Byrne works with AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Published 4:00 am Saturday, January 7, 2012

While the 53rd AutoZone Liberty Bowl was being played on New Year’s Eve and the Cincinnati Bearcats defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores 31-24, many of the things saw by the fans watching on television and in the stadium came from a Brewton native.
Patrick Byrne, a 2002 of T.R. Miller High School, is the director of sales and marketing for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl Football Classic in Memphis.
Byrne, who has been with the bowl since August 2007, was taken part in his fifth bowl.
“The great thing about the position is that I get to handle a wide variety of projects throughout the year, but most of the year, my main focus is developing relationships with new sponsors,” Byrne said. “I also handle the Bowl’s social media platforms, website content and many of our publications—game program, record book, and event programs along with other things.”
Following graduation from T.R. Miller in 2002 where he was four-year letterman in football, baseball and a two-year letterman in basketball, Byrne, 28, attended the University of Memphis where he graduated in 2006 with a degree in marketing management and real estate and in 2007 with a masters in sports commerce.
While at Memphis, he played football from 2002-2006 and basketball in 2002.
While there are many things Byrne does with his job, there is one thing that he enjoys the most.
“The thing I enjoy most about my job is seeing how it positively impacts people in the Memphis community,” he said. “For almost two decades we have been partners with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Not only do we provide the hospital with financial support but we also provide a national stage to showcase all the great work that is done there. Bringing a smile to the face of a St. Jude patient is priceless.”
Another thing Byrne said he enjoys is organizing the high school all-star game that they put on each year in early December.
“Almost every year, a player or two who otherwise may not have even gone to college, will end up earning a scholarship,” Byrne said. “In fact, two years ago, Brandon Ivory only had one offer before playing in our all-star game. After a great performance in our game, he was offered by Alabama and is now a member of the Crimson Tide. It’s an incredible feeling seeing a player make it to college because of our all-star game.”
While there are good things with the job, there are also challenges for Byrne.
“The most challenging part of my job is the staying on top of all the work that has to be done between Thanksgiving and game day,” he said. “It’s really amazing to see how much can accomplished when you work every day for five weeks.”
A typical day for Byrne?
“Most days are pretty long, especially during bowl season,” he said. “I spend most of my time on the phone, replying to emails and in meetings with our staff or with potential sponsors.”
But while the days are long, Byrne said the actual week of the bowl game is rewarding.
“It’s kind of like game day when I was playing football,” he said. “All the really hard work is done and it’s time to execute the game plan. In addition to the game itself, we put on nine events in the span of five days—team welcome party, FCA prayer breakfast, pro rodeo, luncheon, parade, pep rally, gala, and a all-you-can-eat buffet. This year we added a BBQ cooking competition on game day to the mix and we were very pleased with how it turned out. There’s a lot to do during bowl week but it’s fun to see all the players, coaches and fans having a great time.”
With the many items that have to be done during the week of the bowl and leading up to the bowl, Byrne said the process to prepare for it begins as soon as possible.
“We begin the planning process for the next game as soon as we can,” he said. “But it usually takes a few weeks to get the previous game wrapped up so it’s normally around the first of February before we start looking at potential game dates and contacting sponsors.”
As for the actual game day for Byrne?
“Game day is exciting for me because I am one of a few people who get to see everything that happens,” he said. “I arrive at the stadium very early and from there I move from place to place making sure that everything is going according to plan. After 11-plus months of planning and preparing, it’s great to see the teams and fans truly enjoying their bowl experience.”
And when the preparation and game is over?
“There is so much happening in December that I don’t have any time to watch the bowl games that precede ours, so after the game is over I really enjoy watching the rest of the bowl games,” he said. “The games are usually great, especially this year, and there is a lot we can learn from the other bowls just by watching the telecasts. After the game, we get back to work very quickly. Just because the game has been played and the teams have gone home doesn’t mean it’s over, there is a lot that has to be done before the game is officially in the books.”
Byrne was able to get into his current job and field through his internships in college—something he said is very important that students should take serious and got him to where he is today.
“My internships in college really opened my eyes to all that was out there in the field of college athletics,” Byrne said. “Through my internship experiences I was fortunate enough to meet the Executive Director of the Bowl, Steve Ehrhart. He and I stayed in touch with one another for a while and eventually a positioned opened up on his staff. Whenever I talk to college students I always stress the importance of internships. A lot of students don’t take them very seriously and wait until their last semester to start looking for one. I know that if it weren’t for the internships I had, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Byrne is married to his wife Allie and is the son of Brad and Ann Byrne.

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About Adam Robinson

My name is Adam Robinson and I have been the Sports Editor of the Brewton Standard since September 2007. I cover all the local sports in the Brewton area. I am a 2007 graduate of Troy University with a degree in Print Journalism with a contract in Sports Information. I married Shari Lynn in June of 2007 and we welcomed our first child, Hatlee, in April of 2010.

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