Perhaps they discuss matchups like Tennessee vs. Texas or Tennessee vs. Notre Dame and talk about how those would be the perfect ending to the season and a great way to send out the senior class, all of whom have never actually played in a bowl game.
But at least when asked in interview settings, the message has been the same from everybody involved with Tennessee football: We don’t care where we go, we’re just glad to be going somewhere.
“I am just excited to be playing in postseason and I think our fans feel the same way,” Jones said after Tennessee’s first bowl practice since 2010 on Saturday afternoon. “Dave [Hart] has been great. We have been in constant contact and dialogue regarding that and that process. You put your one, two and three list together but at the end of the day it comes down to the SEC and where they place us. Again, we are just very fortunate and blessed and honored to be representing the University of Tennessee.”
“Like everyone said, we don’t know which bowl game we’re in or who we’re playing and that is not a big concern of ours,” added freshman tight end Ethan Wolf. “All that matters is we are one step closer to being where Rocky Top belongs, and that is at the top. We are doing all we can right now to get ourselves there.”
So there won’t be a ton of fanfare surrounding the bowl announcement on Sunday. Speculation continues to grow that the Vols could be on their way to either the Liberty Bowl in Memphis or the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, but nothing will be official until the announcements are made later Sunday afternoon.
Tennessee will get a practice in, do some lifting and then head to Smokey’s, the team cafeteria in the indoor facility, to find out where they’re heading. Memphis, Charlotte, Nashville, Birmingham or some other surprise location – it really doesn’t matter to this squad that clawed its way to 6-6 on the season and will now get to return to the postseason for the first time since 2010.
What does matter is that this team is still playing football in December and has a chance to grow, improve and even have a little fun in the process.
“[Coach Jones] told us this will be something you never forget,” said junior safety Brian Randolph. “It is a great time to be with your teammates and we don’t have class. All you have to do is worry about football. It gives us a lot to look forward to and a lot of team bonding.”
And that can be done at any of the bowls.