N.O. Bowl Update - Team arrival notes & quotes

by Dan McDonald

The notebook fills early as the Ragin' Cajuns settle into their bowl-game routine Tuesday afternoon, five days before the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

N.O. Bowl Update Tuesday, 12/13, 5:10 p.m.

NEW ORLEANS Cajun fans that haven't already picked up tickets for Saturday's R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl may now have to get them upon arrival in the Crescent City.

UL director of athletics Scott Farmer updated the ticket status Tuesday upon UL's arrival in New Orleans, and said that fewer than 50 tickets remain for purchase in Lafayette. Those last few tickets are available at the Cajundome Box Office as long as they last.

"Once those are gone, you'll have to get them here or online," Farmer says, adding that ticket sales had topped the 18,000 mark through the Cajun ticket outlets in Lafayette.

Plenty of tickets remain for the game, of course, and fans will be able to walk up and purchase the regular $40 tickets at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome box office before the game and on game day. But there is no guarantee that any other tickets will be in the lower section behind the Cajun bench.

Fans getting tickets now are receiving hard tickets, after early purchases were reservations for tickets with actual pickup coming later. It's been all hard tickets since the weekend, and fans who reserved tickets early should have been contacted to pick them up at the Cajundome Box Office, and information is available at 265-2100. Box office hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday.

After Thursday, purchased tickets must be picked up in New Orleans either at the Ragin' Cajuns Fan Fest from 3-5 p.m. Friday in the New Orleans Marriott Grand Ballroom, or beginning three hours prior to the game Saturday at the UL Will Call Gate H at the Superdome.

SWAG: One bonus of teams being invited to bowl games is the opportunity for players to receive official bowl gifts things that under normal circumstances would not be allowed by NCAA rules as "extra benefits."

The Cajun and San Diego State players will do very well on the gift front. Each player receives a Samsung Galaxy Tablet as the official bowl gift, and also received a Cajun-red wind suit with the bowl logo prominently displayed, a back pack, a hat, a long-sleeve shirt and a commemorative football from the bowl and the university.

The Sun Belt Conference also gave shirts and hats to the team parties, and the Cajuns figure to also receive a ring for their bowl participation.

"They made out really good," says Cajun equipment manager Lyle Williams.

IN A HURRY?: Farmer and UL assistant athletic director John Dugas drove to New Orleans ahead of the team on Tuesday, but were apparently in a bit of a hurry since they were stopped by police for speeding along the way.

Apparently, the conversation was something like this:

OFFICER: "Are you a coach?"

FARMER (as passenger): "No, I'm the athletic director."

OFFICER: "Have a nice day."

"We were loaded down," Farmer says, "so he knew we were headed for the bowl game."

ADDED ATTRACTION: Less than 10 minutes before the team's arrival at the Marriott, a brief parade was in front of the hotel as part of a welcome for a group of national agents from American Express Travel. The McDonogh 35 high school band and a group of stilt-walkers were parading down Canal Street with the American Express participants and provided a good warmup for the team arrival minutes later.

FIRST FOR THE OLD VET: Greg Stewart, the Cajuns' defensive coordinator, is a veteran of more than 20 years of collegiate football coaching, including 18 years with a strong Division II program at Jacksonville State.

But Tuesday afternoon was the first time the fiery Stewart had the chance to be welcomed to town for a bowl game.

"We were in the playoffs an awful lot," said Stewart of his time at Jacksonville State and Delta State. "But we were always either playing at home or we were the enemy."

Stewart also played at new-Sun Belt Conference member Troy, where he helped lead the Trojans to two NCAA Division II national titles. But again, no bowl game.

"That atmosphere downstairs that was big-time," Stewart said. "I've never gotten that kind of reception. I'm excited that my family's going to be down here, all the girls (daughters Jessie Kate, Hannah, Kinsey and Holly) are coming in. I'll be really nervous for five days."

But Stewart, the wily vet he is, isn't going to get caught up too much in the hoopla.

"All I'm trying to do this week is stop the run," he laughed when asked about his bowl week.