from Jim Modlin GREENSBOROSports.com and East Carolina grad:

ECU, Wildcats To Meet In AutoZone Liberty Bowl’s Golden Anniversary Game January 2

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – East Carolina will play Kentucky in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl’s Golden Anniversary Game on Friday, January 2, 2009 at 5 p.m. (ET). The game will be televised by ESPN.

East Carolina (9-4) will be making its third appearance in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. The Pirates earned their spot in the game after defeating Tulsa 27-24 Saturday and winning the Conference USA championship. East Carolina played in the 1994 (vs. Illinois) and 1995 AutoZone Liberty Bowl games, defeating Stanford 19-13 in the 1995 contest.

“We are excited about the opportunity to represent Conference USA in the 50th Anniversary of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl,” East Carolina Head Coach Skip Holtz said. “It’s going to be a phenomenal trip. This is what we’ve talked about beginning with the first day of practice – the road to Memphis and what we’ve got to do to get there. I can’t tell you how excited we are as a program and as a university to be there. It’s a fitting reward for the team and the fans, because they put it out there on the line too.”

“East Carolina has great fans and they’re pumped up for the return trip to Memphis and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl after thirteen years,” said AutoZone Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart. “Nearly four thousand Pirate fans waited an hour last night to welcome the team back home, that’s a sure sign they are dedicated and ready to celebrate a championship season in Memphis.”

Kentucky (6-6) will be making its first appearance in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Memphis area resident and starting defensive end Jeremy Jarmon leads the Wildcats’ defensive unit. The bowl trip to Memphis marks a return trip to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl for Kentucky head coach Rich Brooks, who played in the game for Oregon State in 1962.

“It’s great that we’re playing in the 50th anniversary of a game that I actually played in when the game originated in Philadelphia,” said Brooks. “I think it’s an honor to play a conference champion, particularly one that was as hot to start the season as East Carolina was, and the way they finished the year will be a great test for our program.”

“We’re excited to have Kentucky in our game for the first time in the Bowl’s 50-year history,” Ehrhart said. “To have Jeremy Jarmon lead the Wildcats back to his hometown and to have a legendary coach of Rich Brooks’ stature return to the Bowl after more than 40 years is unique and special as we celebrate the Bowl’s 50th anniversary.”

The Pirates and Wildcats have faced off once previously as Kentucky posted a 6-3 victory on Nov. 13, 1993 in Lexington. On the other hand, East Carolina will try to make it two in a row against Southeastern Conference members after handing South Carolina a 21-3 setback in 1999.

ECU will have ticket, travel, and other ancillary information available on Monday, December 8th. All seating will be assigned using the Pirate Club priority point system. When ordering online Pirate Club members must login first and then place the order. Tickets will be available through the Athletic Ticket Office and by phone at 1-800-DIAL-ECU. Office hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Orders may also be placed online through the Online Ticket Center.