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March 26, 2008

Richt headed to the Middle East

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) football head coaches, Mark Richt, University of Georgia; Randy Shannon, University of Miami; Jack Siedlecki, Yale University; Tommy Tuberville, Auburn University; and Charlie Weis from the University of Notre Dame will visit military bases throughout the Middle East May 20-26.

"College football is an All-American sport-it truly showcases the drive, determination and teamwork that is similar to the U.S. Armed Forces," said Air Force Colonel Edward Shock, Chief of Armed Forces Entertainment. "We are proud to bring this tour to our military men and women, and my hat goes off to these coaches for spending their downtime with our troops."

The tour is a first-of-its-kind for NCAA football and for Armed Forces Entertainment. The NCAA coaches will participate in meet and greets at various bases, as well as coach flag football teams made up of servicemen and women. Additionally, the head coaches will host a symposium, allowing audience members to ask questions.

"We love the Soldiers and their willingness to sacrifice for our country. We want to support them not only in prayer but also in person. I look forward to meeting as many of our men and women in the armed forces as possible during the visit," said University of Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt.

Richt, who has family ties to the U.S. Air Force, Army and Marine Corps, is one of only six coaches in history to win two Southeastern Conference (SEC) championships in his first five years and one of only five head coaches in SEC history to record four straight 10-win seasons.

In 2007, under Head Coach Jack Siedlecki, the Yale Bulldogs came within a game of their first perfect season since 1960. "I expect that this will be a once in a lifetime experience. I am really looking forward to meeting the men and women of our armed forces and am truly thrilled to have this opportunity," said Siedlecki.

"I am excited about joining my colleagues on the trip to the Persian Gulf. This is an exceptional opportunity for me to interact with our military personnel overseas as well as a chance to experience the cultures of the host countries," said University of Miami Head Coach Randy Shannon. Shannon is known for producing defenses ranking among the best in college football history. He led the Miami Hurricanes as defensive coordinator for six seasons, coaching top 10 defenses in five of those six seasons. He was named Miami's head coach in 2006. During his career, he has coached in eleven bowl games and under his guidance he continues to produce players that go on to star in the NFL.

Head Coach Tommy Tuberville has led Auburn to be one of the most successful programs in the SEC, directing his team to a perfect 13-0 season in 2004 and to eight consecutive bowl appearances within his nine-year tenure. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity to spend time with the troops in the Middle East. They have made so many sacrifices to help protect our country and this is a small way that I, along with the other coaches on the tour, can say 'thank you.' I know we'll get to visit with a lot of college football fans and hope to see several Auburn Tigers along the way," said Tuberville.

Notre Dame Head Coach Charlie Weis is in his third year with the "Fighting Irish." During a 15-year National Football League (NFL) career as an assistant coach, Weis earned four Super Bowl championship rings. Since returning to his alma mater as head coach of the football program, he led the team to 19 wins between the seasons, qualifying as the most wins for Notre Dame in a two-year period since the 1992-93. "I am honored to be selected to a group of collegiate football coaches to visit our troops in the Middle East the week leading up to Memorial Day," said Weis. "My family and I believe this to be a small way to thank and support our troops for defending our country. As a proud Notre Dame alumnus, I consider this trip to be a privilege and I'm looking forward to this with great anticipation."

Morale Entertainment is organizing the tour in association with Armed Forces Entertainment.

A television concept for the tour is being developed by Morale Entertainment in conjunction with Big Dog Productions. Broadcast details will be released at a later time.

Armed Forces Entertainment is the lead Department of Defense agency for providing entertainment to U.S. military personnel serving overseas, with priority given to those in contingency operations and at remote and isolated locations. The Department of the Air Force is the executive agent of Armed Forces Entertainment. Founded in 1951, Armed Forces Entertainment brings a touch of home to more than 500,000 troops annually, embracing the best of Americana that stretches across all genres of entertainment. Visit www.armedforcesentertainment.com for more information.

To learn more about NCAA head coaches participating in this tour, please visit www.coachestour2008.com.

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