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December 27, 2008

Bowl week a mix of business, pleasure

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The Missouri Tigers have been in San Antonio for five days now, though Alamo Bowl kickoff is still more than 48 hours away. Gary Pinkel is up front with his team about his approach to bowl week.

"Our philosophy is you prepare really well going down and then once you get down there what you do is you get up early, you have good meetings, great focus, you have great practices and then you enjoy yourself the rest of the day," Pinkel said. "I want them to have a good time. Then you just kind of turn the screws in a little bit as the week goes on. It's going to be a reward. I want them to have a great time and enjoy themselves because they've worked very hard for this."

"It's a lot of fun," Chase Daniel said. "It's a vacation."

Up until when?

"Exactly," he said. "It's a vacation to the point of when we have practice in the morning, we have meetings in the morning, we're locked in, we're serious, we're all about business until that practice is over. T hen we're going to enjoy ourselves, have a good time."

The Tigers generally say bowl week is a pleasure trip as much as a business trip until two to three days before the game.

"About three days before the game, you start to see less laughter, less smiles," Ziggy Hood said. "Everybody's talking more serious than they were."

For some Tigers, it's even a little bit more fun than others. For the second straight year, 20-some players will return to their home state of Texas to play a post-season game for Mizzou.

"It's only an hour from my house," said Rockdale, TX native Stryker Sulak. "So it ain't that bad for me."

First and foremost, the Tigers want a win. But they also want to have a good time. From summer conditioning in early June through the final practice in San Antonio, there has not been much down time for the players in the last six months.

"That middle part of the day, we're going to enjoy ourselves," Daniel said. "Because maybe this season didn't turn out as well as we wanted it to, but it's still a bowl game. We're deserving to go to the Alamo Bowl and I know some fans don't want to hear it, but we're excited about it and we want to bring home a win for the fans."

On Christmas eve, the Tigers will have dinner as a team, and also a contest where each class and the coaching staff (with their wives) sings a Christmas carol. Pinkel was unsure of his song selection, but he did know one thing.

"That's gonna be an ugly sight," he said.

Hopefully, for the Tigers, that will be one more thing that changes by game day.

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