Bowls don't impact ensuing season

College coaches will tell you that playing in a bowl game is an advantage for the next season because it's almost like having a mini-spring practice. It helps you develop more chemistry on your team. It gives you a chance to nurture young players.

And it can provide momentum for the next campaign.

But I'm here to tell you all that is overrated.

Does it help some?

Sure.

But does it really have an impact on the next season?

Not really.

Take Tennessee, for example.

Last year, the Vols didn't play in a bowl, thus missed out on those valuable 14 or 15 days of December practice. Surely, that would affect the Vols in 2006, right?

It didn't. Tennessee went 9-3, losing to three top 10 teams. They beat two top 10 teams -- Georgia and California – and beat Alabama and South Carolina, two teams that beat the Vols in 2005.

Not playing in a 2005 bowl didn't hurt the 2006 team.

Let's go back to 1998. The Vols didn't go to a bowl that season, either.

How did it affect the 1989 team? Maybe in a positive way. The Vols were 11-1 in 1989, won a share of the SEC Championship, beat Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl and finished No. 5 in the nation.

Just think how good the 1989 team would have been with two weeks of December practice.

I hold the same theory for bowl outcomes.

Coaches – and media – like to say a bowl win carries momentum into the next season. Are you sure about that?

Tennessee lost the 1998 Orange Bowl to Nebraska, yet won the national championship the next season.

Tennessee beat Florida State to win the 1998 national title, but went 9-3 the next season with a more talented team.

Tennessee routed Michigan in the 2002 Florida Citrus Bowl, but followed that season up with an 8-5 record.

Tennessee got whipped by Clemson in the 2004 Peach Bowl, but bounced back to win the SEC East Division title.

Tennessee routed Texas A&M in the 2005 Cotton Bowl. With 17 starters returning, the Vols were a preseason No. 3 pick. They went 5-6.

Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis admits the bowl outcome has little impact on the ensuing season.

``It's hard to say which is best,'' Chavis said of winning or losing a bowl game. ``I look back and probably one of our best seasons was after we got a pretty good whipping by Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. But I don't want one of those. I'd like to have a good season without having one of those.''

My point is this: Each season is a new season. You can't base it what you did or didn't do in a bowl game. There is no correlation.

Injuries, chemistry, luck, the schedule all play into a season.

Whether Tennessee wins or losses to Penn State in the Outback Bowl will have no bearing on 2007.

Neither will two extra weeks of practice in December.

CHAVIS: WHY SHOW UP?

Chavis was asked if he felt UT would seek revenge because the Vols have lost both bowl games to Penn State.

``If you base it on history,'' Chavis said, ``we wouldn't go because you'd be saying we don't have a chance.

``We're going to get ready to try to win a football game. It's as big a game for us as it is for them. We're excited about the opportunity to play an opponent like Penn State. It's going to be fun.''

10 WINS IS MOTIVATION

Winning 10 games is definite motivation for the Vols. It would be the ninth 10-win season in Fulmer's 14-year career.

``It's huge, especially after last year when we won five,'' senior guard David Ligon said. ``Ten wins has kind of been the pinnacle of college football. It's very special. This would be the senior class' third 10-win season if we get it, so that's pretty special.''

It would also be special for Chavis.

``You always want to win one more and you want to finish on a good note,'' Chavis said. ``That's' part of getting you ready for the offseason.''

Said tight end Brad Cottam: ``Trying to get to double digit wins is something you look forward to. That's a huge accomplishment in the SEC.''

RICO THE REAL McCOY

Chavis was impressed with the way Rico McCoy filled in for the injured Jerod Mayo in the last two games of the season. McCoy had eight tackles against Vanderbilt, nine against Kentucky. He also deflected a key fourth quarter third-down pass in the end zone against Kentucky that helped preserve a 17-12 win.

``Rico did really well,'' Chavis said. ``We've said all along Rico will be an outstanding player. Obviously, what he needs is experience. There are some little subtle things that help you become a better football that will allow you to become really a great football player. If he continues to improve on that, he has an opportunity to become a great football player at Tennessee.

``He certainly has the talent, the demeanor, the work ethic. We just have to continue to improve on those little areas.''


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