Hawai'i, Georgia Arrive For Sugar Bowl
Six of Warriors' seven previous bowl appearances came on home turf
Dec. 26, 2007
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Six of the University of Hawaii's seven previous bowl appearances were on the Warriors' home turf.
This year, Hawaii is the team that will have to adjust.
After an 11-hour flight through two time zones, the Warriors arrived in New Orleans on Wednesday for their Sugar Bowl game against Georgia.
"I've been trying to prepare these players for the media and the hype surrounding a game of this magnitude," Warriors coach June Jones said after arriving in the pre-dawn hours at Louis S. Armstrong International Airport. "It's going to be a Super Bowl-like atmosphere. I don't think they have any idea what they're getting into."
Jones' team got a bit of a taste when they were greeted by a brass band, per Sugar Bowl tradition, as they disembarked from the plane.
Wide receiver Ryan Grice-Mullen said he's been to New Orleans once - when he was in first grade.
"I've heard about Bourbon Street, so maybe we'll check it out," Grice-Mullen said. "I don't think my parents took me there. We went to see some of the Mardi Gras, but it was during the day. I guess that's the kiddie Mardi Gras."
Shortly after checking into their downtown hotel, several players ventured to nearby shopping malls but most tried to counter their jet lag.
"After we checked in, my roommate and I went to sleep about seven (a.m.) and said we'd wake up in two hours," linebacker Brad Kalilimoku said. "When we woke up it was one o'clock."
Guard Hercules Satele said Jones warned the players "to stay away from where we shouldn't be."
Hawaii held a team meeting Wednesday night and was scheduled to practice for the first time Thursday afternoon at the New Orleans Saints' facility in Metairie.
The Bulldogs' traditional Sugar Bowl welcome came when they convened at their hotel Wednesday evening for a team meeting that was followed by a practice at the Superdome.
Georgia is making its third appearance in the Sugar Bowl in six years. One of their appearances was in the Georgia Dome, though, because Hurricane Katrina rendered the Superdome unusable.
"To be able to go to the Sugar Bowl every other year would be pretty exciting," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said. "We've been able to do that the last six years. It's so good to be back here and see the city up and running again.
"We probably have more coaches' kids here than we have players. The families will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy themselves."
Richt said he'll give the players an opportunity to enjoy themselves too, within certain restraints. They've been told not to go to any casinos and not to leave the hotel alone.
They, like the Warriors, will have curfew.
After several teams ranked in front of them were upset late in the season, the Bulldogs hoped to come to New Orleans a week later than this, to play in the BCS Championships. But after a 35-14 drubbing at the hands on Tennessee on Oct. 6, Georgia's postseason expectations were far more modest.
Then the Bulldogs won their final six games and are satisfied with where they wound up.
"What a difference six games can make," center Fernando Velasco said. "After that Tennessee loss, a lot of people thought we'd be going to the Music City Bowl at best. To be in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl is very prestigious. It's a blessing."