head football coach Houston Nutt, athletic director Pete Boone, and AT&T Cotton Bowl president Rick Baker, met with the media on Tuesday afternoon at the indoor practice facility to discuss the Rebels playing in the 73rd AT&T Cotton Bowl game in Dallas Texas on January 2, 2009.

“It’s a happy day for us,” said Nutt. “Once we got the word Sunday, we came into this room to tell our players and I wish you could have seen their faces. They were very, very excited.”

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Nutt expounded on the first class operation of the Cotton Bowl every year.

“What I’m really excited about is to be a part of history,” he said. “Our team is going to be the last team to play in the Cotton Bowl in that arena so I’m excited about that.

Nutt joked he wished that Baker could have gotten them a “lesser opponent.”

“We’ve been in the film room today a little bit and I can tell you what a job Texas Tech has done,” Nutt said. “Quarterback Graham Harrell is so cool and confident and the receivers he has and their defense are underrated. They are so good. I can see why they lost just one ball game. “

Nutt did not want to talk anymore about that subject and said the team is just excited about going to Dallas.

The team was in finals this week but they practiced yesterday, today and will practice some tomorrow. They will have a final week of preparation before the team is dismissed for Christmas and will meet in Dallas on December 26.

“What’s so ironic when I first walked in this room the first time after Pete handed me this job, I asked, has anyone been to a bowl game and not one person could raise their hand, so to have the experience of going to their very first bowl game in their life to one of the top bowls in the country, I mean what a blessing,” Nutt said. “It goes without saying that they were very, very excited. Jevan Snead especially being from Texas, he’s really pumped up. Everybody was so excited and what I love most is they don’t know what is coming next. They don’t know the day-to-day experience, so it’s like little kids around a Christmas tree and you can’t wait to tell them what is happening next.”

Nutt does not expect to have much work to do exciting the team for the Cotton Bowl.

“Our seniors deserve the credit for motivating,” Nutt said. “They’re the ones that have taken complete ownership of our team; ironically it started when we went to Arkansas. We gained a lot of confidence when we beat Florida in The Swamp, but we couldn’t handle success very well the following week. We really got on a roll when we went to Arkansas, in a very hostile environment and won that ball game. We got on a roll so the last five weeks and November have been fun, but it starts with our seniors they’ve taken ownership of our team.”

Jason Cook , Michael Oher, Jamarca Sanford, Michaeal Wallace as being the seniors who have really stepped up.

The next four weeks will have positive and negative connotations, according to Nutt.

“The positive is you’re going to a bowl game and one of the best games in America. Ole Miss is going to be mentioned now till the next thirty days. It’s just awesome and I’m excited about that.

“The negative, you want to keep it bottled up,” Nutt continued. “What we’ve had the last four or five weeks you want to keep this energy, this defense is playing at a very high level, offense is executing. So, you always worry as a coach, are we doing enough are we practicing at a high enough level? Are we going over everything we need? That’s the biggest thing when you have that lay over of time. Every coach asks that question and you have to go with your experience and belief that we’re going to get it done and give them enough time for school, enough time to get away from it. I believe the worst thing that you can do is try to go practice for 30 straight days or four weeks. I just think it gets really old and takes the excitement away from the bowl game if you do that.”

Pete Boone talked about the progress Nutt has made. “It’s amazing how things change over time. A year ago we weren’t having a meeting to talk about a bowl trip. But even in a short period of time, just three or four weeks ago we were talking with the Liberty Bowl and were very happy to be on their list of teams to consider. Our fans started coming back this year and we’re to almost 16,000 tickets sold for the bowl game and just getting started. We’re excited about that.”

Baker said having Ole Miss in the Bowl game has him with a smile that will be hard to get off his face.

“I can’t tell you how excited the ATT&T Cotton Bowl is to host the Ole Miss Rebels,” Baker said. “I want to congratulate Houston Nutt. What a great and special year the Rebels have had. We certainly followed their progress and having those five straight wins put them on everyone’s radar. We were fortunate enough to have them available when it was our turn to pick. We are excited about having them in our game and our match-up. Ole Miss and Texas Tech I would put up against any match-up in the country.”

According to Baker, Attendance record for the Cotton Bowl after 72 years, the biggest attendance happened January 1, 1976 with Arkansas and Georgia with 77,500 seats.

“When I left Dallas this morning (Tuesday), with the tickets that Ole Miss and Texas Tech committed to we are already over 80,000 tickets sold. Obviously the interest we have in this game is incredible.”

“I want to be sure to thank all of those great Ole Miss fans who supported our game five years ago,” Baker continued. “They came in great numbers and all the Red and Blue was terrific in Dallas. They are doing the same thing this year.”

Baker said Texas Tech is buying up a tremendous amount of tickets.

“A lot of people in Dallas want to be there for this historic occasion – the last Cotton Bowl game in the stadium,” Baker said. “There is tremendous interest in this game from start to finish. And I want to say how proud we are to have a school and team like Ole Miss in this game with their tradition and history. To have a team like that close the final chapter of Cotton Bowl Stadium is really special. We’re really honored to have them with us.”

Kickoff for the Cotton Bowl game will be at 2:30 p.m.