As ugly as it was, may the Music City Bowl have been a blessing in disguise? Think about where UT may have been had it won the Music City Bowl. Tyler Bray would be 5-0 as a starter, and the throat slashing gestures, and brashness may have gotten worse.
Janzen Jackson may have stayed in school all spring, and not gotten his personal issues addressed. It’s fun to be with your teammates after a win. Tauren Poole may not have the 2,000 yard goal. (Kinda insane, but it does gives im a clear goal, nothing wrong with being focused.) Losing should have made the competitive fires burn all spring.
There may have been an sense of accomplishment going into fall camp as a whole that may have been completely undeserved. Not insignificantly fan expectations would be through the roof. Does beating Memphis, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and North Carolina make a preseason top-25 team? Of course not. But that’s where we would be as a fan base, and the Chicken Littles would hit the panic button as soon as the Bray’s first interception was tossed.
Reasonable expectations are a good thing. Is Tyler Bray going to be a good quarterback? I think so. Is he going to be Peyton Manning? Doubtful. If Bray beats UNC the Manning comparisons would be out in force. They would start throwing out numbers, 5-0, more freshmen passing yards than Manning etc. I hate to break it to you but Peyton was once in a lifetime. It’s ok for him to Tyler Bray.
It’s possible that recruiting may have been helped with a bowl win. But Marlin Lane, Curt Maggit, and Tiny Richardson came anyway. Derek Dooley sells a process, and that is bigger than one game.
It was vitally important for this young team to get those extra practices leading up to the Music City Bowl. In fact looking back any bowl would’ve been important. The results of that bowl game may have been for the best.