Randy Smith: Vols Heading Back To Music City

Monday, December 6, 2021 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
The Tennessee Volunteers will be seeking their fifth straight bowl game win on December 30th as they take on Big Ten power Purdue in the Music City Bowl in Nashville. The Music City Bowl is nothing new to the Big Orange as the Vols will be making their third appearance in Nashville in their last six bowl contests. The Vols under Derek Dooley lost to North Carolina in 2010, 30-27, and in 2016 under Butch Jones, Tennessee hammered Nebraska 38-24 to finish 9-4. That had to be Jones' best squad during his tenure at Tennessee.

While most Tennessee fans were hoping for a Florida bowl trip, the travel is much easier in Coach Josh Heupel's initial post season appearance.
Nashville wants Tennessee because of the huge crowd that will settle in town for two to three days or longer and spend a lot of money. After all, isn't that what bowl games are all about? Making money and playing hopefully good competitive games is the standard now. Oh, it's also a reward for the student athletes who have sweated and worked hard all year long, gone through a 12-game regular season schedule and now they get to spend a few days in the capital city and play one more football game.  

I have personally attended each of the last two Tennessee bowl games in Nashville, but I will likely sit this one out. I don't get around well anymore, especially in big crowds with a lot of walking. However, several members of my family will be there to cheer on the Volunteers. It was just a couple of years ago when Tennessee last played in a post season bowl game. It was on Jan. 2, 2020, when the Vols edged Indiana 23-22 in the Gator Bowl. Tennessee had missed going to a bowl game three straight years before that one under Jeremy Pruitt and, of course, they stayed at home last year as well, following the announcement of an NCAA investigation. 

Though Tennessee's bowl history has been sporadic at best over the last decade and a half, the Volunteers still have a great all-time bowl resume. Tennessee is third all time in bowl appearances with 49 and the Vols' record is 25-24. Despite all the program has been through since 2017, when Jeremy Pruitt was hired, Tennessee fans are absolutely giddy about playing in the Music City Bowl, as they should be. But I hope complacency doesn't set in and everybody's happy with it in the near future.
 
Josh Heupel has made a real statement in his first year as the Volunteers' head coach. He placed an exclamation point on that statement when he told the media that he has no interest in returning to Oklahoma where he played and also was an assistant coach at one time. (Vol fans breathed a sigh of relief after being scorched by Lane Kiffin.) Heupel intends to bring Tennessee football back into the college football spotlight and he's almost there.   

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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com



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