ORLANDO -- Russell Athletic Bowl week is finally here.
The Hurricanes have all checked in, according to Chris Yandle, UM's assistant athletic director for communications. The players drove to Orlando, Yandle said, and all had to report by 3 p.m. They had the afternoon free. Some of the players spent the day at City Walk in Universal Studios.
There was no media access at their hotel or otherwise.
Tomorrow, the Canes (9-3) practice from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at The Citrus Bowl, where their game against Louisville (11-1) will be played at 6:45 p.m. Saturday. Practices are closed to the media, and only coaches will be available afterward. We were told the players will be on a Best Buy Shopping Spree that is closed to the media (I'd love one of those myself!)
The last time I greeted a Miami Hurricanes team for a bowl, it was in the airport of El Paso and guys like linebacker Jordan Futch and quarterback Jacory Harris and bowl head coach Jeff Stoutland (with a giant sombrero atop his head) were dancing with local women to the festive beat of mariachi musicians and colorfully costumed Viva El Paso dancers.
That was for the 2010 Hyundai Sun Bowl. El Paso is a border town that sits on the banks of the Rio Grande -- across the river from Ciudad Juarez in Chihuahua, Mexico. Juarez, known as the murder capital of the world, was off limits to the Canes and their Notre Dame counterparts, who got the same reception.
"A wonderful greeting, " Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said that day. "It certainly didn't disappoint in our first trip here as a team."
Kelly's Irish and the Canes each came into the game 7-5, but as Canes fans painfully remember, the Irish beat Miami soundly, a 31-17 drubbing in which Harris threw three interceptions in his seven passes, before being replaced by current senior quarterback Stephen Morris. Current Canes coach Al Golden, who already had been hired, watched that game from a stadium suite.
Miami has not won a bowl since its 21-20 win over Nevada in the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl -- Larry Coker's last game as coach.
Since then it's been three consecutive bowl losses.
Last I looked, Louisville was favored by 3 1/2 points. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will be nearly impossible to frazzle. Somehow, the Canes have to find a way with a defensive line that has not been particularly fearsome this season.
Weather update: It's clear and 77 degrees in Orlando now. The weather forecast for the game is partly cloudy, with 73 degrees as a high that day and 56 degrees as a low, and a 20-percent chance of rain. But that could change several times before Saturday.
Ticket update: Earlier this past week, Vivid Seats on the secondary ticket marketplace released its report on ticket prices for this year's NCAA bowl games, and cited tickets for the Russell Athletic Bowl as the 14th most expensive of all the bowls, with a median price of $98. "The Russell Athletic Bowl is a bargain compared to the BCS National Championship, however,'' Vivid Seats reported, "which currently has a median ticket price of $1,553.''
UM is staying at the Hilton Orlando and Louisville is at the Rosen Plaza Hotel. Louisville will practice at First Academy. The Cardinals' practices are also closed to the media and public.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN