Greetings from Tampa. Or, more accurately, Indian Rocks Beach. That’s where I’m staying this week.
Brought the fam and found a great deal on a condo on this little strip of beach just south of Clearwater and Sand Key. So while I’m shuffling between football practices and news conferences and luncheons covering the Bulldogs this week, at least my wife and son can enjoy some sand and surf.
Getting here was no small task. I don’t know how many Georgia fans are making the hike down here — the Bulldogs sold out of their 12,500-ticket allotment and many more are supposedy coming in addition — but if you’re driving, be sure to allow yourself some extra time. I left mid-morning Monday and, , including a stop for gas and one short stop for a quick meal, it took us 10 hours to get here. Normally it should take 7 or 8. About the time I saw my first column of brake lights I remembered an old vow to never travel the day after Christmas.
Construction along I-75 in South Georgia — hasn’t that been going on for like 30 years now? — exacerbated the situation. That and the uncanny knack of people to run their cars into the back of others. I saw it happen three times myself. So if you’re driving I’d humbly suggest leaving really early in the morning or late at night. That, or just do what I usually do — fly here.
Anyway, as a result of the unanticipated delays, I didn’t make it to A La Carte Pavilion for the “Outback Steakhouse Team Welcome Dinner” for both the Bulldogs and Michigan State Spartans. My chief reason for wanting to make that was to find out if all the players showed up. Invariably there are some stragglers or academic casualties for bowl games.
But I spoke on the phone to UGA Sports Communication associate Steve Colquitt and he assured me that everybody showed up on time except for one unnamed player who got sick on the way down (he had to stop but is expected later). Otherwise everybody is expected to be present and accounted for.
If you want more details, my pal Gentry Estes, clearly a more proficient traveler, made it for Monday evening’s festivities and filed this report at Dawgs247.com. He reports that head coach Mark Richt said that all players maintained their eligibility for this year’s bowl, a marked improvement over last year when there were three academic casualties for the Liberty Bowl.
The Bulldogs will resume preparations in earnest Tuesday morning with their first workout at the University of Tampa. I’ll file some reports from there later. They moved the starting time up 20 minutes because of expected rainy weather. Forecasts call for rain all day and perhaps some thunderstorms, but it’s supposed to clear out quick and be sunny and mild the rest of the week.
So come on down! Just take your time getting here.
There’s much more to come this week. In the meantime, here’s some links to the last few stories I’ve written in advance of the Outback Bowl: