If you thought the Hawai'i Bowl was the biggest attraction at Aloha Stadium this week, at least for now you would be wrong. What's currently drawing throngs of people is the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet. It happens Dec. 17-23, from 6:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. each day, at stalls all around the outside of the stadium. You can find just about anything made in Hawai'i, from jewelry, to fresh fruit, to Hawaiian fashions of all sorts. And all at dirt-cheap prices. At one stand, they'll hack open a coconut with a machete and you can eat it on the spot. Locals say Hawai'i natives from all the other islands come in for this event - and most are oblivious to the fact the Notre Dame team has been practicing inside the facility.
The bus driver on one of the team buses this morning had a hard time fathoming the weather conditions back in South Bend. "The temperature is two below? You mean two less than zero? How can that happen?" he asked. He had no idea that the leaves fall off the trees in fall and winter in the Midwest -- and he had no idea that salt is used to melt the ice.
Meanwhile, Jeff Jeffers' WNDU-TV satellite feeds back to South Bend have been complicated because of the heavy ice and snow on the satellite dishes themselves outside the WNDU studios back in South Bend. WNDU employees literally had to go out and clear snow and ice out of the bowls of the dishes so the appropriate reception could take place on the video feeds.
Charlie Weis' right knee continues to give him difficulty. He's wearing an immobilizer and spending most of practices perched at midfield on one sideline. Weis and the Irish medical team are still plotting the best course of action to get his knees repaired and back in shape
Next stop for the players was the Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park (the players picked up KFC box lunches after practice on the way to the buses). Despite access to the ocean and Waikiki beaches, this official bowl event has drawn rave reviews from previous participants. And so, it was a rather strange sight to see the entire team leaving the stadium in board shorts and flip-flops (assistant coach Rob Ianello's lime green suit drew rave reviews).
Bowl banquets don't normally rate all that high on the entertainment scale - but the 2008 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl qualified as an exception. Held at the Sheraton Waikiki (Notre Dame's team hotel) and sponsored by Royal Hawaiian Center and Hawaiian Telcom Yellow Pages, the event got off to a roaring start when the Hawai'i players stood on their chairs and cheered as the Hawai'i band entered the ballroom. Next came a Hawai'i cheerleader carried in on a surfboard. Not to be outdone, the Irish players stood on their chairs and provided their own version of their 2008 cheer "Crank Me Up." The Warrior delegation responded by chanting "Rudy, Rudy . . . ." It was all in fun, leaving the presidents, athletics directors and head coaches of the two teams with tough acts to follow with their post-dinner remarks.