Reporting from Austin: Getting the Longhorns to LA
Before second-ranked Texas can take on USC in the Rose Bowl on January 4th, they have to get everyone to Pasadena.
On December 28th, the team will fly from Austin to Los Angeles. "We'll take a party of about 400 people, including players, coaches, support staff and family and members of the Longhorn Foundation," said Ed Goble, the university's associate athletic director for business affairs who is supervising the trip.
Another 430 band members will also be flown out for the Rose Bowl festivities, putting the University in charge of making travel arrangements for nearly 900 people.
Communication is the key to making it all happen. "It's hard when you have that many people you are in charge of," said Goble, who added that he's got a lot of support and, "doesn't have to get caught up in all the details."
This year, the UT players will be staying in the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. The band members will be hosted at a separate, less expensive facility.
"The travel budget for UT this year comes to approximately $2.5 million," said Goble. The majority of that money comes from a travel allowance and the remaining from ticket sales.
But Goble doesn't just have to get the people associated with the football program out to LA. "We move our whole operation out there on an 18-wheeler," he said. The truck carries football and office equipment. "We basically set up football practices and an entire operations office in Pasadena."
Goble said the fact that this is the Longhorns' second consecutive trip to the Rose Bowl makes things easier. "It's virtually an identical process to last year, only we don't have to go through the same learning curve," he said. "It's easier because of the familiarity for both the coaches and the players."
But last year's Rose Bowl didn't double as the National Championship game, and Goble said he expects a different attitude from everyone this time around. "I think they will be more business-like because they know what they stand to lose with a championship game."
Because the game is on January 4th, the team will be able to ring in the New Year -- with limits. "The players do have some liberty at night," said Goble, "but there are two types of control the coaches are using. They have curfews and early morning practices on New Year's Day." Goble said he didn't expect any problems. "The kids are pretty business-like," he reiterated.
Still, Goble said the Longhorns will be enjoying their time in Southern California.
"Austin doesn't have the same star power of Los Angeles, so this is a big deal for us."