STARKVILLE — Cowbells will ring for the first time in the history of the Music City Bowl.
Before the Mississippi State football team’s first visit to the game in school history, Music City Bowl officials announced Sunday evening that MSU fans will be allowed to bring cowbells into LP Field for the game.
“We’re going to allow them after (MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin) and I talked about it,” Music City President Scott Ramsey said. “I think it’s prudent to talk about when you’re playing a neutral-site game. From my standpoint, you want to be equal from the SEC and ACC side of things, regardless of the issue.”
Ramsey said Sunday the Music City Bowl feels the uniqueness of the cowbell and its meaning to MSU and its fans will help create a great environment for the game against Wake Forest (6-6), which will be played at 5:40 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30 (ESPN), at LP Field, the home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, in Nashville, Tenn.
“It’s something we’re certainly excited to have and be a memorable piece to our city that Mississippi State will leave behind,” Ramsey
When asked about the cowbell, Ramsey mentioned the popularity two years ago of Clemson University’s two-dollar bill tradition. It has been a tradition of that school dating from Sept. 24, 1977, for the school’s fans to spend two-dollar bills on away-game trips. This began when the school played Georgia Tech “for the last time” when Georgia Tech refused to travel to Clemson, S.C. To show the Atlanta business community how much money the local economy would lose from Clemson fans who wouldn’t be coming to town anymore, Tiger fans spent vast quantities of two-dollar bills, many of them stamped with their famous “Tiger Paws.”
“The downtown vendors and restaurants thought (the two-dollar bill) was pretty neat,” Ramsey said. “We’re expecting it to add a great piece of character to the bowl this year.”
Once the invitation was extended, MSU officials and the Music City bowl committee negotiated a policy that will follow the artificial noisemaker rule the Southeastern Conference adopted last year and renewed for the 2011 season. Under that policy, fans will allowed to ring the cowbell during pregame, halftime, between quarters, timeouts, after scoring plays, and during possession changes.
Stricklin used his Twitter account, @stricklinmsu, to remind fans what is the proper procedure with the symbol.
“We want to be respectful of the ACC opponent, and we want our fans to cooperate with that and ring only at certain times,” Stricklin said.
MSU fans have been allowed to bring a cowbell into a bowl game stadium in each of their 15 postseason appearances.
Stricklin, a 1992 graduate of MSU, said Monday he hadn’t heard official word from SEC officials about MSU fans’ compliance with the rule this season. Last season, the school was fined $30,000 for violations in the first two home games.
“We want our cowbells to be celebrated, but we don’t want them to be seen as offensive or overbearing,” Stricklin said. “Following the SEC guidelines at the Music City Bowl’s request is very fair, and I know they’ll comply just like they have the past two years.”
The cowbell is considered by many the most sacred tradition at MSU. Two years ago, MSU proposed the SEC remove its rule, established in 1974, that prohibits the use of artificial noisemakers at sporting events.
Sunday’s bowl announcement marks the first time since 2000 that MSU (6-6) has qualified for back-to-back bowl games. That year marked the completion of three straight bowl bids by then-head coach Jackie Sherrill from 1998-2000.
“We’re excited (about) going to Nashville to play in the Music City Bowl,” MSU coach Dan Mullen said Sunday. “We had an idea there was a chance that’s where we’d go.”
The game will be the first matchup between the schools, and the first time both programs will play in the Music City Bowl.
MSU has won its past four bowl games, and is 1-1 in the Volunteer state in the postseason. It defeated the University of Central Florida 10-3 in the 2007 Liberty Bowl and lost to Air Force 38-15 in the 1991 Liberty Bowl.