Although it has not exactly been a vacation for Naval Academy football players to write home about, the Mids still are happy to be in San Diego awaiting Friday night's Holiday Bowl appointment with Brigham Young.
First, the Mids stepped off the plane Monady morning into a down-pour. The rain finally stopped and the team held its first workout on a field that was, according to defensive back Gregg Milo, "like practicing in a bath." The players still were looking yesterday through windswept clouds for that famed Southern California sun.
However, the climate is expected to return to normal for the contest against the Western Athletic Conference champion Cougars. The 9 p.m. (EST) game will be Navy's first bowl appearance since 1963 (WDCA-TV-20).
The inaugural Holiday Bowl has been given the ticket scalpers seal of approval as being big time. Entrepreneurs reportedly have been commanding $50 for a $10 ticket. The 52,000 seat San Diego Stadium has been sold out for a month-largely because of the heavy concentration of naval personnel in the area.
But that is of little import to the Mids, who are slated for a week of activites.
"Coach (George) Welsh told us to give him two hours a day on the practice field and pay attention at the meetings," said split end Phil Mcconkey. "after that, our time is our own."
The bowl committee has provided courtesy cars and has arranged a full schedule of tours and luncheons. The players have no curfew until Thursday night, and they haven't been told to stay out of Tiajuana.
"There are a lot of things going on," Milo said, "but we shold be ablt to handle them. We don't want to come all the way out here to lose it."
The Mids practiced Sunday at the Academy after a week's layoff for final exams. The ground in Annapolis was wet, a condition that prepared the Mids for sodden San Diego.
"A lot of guys were rusty," McConkey said. "The kicking game suffered the most because of the soaked practice field (in San Diego). The linemen seemed to be in the swing of things, thoug. Overall, it was a pretty good practice, despite the weather."
McConkey said the different enviornment added a bit of excitement to rpactice sessions normally considered tedious by this point of theseason.
"It's been kind of a weird feeling," McConkey said. "At first, it was like a vacation, but the closer Friday gets, the more it becomes like any other game. If we win, it'll be great; if we lose, it'll be the same terrible feeling as a regular-season loss."
McConkey injured his knee against Syracuse in Navy's ninth game, missed the Florida State game and saw action for only three plays against Army. He has since practiced at nearly full speed, but he admitted the knee still is not as strong as he had hoped.
The Mids know little about their opponent other than what they have seen on films.
"they put a lot of guys in motion [and] change formations maybe five times before their final set," Milo said. "It doesn't seem like they run a whole lot."
Welsh compared the potent Cougar passing attack with that of Florida State-which buried the Middies, 38-6.
"They seem to throw as well or better than Florida State," Milo added.