VAUGHT: Brooks wants players to have fun

Rich Brooks is an old-school coach who probably could do without things like rib-eating contests as he is trying to get a team ready to play in a bowl game. However, the Kentucky coach is also realistic and knows having fun is part of a team's reward for being at a bowl game.

That's why Brooks has no problems with the scheduled team festivities in Nashville this week for the Wildcats as they prepare to play Clemson in Friday's Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl.

"One thing you sell your team on is that the bowl game is reward for the season it had," said Brooks. "If it is all just business as usual and no fun for the players, it's going to be hard to sell that bowl concept to the team again.

"I'm all for it. The players have earned the opportunity to have fun. All I ask them to do is be focused on the field and in meetings." Other than Tuesday when the Cats returned from a short Christmas break, Brooks says his players have done that.

"This group has persevered through some tough times. They made decisions at the time that probably were not popular to even come to Kentucky. They have basically changed the direction of the program," Brooks said. "It makes me proud to know they have hung in here and done all the things it took to have a winning program. It would be wrong of me now not to want them to have some fun as well as prepare for the game."

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