NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Music City Bowl festivities really got under way Tuesday night with a welcome party for both teams and staffs at the Wildhorse Saloon in the heart of Nashville. The welcome event featured three contests: a chicken wing eating contest (featuring the city’s famed hot chicken), a songwriting contest and a karaoke contest among the coaching staffs.
The eating contest consisted of teams of five trying to eat as many wings as possible in four minutes. Nebraska wide receiver Ty Betka — 5-foot-7, 165 pounds — did a pair of back flips on his way to the stage and took his place alongside four Nebraska offensive linemen. From there, however, the big guys took over. Defensive lineman Garret Johns and offensive lineman Robby Painter, both seniors, were tied at the end of regulation with 12 wings apiece. In overtime, Johns finished his third wing — 15 total — first to claim the individual title. In the team competition, the Huskers beat the Vols 47-40.
According to research by our own Erin Sorensen, the winner of the chicken wing eating contest — Notre Dame in 2014, Louisville in 2015 — has gone on to win the Music City Bowl the past two years.
The songwriting contest gave a group of players an hour with a Nashville songwriter to write an original song that was then judged by the crowd. Nebraska’s group, “The Husker Five,” included Jordan Ober, DaiShon Neal, Pernell Jefferson, JD Spielman and Graham Nabity paired with Gary Burr of the Blue Sky Riders. Tennessee’s squad got a songwriting assist from Georgia Middleman, also of the Blue Sky Riders.
The Vols took that contest thanks in part to a decent home-field edge, but Neal delivered perhaps the best couplet of the night, singing “We’ve got a team that can’t be stopped/gonna kick their ass back to Rocky Top.”
The coaches’ karaoke contest was almost too close to be called, but the Vols’ staff, singing Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise”, edged out the Huskers’ staff, singing Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary”, on the decibel meter but clearly lost in a landslide when it came to song choice.
You can check out our photos from the event below.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.