The Night Before Alabama...
September 6, 2000
It was Friday and the team just got done with its walk-through at the Rose Bowl. There the team goes over any last minute questions that either the players or the coaches have. Following the practice the team heads to the Ritz-Carlton Huntington in Pasadena; not a bad place to stay, wouldn't you say?
After we arrive at the hotel, the players have about an hour to get settled into their rooms before dinner. Every player shares a room with another teammate, and for the first game it's fun because you find out who your roommate will be for the year. My roommate this year is the big-hitting Robert Thomas; we'll definitely have a good time. Also during this time, the players quickly try to find out what movies the hotel is offering before all the good ones are taken. Robert and I ordered the Gladiator. Talk about a good movie for football players to watch before a game. All I can say is wow!
Then all players meet for dinner. We are fed pastas, meats, and potatoes - a good hearty meal that should fill us up. The great thing about this year's team is the chemistry between all the players, and it was very evident at dinner. The seniors were eating with freshmen, other races were eating with each other, offensive players were mixing with defensive players. This type of behavior is a very key ingredient for a successful team.
After dinner the entire team goes into a room to have a meeting. At this meeting Coach Toledo speaks about the game, then he introduces the captains for all the different special teams and the game captains. Each captain takes a minute to talk about the team and then about the game. This Friday night each captain specifically reinforced to the team that everyone in the room must believe that we were capable of winning. Throughout the week prior to the game our motto was "believe it". Guys were so fired up, especially after players like Tony White and Brain Fletcher talked to the team. I thought we could play the game right then.
When we finished the meeting the players that need to get treatment on their bodies went to the training room where the head trainers Debbie, Geoff, and Jeff take care of us. If you're a player that does not need treatment, this is a time for you to go rest in your room by watching a movie, say hello to family in the lobby, focus on the game or study your playbook. Also during this time after training room is closed, the players have a bible study they can go to if they want, which takes place around 9:30pm. Then at 10:00 p.m. there is a snack that is offered for those players who didn't eat enough for dinner. And trust me, moms, everyone comes and gets food. By this time the players are all well-nourished and tired, so everyone heads to their room to get a good night's rest to beat Alabama. I guess it worked.
The hunger the players had to redeem themselves and this program is what fueled us to play so well. Each player, coach, trainer, water boy and equipment manager believed we were going to win that game. No one knew how good we were going to be until we unleashed it on Alabama. We said all along that we we're going to shock the world, and that's what we did.
PHILOSOPHY OF THE WEEK: