Bowl Officials today invited the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns to represent the Sun Belt Conference in the 2011 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on December 17 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Ragin’ Cajuns appearance in this year’s R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl marks their first Bowl Appearance in 41 years, where they fell short of beating Tennessee State 26-25 in the 1970 Grantland Rice Bowl in Baton Rouge.

The invitation, officially made by Bowl Officials at a pep rally on ULL’s campus Monday afternoon, was accepted by Head Coach Mark Hudspeth and Director of Athletics Scott Farmer. “This is a tremendous day for the Ragin' Cajuns and our football program. I think it's one of the biggest days in the history of our athletic department. It's a great testament to our fans that have been with us for the past 41 years. It's been so long, and there are a lot of people who have put a lot of sweat and a lot of tears into making this day happen,” noted Farmer.

Bowl Chairman Ron Gardner expressed his enthusiasm for the Ragin’ Cajuns to make their way down to the Big Easy, “We are all very excited and looking forward to welcoming the team, administration and fans of the great University of Louisiana at Lafayette. We love showcasing our wonderful city, and can’t think of a better team to have representing the Sun Belt Conference this year.”
ULL is currently 8-3 on the year, and in third place in the Sun Belt Conference. Second year Head Coach Mark Hudspeth realized the importance of his teams focus for the rest of the season, but took a break to celebrate his first Bowl selection as Head Coach with his team, “This is a great day for Ragin’ Cajun football. I am very proud for these players, students and fans to be going to a bowl game for the first time in 41 years.”

With today’s invitation and acceptance, Bowl officials will now turn their attention to the Cajun’s Conference USA opponent. With four currently Bowl eligible teams in the Conference, and three more vying for eligibility in the last week of the season, that picture should become clearer in the next week. Previous C-USA representatives include Southern Miss, Memphis and Rice and the two conferences record in the Bowl is tied at 4-4. In 2010, Ohio represented the MAC Conference in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, after the Bowl released UTEP to compete in the regional Gildan New Mexico Bowl.

The 2011 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl will be played on December 17 at 8:00pm (cst) in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and will be broadcast on ESPN and ESPN Radio.

[Via:  Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation]