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Archive for Saturday, December 10, 2005

KU players must avoid bowl distractions

December 10, 2005

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There won't be much time to relax, but it's nothing the Kansas University football team hasn't experienced before.

The Jayhawks are preparing for the Fort Worth Bowl, which will be played at 7 p.m. Dec. 23 against Houston. As is custom across college football, KU plans to arrive in Fort Worth several days before the game to get situated and participate in bowl-related functions the whole week.

There's a bunch of them, too. On Dec. 20, the Fort Worth Bowl will hold a welcome reception for both teams, and the activities after that -- along with the daily practices -- will leave little time for much else.

"You have a lot of distractions," center David Ochoa said. "I think it will be good for us because now we're a mature team that can handle those distractions."

The Wednesday before the game, Dec. 21, is the busiest day for such extracurricular activities. On that day, the team will visit a children's hospital in the afternoon before a downtown steakhouse treats them to a team dinner that night. A Thursday news conference will be followed by a kickoff luncheon before the team finally can devote 100 percent of its focus to football.

Many of this year's players have experienced such a schedule, as Ochoa alluded to. The 2003 Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, Fla., featured a trip to Disney World and a stop at the Give Kids the World Village, a resort for children with life-threatening illnesses.

Some of the players said the first bowl experience was a lot to take in, but they don't see it being any big deal this time.

"We've all been there. We're experienced," Ochoa said. "We know what to expect, and we know what we need to do on a stage like this."

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