Forgive the Kentucky football team for feeling a little Scrooge-like these days.
UK knocked off Clemson in the 2006 Music City Bowl, a game that took place on Dec. 29, and the 2007 Music City Bowl victory over Florida State was on New Year's Eve. Both dates allowed the players to spend Christmas at home before reconvening in Nashville.
But with the 2009 Music City Bowl a few days earlier than usual, the Wildcats arrived on Tuesday night and scheduled practices for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday leading up to Sunday's game against Clemson. That means most of the players won't see their families until the weekend.
The players got to spend a night on the town Tuesday, but that doesn't ease the sting of being away from home for the holidays.
"It's tough," sophomore receiver Randall Cobb said. "I haven't missed a Christmas with my family ever. It's different. But there's nothing I can do about it. I just have to go out there and get myself ready for this game."
Junior tailback Derrick Locke said it will be the first Christmas he won't spend with his 3-year-old son, Kelton.
"I'm not going to lie," Locke said. "It sucks. But it'll be OK. He knows Daddy's working.
"To be honest, I don't think anybody here likes it. But that's just one of the things in life you have to deal with sometimes. To get something, you have to give up something. And that's one of the things we had to give up, being with our families in order to try and get this win. If we get a win, it'll be worth it. If we don't get a win, I don't know (laughing)."
UK's holiday blues apparently carried over to the practice field. Coach Rich Brooks wasn't all that thrilled with the team's first workout in Nashville.
"It was sluggish," Brooks said. "I had to yell a little bit too much. But at least we finished pretty good."
Cobb said he expects the team to snap out of it once Christmas passes.
"As soon as Christmas is over and we see all the fans come into town and get to the pre-game, our focus and enthusiasm will be up, and we'll be ready to go," he said.
When asked whether he planned to get gifts for his teammates, Locke said, "Nah. I'll try and give them as many rushing yards and play as solid and as smart as I can. How 'bout that?"
King misses practice
Freshman receiver LaRod King missed Wednesday's practice with the flu, and he is expected to be out on Thursday. King emerged as one of UK's top threats in the passing game in the final part of the regular season.
UK Alumni tailgate
The official UK Alumni Association Tailgate Party in Nashville will be Sunday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. (CST). A tent will be set up in the LP Field parking lot (south end zone). Admission is $15 for students, $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers. To register for the event, visit www.ukalumni.net/bowlgame.
The "Cat Walk," UK's entrance to the stadium, will start about 5:15 p.m. (CST) Sunday. Team buses will stop at the corner of Victory Avenue and South 2nd St., and the team will stroll down the middle of South 2nd St., which will be closed to traffic. The team will enter the stadium at the east service entrance.