Rick Catlett and South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner met several years ago, and they are becoming faster and faster friends this week, Catlett said.
“We have talked a number of times this week, and we’ll continue to talk,” said Catlett, the president of the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.
The TaxSlayer Bowl is a possible landing spot for the Gamecocks (8-4) this postseason, and Catlett hopes his conversations with Tanner can help pave the way to making the partnership happen. The TaxSlayer Bowl is played Dec. 30 and matches an SEC team against a team from the Big Ten or ACC. It is expected to be as far as South Carolina could fall in the conference’s bowl pecking order this season.
“We are very, very interested and have been focused on South Carolina most of the year,” Catlett told The State. “We’d like to stay in the East. South Carolina has got a really good coach and great program and the fans are as good as they get. It’s four hours away. I could keep on going. There’s a long list of why we would love to have South Carolina in our game. We’ve had South Carolina on the top of our list for weeks now.”
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The TaxSlayer Bowl’s preference for an Eastern Division team may be what’s pushing it toward South Carolina. The other choice for the game appears to be a Mississippi State that is coming off a loss to Ole Miss and will be playing without its starting quarterback due to injury and head coach after Dan Mullen left to take the Florida job.
However, the Citrus Bowl and Outback Bowl likely will be able to make their selections first from a group that is expected to include South Carolina, LSU and Mississippi State.