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Bill’s Bowl Blog: Liberty New Year’s

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Bill’s Bowl Blog: Liberty New Year’s

9:05 p.m. — So, not to be real boring, but this will be our Happy New Year signoff for today and 2009. See you tomorrow in 2010. Along with the final head coach press conference, we will have a special road edition of Ask the AD — get your questions in tonight or tomorrow morning — from right here in Memphis.

9:00 p.m. — Finish this blog post and handing off digital files to Matt Wolfe to finish out video packages for you. I hope everyone across the great Razorback nation has appreciated Matt’s work, and tolerated my stand-ups. We can’t forget back in Fayetteville and North Little Rock with Blair Cartwright keeping our basketball moving with press conference video and streams — plus the latest edition of Courtside with Tom Collen — this week, along with Scott Fendley who helps maintain our streams and on-line computers. Our intern, Bryan Rowland, lives right here in Memphis, and he’s been a big help. Andrew Reynolds provided your weekly computer wallpaers as well as other design items like the cover of many Razorback media guides — notably that 2010 Liberty Bowl football guide that is on-line on the Bowl Central page. Students Steven McGowan assists with our XOS archiving and Brittany Koger will be on our stream tomorrow. One thing I’m thankful for this past year — and I know all our on-line fans are as well — is this great team of folks who keep New Media running. I’d just be just one guy who can type real fast (as one amazed student worker said during one of our live game blogs) without this dedicated team. And, I’d like to include a sincere appreciation of and thank your for Megan and Suzanne, Matt and Blair’s wives, respectively. I hope our distant fans appreciate them and what they often give up in time so the Razorback Nation stays informed and entertained.

8:05 p.m. — Back to the Peabody — making sure to show our wrist bands that prove we’re hotel guests — as we get into the hotel. The New Year’s Eve revelry is getting cranked up in downtown Memphis, and it is pretty obvious why Coach Petrino made it clear to the media that he intended to get the team "locked down" and focuses. By the way, let me repeat for anyone who might try to turn this into an on-line rumor, the Peabody puts on this security each year as the hotel sells out for its parties and want to make sure only the registered guests are in the hotel at the parties.

7:40 p.m. — Offensive line coach Mike Summers follows McGee, then the show closes out with defensive coordinator Willy Robinson. The crowd stays, and so does Bobby Petrino, signing autographs and taking photos with the appreciative Memphis area crowd until the end of the show at 8 p.m.

7:24 p.m. — Offensive coordinator Garrick McGee joins BPL. Talks about how he knew from the start at Arkansas that if Paul left, he would be the next OC. "I believed him" he said of Petrino, who made that assurance to get him to leave as the OC of Northwestern to be the QB coach at first for the Razorbacks. McGee appreciates that very detail is about football around Petrino. Very pleased yesterday when he saw Ryan Mallett and Tyler Wilson still in the meeting room late on their own, watching tape and working on breakdowns. That shows that the same attention to detail is moving on from the staff to the players. He talked about the importance of the type of recruits the offense needs "key is to have home run hitters" confident players who want to make big time plays, "we are running an NFL system and we are training players for the NFL."

7:23 p.m. — So, if I had tickets to tomorrow’s sold out event, what do you suppose I have to give away tomorrow. Perhaps tickets to another sold out event? Hmm. Better keep an eye on @ArkRazorbacks on New Year’s Day.

7:22 p.m. — After our second Tweet about Hog Wild on Beale tickets, a young woman comes up behind me and says, "excuse me, do you know where Bill Smith is?" I said, are you looking for tickets? Yes, she said with some excitement. Turns out that Jenny Monsey and her finacee, Chad Allison, were driving around in Memphis and saw the first Tweet. They wanted tickets for the Beale Street event tomorrow night, but knew it was sold out. When she saw the second Tweet, she said we have to head for Primetime. They are from Texarkana, and Chad says that he’s got @ArkRazorback set to text his phone to keep up with the Hogs.

7:20 p.m. — Petrino finishes his segment and gives the stage to John L. Smith. Smith is very excited, and gets the crowd fired up about special teams. As he ends his part, he takes a moment to answer Chuck Barrett about Bobby Petrino that he is particularly proud as a coach to see what Petrino has done both with his career and at Arkansas. Closes with a ringing endorsement for the bowl system "we need more bowl games" — pointing out it is important to give as many teams as possible the chance to close their years winning something, the first goal is a championship, and if not, then a bowl game.

7:15 p.m. — In the second segment of his show, Petrino addresses the suspensions saying "It’s one of the hardest things you have to do as a coach." He adds, "It’s very tough. I feel bad for the players parents and i feel bad for the players teammates."

7:10 p.m. — Among the Petrino highlight quotes from the Twitter feed — Creating turnovers a key for our defense, prevent the ECU QB from "making plays with his legs"; good way to do that "hit the QB"; "we’re looking forward to getting physical with them"

7:00 p.m. — BPL opens with Coach Petrino as usual, but tonight, the special guests will be members of the coaching staff rather than players. Petrino talks about how important the week had been in building the foundation for what is expected at Arkansas from a bowl. He’s pleased with the leadership within the team, which he says is more important than the coaches — they can say it, but the teammates sell it. Thinks the younger players that got extra reps thanks to bowl practice are a key to the new foundation for next year.

