A standing-room crowd of approximately 1,000 Vanderbilt fans packed into the Student Life Center Sunday evening to attend the team's bowl selection celebration. At the event, Vanderbilt accepted its official invitation to play in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31 against Cincinnati. Accepting the invitation from Liberty Bowl official Harold Graeter was senior linebacker and Memphis native Chris Marve.
The Voice of the Commodores, Joe Fisher, was the emcee of the celebration. Also speaking were Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos, Vice Chancellor David Williams and Head Coach James Franklin.
On the excitement of the crowd: It's overwhelming to think in eleven months how far we've come. The support that we have tonight and the excitement. I'm really excited and appreciative.
On the bowl being on New Year's Eve: I think it's going to be unbelievable to be in a great city like Memphis, to be on Beale Street, go watch an unbelievable football game, go out and get the W, and then go out and enjoy Memphis and have an unbelievable New Year's Eve. To me it's a perfect scenario, and I'm asking all of our fans, all of our supporters, all of our alums, whether they're in state or out of state or even out of the country, to come support the Dores.
Impact on recruiting: That helps. We have some ties there, in state is always going to be very important to us, and we do a great job in our own state. But we're going to go nationally, wherever we have to go to get the big players, and being able to play on New Year's Eve, that type of exposure is going to be unbelievable for our program.
On Cincinnati: We haven't, I haven't studied them at all. One of my best friends is the defensive coordinator there so I have some history. But we'll be studying them and getting to know them better.
On the response of the community to the announcement: It's unbelievable. I think they could have opened up the other wall (of the room) and really still been packed. It's amazing just in 11 months, when I got here everybody wanted to talk about all the problems, all the issues, the things we couldn't do, and we've just been pounding over and over since we got on campus what we could do. This is a great example of it. I'm just so thankful and so appreciative and happy for our fans that have stuck through the rough times and so many years, that they get to feel some of these positive experiences.
On the practice routine now: We had practice today, we'll have practice Wednesday and Friday and we'll take some time off for final exams. And then we'll get going. But we already have the whole month planned out. We actually, this summer, had every bowl planned out of what we would do, how we would practice, when we would practice, how many periods, so that's already been ironed out. We'll hand it out to the players now tomorrow so they can make plans with their families as well.