From Pullman -- The Cougars again practiced indoors, meaning that we who are banned from practice (everyone) only saw the first 15 minutes (media only). What we saw was an upbeat group of Cougars who seemed excited to be heading to their first bowl game even though many of them had yet to hear about the gifts.
The Cougars won't have as many extra practice as most team thanks to an early game and finals week. But they're making the most of them, albeit with a slightly disheveled schedule.
"Well it’s a real erratic schedule, in the end you’d like to have a little more time off this week then we’re able to have," coach Mike Leach said. "But the biggest thing, it hasn’t been too bad, you just bounce the schedule around and it seems like every day we’re practicing at a different time. That’s to accommodate their academics which is important."
More after the jump.
We got to speak with some players, who told us the various ways in which they found out that they'd been invited to the New Mexico Bowl. Deone Bucannon saw the announcement on ESPN, Marcus Mason was hanging at home, other players had an inkling after the announcement leaked on certain letter-restricting social media websites.
"It was just a confirmation type thing," Mason said. "I always knew we were going to go but when it was confirmed it was pretty good, like a weight off my shoulders."
Leach knew for certain when his phone blew up with text messages from friends, family, well-wishers, and ticket-wanters. But because Leach knew all along that his team was bowl-bound, the announcement came as neither a shock nor a surprise.
"You guys might have had some uncertainty, I really didn’t and I (the team) did unless they read too much of the bunk that’s written," Leach said. Still, the coach seemed happy to be headed to Albuquerque.
"Been there several times, coached there a number of times against the University of New Mexico," Leach said. "Santa Fe’s a great town if you’ve never been there, so is Albuquerque but more spread out. It’s beautiful country, gone skiing there a bunch."
Leach and some staff will head to Albuquerque tomorrow for the Gildan New Mexico Bowl Announcement Lunch and Press Conference. We expect to have quotes from that here on SportsLink.