COLUMBIA — Nashville is one of America’s hottest tourism spots, but this weekend’s Missouri travel contingent has no interest in music, bars or ribs.
“They’re going to be in hotel rooms,” head coach Gary Pinkel said.
The football players might be cooped up in the hotel this weekend, but fans will get to explore Nashville. Here's a look at the country music capital and how Vanderbilt fits into the city in our story from the SEC Road Trip special section available to Missourian Digital Members.
There is little difference between a team trip to Bloomington, Ind., and a trip to Nashville. The players will get to peek out of bus windows to and from the stadiums, but the itinerary leaves no room for sightseeing.
“We’re on lockdown,” punter Christian Brinser said. “It’s a business trip. It’s definitely a business trip. Everything we do is scheduled.”
Brinser said he doesn’t even spend time in the hotel lobby on a road trip. He stays off his feet and in bed watching other football games during the day. To sneak out or disobey the strict 10:30 p.m. sleep curfew would mean being held out of the next day’s game or being sent back to Columbia early.
But Brinser doesn’t feel like he’s missing out, especially when he finally steps onto the field.
“Most people don’t get to experience what we experience,” Brinser said.
Mental focus is expected as part of Pinkel’s “48-hour preparation” maxim. Never mind there are more than 600,000 people bustling through streets that hold nearly as many distractions. Never mind that Vanderbilt University’s beautiful campus is waiting to be explored.
“Everybody asks you, ‘How’s their campus?’” offensive lineman Evan Boehm said. “I say, ‘Well, the only part of campus we saw was the little bit going into the stadium.’ The little bits and pieces we get to see are very cool, … but there’s one thing we have to do, and that’s go play football.”
No temptation to get out, even for a moment?
“We’re smart enough to stay in the hotel,” Boehm said. “It’s not for fun. We’re not going there for fun. Yeah, the game of football itself is fun, but going there is a business trip. And it’s not going to be a sightseeing business trip.”
Pinkel says that over the course of his career, he’s been better able to appreciate the new cities he visits, but his routine is always the same. He’s so focused on football that he doesn’t have a bite to eat on Saturdays until the game is over.
“I think for our players, the routine and consistency of preparation is important,” Pinkel said. “Every player has to determine how he’s going to prepare himself.”
Defensive lineman Markus Golden put his travel plans in the simplest possible form:
“We just go there to play football and get out,”
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