Saturday, December 18, 2010

Days 3-4 in New Orleans

E-Mail Ricky Hazel

By the time Thursday rolled around, things here in New Orleans had settled into a typical game-week routine.

Personally, the last couple of days have been rough. I have come down with my annual December cold and have spent more time in bed than anything else. Saw Jon Adams first thing on Friday to get a shot and some other meds, but was still not feeling well that evening.

Thursday included the Trojans' final practice at the dome. The session was a little late in getting started because several players spent time visiting the Children's Hospital here in New Orleans.

That is always one of the highlights of any bowl trip. The players really enjoy visiting the sick kids and watching their faces light up.

Thursday night the Troy University family got together for a reception at the Bourbon Vioux to celebrate another successful season. Dr. Jack Hawkins spoke to the crowd, as did director of Athletics Steve Dennis and head coach Larry Blakeney.

Many of the folks at the reception had a big time out on the balcony, which overlooks Bourbon Street. They were throwing beads down to Troy fans as they walked past, in typical New Orleans fashion. With the Sound of the South in town and many other students and fans rolling in, there were a lot of Trojans fans to choose from.

Friday morning started early with team photos at the Superdome at 8 a.m. One of the things that has told me that the Trojans are focused on the game is that there has not been a single incident with a player being late for a meeting, breakfast, or anything else.

Breakfast for the players was at 7:15 on Friday, and they were all there on time.

We got to the dome and took care of all the team and group photos in about 45 minutes. Jeff Shearer from WSFA was there and grabbed a couple of interviews. We've had good representation from the media this week. Patrick Claybon from WTVY has been in town for a couple of days, as has Tim Gayle from the Montgomery Advertiser. Drew Champlin from the Dothan Eagle has been here since Tuesday.

Following photos, Coach Blakeney spoke with the team about getting plenty of rest and preparing themselves, both mind and body, for the game. I didn't go to Bourbon Street last night, so I don't know if any players went out, but most of them were either hanging out in the lobby and taking it easy in their rooms.

Friday featured the bowl banquet, with both teams, both bands and cheerleaders for both schools. Former Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints star Deuce McAllister was the keynote speaker and he emphasized to all the players how important it is for them to take advantage of their opportunity and get an education.

The only major glitch at the luncheon was the MC referring to Troy State a couple of times. His error was pointed out and he made the correction. Like most events of this nature, the players hurried out afterward to find some food because the offering during the banquet was a little light.

There were three receptions to attend on Friday evening, but I only made it to two of them. The first reception was at Adams and Reese, a New Orleans law firm, and was hosted by former Trojan Britton Bonner. From there it was on to the Ernst Cafe for the New Orleans Bowl VIP party. There was another reception on the docket for later in the evening, hosted by Randall Moore, but I called it a night early.

On Saturday there is a Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues - $40 per person if you want to go -at 11 am. From there it is a quiet day leading up to game time. There is a Battle of the Bands set for 5:30 outside the Superdome. The Sound of the South, at more than 350 members strong, vs. the Ohio Marching 110 is a mismatch on an epic scale.

Hopefully, tonight's game will also be a mismatch.

I'll try to blog again following the game tonight, but it will likely be 1 or 2 am before I will be able to even think about it.

Go Trojans!

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