A quiet group of Huskies boarded five buses at approximately
5:30 a.m. this morning for the first leg, and first day, of the bowl trip to
Boise, Idaho. The buses picked up the
group behind the Convocation Center and the most hazardous part of the trip may
have been the journey from the car to the bus across a sheet of ice while carrying,
or rolling, a bag carrying five days' worth of clothing.
Once filled, the buses set off for Rockford Airport where we
rolled onto the tarmac and a very chilly group of TSA employees were waiting
for the outdoor check-in procedure.
While it was slightly uncomfortable for those of us on the buses, it had
to be freezing for those folks who had to stand out in the sub-zero wind chill
for over an hour.
Everyone seemed to remember their ID and after a slight
delay due to an extra-large trunk carrying some additional cold weather capes
had to be partially emptied, the flight departed at approximately 9 a.m.
(CST). The pilot informed us that the
flying time was 3:22 and every seat on the plane was filled, with
administrators and coaches and their families at the front, followed by support
staff (doctors, athletic trainers, equipment staff) and finally players.
Unlike a "normal" road trip which is limited to 65 players
for MAC games and usually only a few more than that (72-74) for the
non-conference season, nearly every player on the 2010 roster was able to make
the Humanitarian Bowl trip. In fact, a
handful of staffers (including the Media Services crew who film practice,
marketing and ticket office staff), had to take a commercial flight. That group left campus at 3:30 am!
There were a handful of "first time" flyers on the trip among the additional players, including rookie center Mike Gegner, junior college transfer Matt Battaglia and snapper Brian Mayer. The group had a breakfast "snack" (bagel, nutri-grain bar) immediately upon board the plane and once airborne, were served a hot (well, semi-hot) breakfast of pancakes and sausage, orange juice, grapefruit and croissant.
As the plane descended into Boise, passengers on the left side of the plane got their first glimpse of the famous "blue turf" of Bronco Stadium.
The Miami Air flight was smooth and Northern Illinois landed
in Boise at 11:30 am (Mountain Time).
The Huskies deplaned and got a full police escort to the hotel as
traffic was stopped along the highways for the city's special guests.
Upon arrival at the hotel, Gegner reported that he "really
enjoyed" the flight while Mayer said it was "fine" and that he slept almost the
We'll be back later to report on the "Bowl for
Beef" - a competitive bowling event between the teams - and the Welcome Dinner
and Gift Suite pick-up.