After a particularly long Friday (that included purple leis for everybody in the travel party as they arrived at the Sheraton Waikiki), the first full day in Hawai'i dawned early. Hawai'i Bowl officials provided a 7:15 a.m. security briefing for the players - then it was off to meetings and a 10:15 a.m. practice at Aloha Stadium.
The morning drive to the stadium featured a mix of clouds and sun - and a rainbow to boot. Maybe a good sign . . . .
Nothing makes the time difference hit home more than watching Wake Forest and Navy kick off in a bowl game at 6:00 a.m. local time.
If there's anything better than the fresh pineapple available here for breakfast (and any other time for that matter), please let us know.
The local (as in Notre Dame) print media contingent is non-existent today, in part because of a couple of writers who cover the Irish were stranded overnight in Phoenix because of weather delays back in the Midwest.
It's 10 a.m. in Aloha Stadium, the sun is warm - and no one is complaining.
Fair-skinned assistant coach Brian Polian wasted no time applying the sun block - in this case, a new 36 SPF gel he described as the "Cadillac of sunscreens."
The Aloha Stadium end zones read "Aloha From Hawai'i." The Hawai'i Bowl logo at midfield spans 15 yards and there are two Sheraton logos 10 yards long each from each 20 to the 30. After the Notre Dame practice, stadium workers immediately covered the logos with huge plastic sheets in case of rain overnight.
Jimmy Clausen, Armando Allen, Sam Young, Eric Olsen and Golden Tate handled post-practice interviews (with Tate wearing his purple lei). The media questions revolved as much around the long travel schedule, the warm weather and the Hawai'i distractions as they did about football. The motto appears to be -- win the game and have fun.
One local media member snapped a shot of quarterback Nate Montana after practice. Montana stopped and took off his sunglasses. Turns out the photographer was particularly interested in Montana's bright orange sunglasses -and he asked him to put them back on.
The Irish players grabbed a quick lunch at the stadium -- plates of beef, chicken and ham, accompanied by macaroni, fruit and lettuce salad, and chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies - all catered by a Honolulu establishment named Murphy's Bar & Grill (seriously).
After practice, the Irish squad headed for a tour of Pearl Harbor.
Seen on a shirt - "Hula Like A Champion Today."
About 5:00 p.m., the Irish players and coaches walked about 20 minutes down the beach to Queen's Surf Beach, a public beach in the middle of Waikiki, for the Outback Barefoot Pep Rally. Both teams ate dinner on the beach and the two head coaches made brief remarks. The scene was more than a little idyllic, as Sunset the Band entertained the crowd, while sailboats cruised in the distance in front of a beautiful sunset. Meanwhile, a mix of locals and tourists wandered out of the ocean with their boogie boards in tow - and dozens more remained in the water. There are some serious, hard-core surfer dudes on these beaches - they don't look like they've missed a wave in years.