6:50 p.m. — Pick up two tickets to tomorrow night’s Hog Wild on Beale event — which is now a sellout. These will be the TwitTix for tonight. Send out the first notice.

6:45 p.m. — Arriving at Primetime, it’s already a great crowd. The East Arkansas-Memphis Razorback Club and the Arkansas Alumni Association sponsoring tonight’s event at Primetime, which opened with the Little Rock based radio talk show, Drive Time Sports, hosting from 4-7.

5:00 p.m. — Back downtown for the pep rally on Beale Street. This is the first appearance for the Razorback marching band, cheerleaders and spirit squad members. They face off with their ECU counterparts at Handy Park on Beale, right next to where the big Fender guitar will drop for the New Year’s celebration here on Beale Street. Chuck Barrett gets the Hog fans fired up on his way over to Bobby Petrino Live at 7 p.m.

2:00 p.m. — With practice at Memphis University School open to the public but no photo or video planned and no post-practice media availablity, take a little time off to visit the local National Weather Service office. Tom Salem, one of the NWS metoerologists, gives me a tour and a great discussion about the radars in use for the Memphis area. Of course, we talk a little about the forecast for Saturday. It looks dry, and somewhat sunny, but it will be cold. Let me repeat — bring a heavy coat, we’re talking 30s and a nice 10-mph north wind. Ah yes, feels like home in Fayetteville for the Razorbacks.

1:45 p.m. — As the event draws to a close, internet and media reports of player suspensions. We provide the following quick message via Twitter to confirm the suspension of Matt Harris, Wendel Davis and Marques Wade for violation of team rules. This corrects early media reports of the actual players.

1:10 p.m. — Special award to the Tuey family from the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and a clip of The Blindside is played before introducing Leann Tuey to a standing ovation. She gives an inspirational message about valuing people — please take time to watch it in either our end of the day wrap up or our raw footage of the luncheon.

12:55 p.m. — The SEC rep for the event, Debbie Corum, says she’s a coach’s daughter and that she knows how important running is at practice, so she will cut her remarks short. She quickly gets back into Arkansas’ good graces by calling for the room to stand up and Call the Hogs. Half of the room is happy.

12;40 p.m. — Holland tells the ECU football team to stand up and sing the fight song as Holtz takes the stage. "Well, we might not run today," Holtz then opens, and a big roar from team. Quickly Holtz interjects: "don’t hold me to that". ECU’s player to speak gets to the podium and shakes his head. "It’s always hard to get up after Coach Holtz . . . he can talk"

12:30 p.m. — The East Carolina president jokes best news he’s received was listing of 15 head coach openings in the newspaper today and Skip Holtz was not linked to any of them. Right at the end of his talk, sound system goes down and he quips that must be his cue to wrap up. ECU’s AD Terry Holland comes up as they work on the sound and gets the top laugh of the day — "if I say go Hogs, can I get some sound?" Whole room belly laugh.

12:25 p.m. — Bobby Petrino says that "team chemistry" is the key to team reaching bowl, and introduces DJ as a vital part of that team attitude. DJ begins to thank everyone, and various part of the Razorback team. He starts a running joke for the whole rest of the day at the start of his comments by apologizing for being long winded "because if I go long maybe we won’t have to run at practice"

12:00 p.m. — The annual awards luncheon includes videos from both teams, then each chancellor, athletic director, head coach and one player to speak. The Liberty Bowl also hands out a special award, and this year it will be Leann Tuey — "Miss Tuey" from The Blindside.

11:30 a.m. — As ECU opted to conduct their coordinator press conferences earlier, only Arkansas went today at the Embassy Suites. With the time crunch to reach the annual awards banquet, we only got footage with two players, but we will post that along with offensive coordinator Garrick McGee later today.

9:00 a.m. — Matt Wolfe joined about more than a dozen Razorbacks, including Ryan Mallett, D.J. Williams, Reggie Fish, Lucas Miller, and head coach Bobby Petrino and his wife for a visit to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

8:55 a.m. — Off to the athletic department daily bowl meeting, then on to the coordinator’s press conference and awards luncheon. Until we can get new video posted from those events today, enjoy yesterday’s wrap-up and the duck march.

PRE-BLOG: After today’s second coordinator press conference, the media access to the Razorbacks will close, but we will have plenty of coverage of the events surrounding the Liberty Bowl. A couple of reminders if you attending. The Liberty Bowl issued updated parking and shuttle information late yesterday that you may have missed. Be sure to check Bowl Central for that or directly to this article.

Also, all the schedules for fan events are also listed off the Bowl Central page.

Second, today is the bowl edition of Bobby Petrino Live, and it will take place at Primetime in Peabody Place next to the team hotel. BPL is 7 to 8 p.m. as usual, and you can email in your questions as usual — or be in attendance. The area Razorback Club and Alumni Association chapter are having an all-evening event at Primetime that’s open to the public.

If you’re here and thinking you’ll drop in to the team hotel on New Year’s Eve, sorry, you can’t get in. No, it’s not because Coach Petrino has "locked down" — to use the quote that got a lot of traction with the media — the famous hotel. This is standard Peabody security for the event, and if you are not a hotel guest, or listed on the room of a hotel guest, there is no admission into the hotel after 5 p.m.



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