Published Thursday, December 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm / Updated at 1:08 am
football
Huskers focused on putting the 'W' before R&R as bowl approaches
Gator Bowl: Nebraska vs. Georgia
When: 11 a.m. Wednesday
Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.
TV: ESPN2
Radio: 1110 AM KFAB

Nebraska's Gator Bowl ticket sales at 4,000

Nebraska's athletic department as of Thursday had sold about 4,000 of the 12,750 tickets alloted to the Huskers for the Gator Bowl.

About 1,000 of those distributed tickets were donated to the Veterans Ticket Foundation.

It's Big Ten policy that programs will be reimbursed by the league for any unsold bowl game tickets.

NU officials still expect a good number of Husker fans to attend the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1, but it's unclear what kind of crowd Nebraska's rematch with Georgia will draw.

Tickets were priced at $60, $80 and $125 through the Nebraska athletic ticket office, though as is typical, cheaper options can be found on the secondary market.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Nebraska players' first order of business Thursday was to file off the team buses and gather into a conference room so coach Bo Pelini could remind them what's at stake.

They'd spent the afternoon filling social media with photos and videos from their experience on the biggest jet in the United Airlines fleet. Then they had a police escort to the TPC Sawgrass Hotel, a resort surrounded by a PGA golf course and minutes from the beach.

And while Pelini wants his players to enjoy the perks associated with the weeklong stay in Jacksonville, he reminded them Thursday that the main priority is Wednesday's Gator Bowl against Georgia.

“It's a good balance of being able to get your work done, but at the same time, making sure you get to enjoy the experience,” Pelini said.

Pelini said not all players made the trip to Jacksonville, but he declined to identify the ones left home. He indicated that he planned to address the topic Friday. Nebraska practices at 9:30 a.m.

The Huskers reconvened Wednesday after a four-day break, and Pelini reminded them to keep their focus during the next week.

“Come out with a win,” sophomore defensive end Randy Gregory said. “That's what we're here for.”

Pelini didn't bring his golf clubs for a reason. “This is a business trip for me.”

Even so, the Huskers will find a way to have some fun between the meetings, practices and workouts.

They've got a beach party scheduled for Friday, and there's an event at a 50,000-square-foot entertainment center planned for Saturday. The TPC Sawgrass golf course, featuring an island green on the 17th hole, is on the hotel property and has already been discussed as a must-visit by many Huskers.

Live it up during the free time, says Pelini — as long as you're maintaining good judgment.

“(I) just said, make sure you're smart and you take care of each other,” Pelini said. “(We) want to have a good time, but we've got to be smart.”

The Huskers looked to be enjoying themselves Thursday as they paraded through the lobby of their team hotel.

As they do every year, they traveled in style to their bowl site, flying on United's 747 — with a wingspan of 211 feet, 5 inches and a capacity of more than 350 passengers, it's the largest jet used by the airline, according to the company website.

And the vessel had plenty of amenities.

A separate deck for first-class seats. TV screens for everyone. Cup holders on arm rests. Outlets for laptops or other devices.

Players took photos from the cockpit (before takeoff). The 6-foot-6 Gregory particularly liked his chair's 180-degree reclining ability.

“I was laying in my seat like I was in a bed. It was nice to have that much room on a plane,” he said. “I've never seen a plane like that in my life.”

* * *

>> Video: See Bo Pelini, Shawn Eichorst and Mark Richt arrive at a welcome party:

Contact the writer: Jon Nyatawa

jon.nyatawa@owh.com    |   402-473-9585    |  

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football and baseball, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008.

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