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 whole time.

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.  

MAC Basketball Blog

MAC Basketball Blog