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Tampa, Florida --It's bands, tailgating, friends, fun and, of course, a bit of football mixed in.

The Outback Bowl, with another thrilling down to the wire finish, is one of the most successful bowl games around. This year, South Carolina defeated Michigan 33 -28 pulling ahead with just 11 seconds left in the game.

There are 35 bowl games played each year and the Outback Bowl, which started out as the Hall of Fame Bowl in 1986, started moving into national prominence when Outback became the title sponsor and the game was moved to New Year's Day.

The Outback Bowl takes in about $10 million in revenue and spotlights the Tampa Bay area via TV exposure and fans who come here.

Tom Voyt, who is a Michigan fan, says, "It's just the camaraderie and the fun. Everyone loves it."

Stuart Hooks who is a South Carolina Fan says," I think you've got two good conferences. You've got the SEC you've got the Big 10 you'll always get a good matchup."

And because SEC schools are located within an easy drive to Tampa and Big 10 Schools are located in cold northern climates, that is part of the appeal as well.

Tracy Voyt who was hoping her Wolverines would pull out a win still had a great time and loves the weather saying, "We left seven inches of snow so this is wonderful."

Besides the weather, the pageantry and the game, another big factor is the Tampa Bay area is a natural tourist attraction and there is much more to do here in addition to the game.

Jay Murphy, a South Carolina graduate, who drove her from home in Atlanta says, "It's been a fun thing and the thing we like too is go to Clearwater, to the beach and some good restaurants. It's a fun time for the family."

Kay Hooks whose husband is a South Carolina graduate and has two daughters at South Carolina is a Michigan alum.

She didn't like the final score but still says, "It's a great atmosphere, the weather is great, and Tampa has been wonderful. We've had a great time."

Jim McVay, who has been Outback Bowl CEO and president since 1988 and is the longest tenured bowl game CEO agrees saying, "Tampa Bay is an exceptional spot for a bowl game with beautiful weather and beaches. It's a hospitality market with an exceptional stadium."

And while the Outback Bowl has had great success, the college bowl picture is changing with a four-team BCS playoff in two years. But those who run the Outback Bowl say they're not concerned.

According to McVay, "It's not going to have any effect on us. We're going to be in a position to keep doing what we're doing."

And no doubt McVay would like to see the Bowl doing what it is currently doing. Not only because of the success of the bowl, but also because as CEO and president he makes almost $800,000 a year -- the highest salary of any bowl game CEO.

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