It will take a lot to get the BYU football team ready for Saturday’s game at Notre Dame, and it’s not just game planning. After a couple of heartbreakers this season, the Cougars will try to exorcise their road demons against #5 Notre Dame; but going on the road is a challenge behind the scenes as well.
South Bend, Indiana is a Mecca for college football fans, partly because it’s so far away. BYU will travel 1,500 miles to face Heisman candidate Manti Te’o and the Fighting Irish, but they’re not driving to South Bend. The team takes a private jet to most of their away games.
“It’s fun. It’s nice,” said freshman defensive end Bronson Kaufusi. “(The jet is) very well equipped and they take good care of us.”
The Cougars don’t have to worry about packing their own gear either. Equipment Manager Mick Hill is in charge of transporting all player and medical equipment to each game. If you think planning a family road trip is tough, try packing for a band of 117 brothers.
“It’s about 18,000 pounds,” said Hill. “We’ll move it here if we’re playing at home and we move it if we’re playing across the country.”
However, football players still have plenty to worry about when they leave for an away game. NCAA rules say that all athletes must maintain at least a 2.3 GPA to play and an away game sometimes means the players miss classes.
“That’s probably the hardest thing,” said senior offensive tackle Braden Brown. “That doesn’t really apply to me this semester because I’m taking one credit. So I did it the right way.”
Players say that off-the-field preparation is just as important as the on-field variety. They will need both to upset the Irish.
Saturday marks the first meeting between Notre Dame and BYU since 2005- a 49-23 win for the Irish. The Cougars have yet to win a game away from home this season.