I guess we aren’t the only ones who had travel issues yesterday (check out my first blog for more information). I don't feel so bad now. The Eastern Washington football team had no problem arriving in Dallas, but it's not the same story for their equipment. It sounds like there was a mix up between the NCAA and the travel agency, so they sent too small of a charter plane to Spokane. The Eagles had to leave their jerseys, video equipment, and other gear behind (it was FedEx’d to Frisco today).
Eastern’s schedule was completely rearranged today because of the mix up. The Eagles were supposed to have a team photo, media availability, and practice in the morning. Instead of starting the day on the field, Eastern began with events off the field in the afternoon. The Eagles were special guests at a "Stay in School" assembly at a local elementary school before they came back to the stadium for their football obligations. EWU took a team photo, met with the media, and then practiced at one of the side fields at Pizza Hut Park (there are 17 fields at the complex). The Eags then wrapped up a busy day with the Great Texas Barbecue Bowl, a huge feast with live music honoring the two squads for making it to the FCS national championship.
Delaware had no problems getting to Texas (even though it took them seven hours). They ran on schedule today. We caught up with them for their team photo and talked to them for the first time. They’ve won six national championships in the past and would love nothing more than to make it seven titles. The senior class has extra motivation. They played for a national crown in 2007, but lost to Appalachian State (the Mountaineers beat EWU 38-35 in the playoffs that season). Defensive back Anthony Bratton says he wants “revenge”.
I’m not sure what to tell you about Frisco. It’s a weird city. It might just be the location we’re in, but I’m not positive people even live here. This place is like a ghost town. Everything is really new (Frisco is one of the fastest growing cities in the country), so I feel like we’re driving around a movie set. It seems really fake to me. They’ve even tried to make areas look old (buildings in a row like the old west), but with new brick buildings. I hope that makes sense. It’s awkward. I’m not exactly giving the city a fair shot, because they have clearly embraced the championship game. You can see banners and signs hanging all over the city (even our room key has the logo on it). I've even seen businesses painting the EWU and Delaware logos on their store windows.
As for Pizza Hut Park, it’s a small stadium (seats about 20,000) people, but it’s in great shape. The field is home to the Major League Soccer team in Dallas. That probably explains why it's so well groomed. Here are a couple of pictures I snapped of the field this morning (1 , 2). It’s a natural grass field, so that will be something different for the Eagles (they’ve only played one other game this season on real grass). We'll see how they respond to a different atmosphere (they haven't played away from home since October).
I forgot to mention this story last night, but it’s too good to not pass along. The woman who was giving us our rental car gave us a free upgrade. We had the choice of a Dodge Charger or a Chevrolet Impala. We went with the Impala (I rolled in a Charger for the Humanitarian Bowl last year, so I wanted to mix things up). She then gave us a choice of color: black, white, or red. I immediately said, “We have to go with red to represent Eastern Washington!” The lady looked at me like I was nuts (she obviously doesn’t know about the FCS national championship), but she handed over the keys. So, we are rolling in a red Impala to show support for the Eagles.
That's it for tonight! Go Eags!!!