Honolulu, HI Playing in a bowl game is nothing new to Boise State.  After all, the Broncos have been to six straight post-season bowl games and eight in the last nine years.  Pressure games to end the season?  Again, not foreign to BSU players, as the team has faced a top 25 opponent in a bowl game four times, including top 10 matchups with Oklahoma last year and Louisville in the 2004 Liberty Bowl.


But, this year, there’s a different challenge facing Bronco players and coaches:  The distraction of a bowl game that is the envy of probably every college football team not playing in a BCS game or a New Year’s Day bowl.  A week spent on Paradise, at the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.  Beach parties, luaus, surfing, fun in the sun and the lights and glamour of Waikiki


Oh, and don’t forget a December 23rd matchup with an opponent in East Carolina that is savoring an opportunity at facing a college football darling in Boise State.  Which begs the question: How are the Broncos keeping that balance between preparation for the game and enjoying all that a bowl game in Hawaii brings to the table?


“That’s the whole trick to a bowl game is to practice hard, stay focused and keep that in the back of your mind even when you’re not on the practice field,” said Boise State head coach Chris Petersen, who owns a 23-2 record in his two years as head coach.  “But, then enjoy the sights and sounds and scenery that these guys deserve to experience.”


One thing is certain, there is a schedule and a routine that is followed.  Eight different hotel rooms have been converted into position meeting rooms, complete with video projectors that are in constant use.  Players and coaches begin looking at tape as early as 6:00 a.m.  Breakfast is served at 6:30 a.m., with a majority of frontline players returning right to the breakout rooms to continue watching practice and game video prior to position meetings starting up around 8:20 a.m.


Then it’s off to the University of Hawaii campus for the two hour practice which begins at 9:30 a.m. each day this week. 


“A big part of our preparation took place the last couple of weeks in Boise.  We got in there and watched a ton of film on East Carolina,” said senior tight end Ryan Putnam.  “Getting stuff done before we arrived here helps us now be able to enjoy it over here.  That way we do have a little more time to relax.”


“It’s good we practice in the morning and get our meetings out of the way.  All the focus during the first part of the day is on football and nothing else,” added All-WAC safety Marty Tadman.  “After that, you have football in the back of your mind, but we can also enjoy ourselves, take in the bowl festivities and enjoy your teammates.”


The bowl schedule provides for a full slate of activities, that Bronco players and coaches participate fully in during the afternoon and evening.  For instance, Wednesday’s docket included an afternoon tour of historic Pearl Harbor, marking the first (and perhaps only) time many of the players or staff will visit the memorial that marks a key moment in American history.


A quick stop back at the hotel on Wednesday allowed the players time to change for the team bowl photo and then off to the Royal Hawaiian Luau on Wednesday evening.  While free time is allowed following the luau, many of the players will find their way back to one of the meeting rooms for some more video study.


“There is the need to watch film during the day and get some additional time in,” said Tadman.


“If we come here with a business trip mentality we’ll get our work done,” said emerging freshman wide receiver Austin Pettis.  “The mornings are dedicated all to football.  Then we can get out and enjoy things, but our mind is set on football and winning this game.  There is no question about that.”


“I like what the coaches do,” commented junior linebacker Tim Brady.  “They give us time to go out and enjoy ourselves and step back from football.  When we’re on the practice field or in the meeting room, it’s 100 percent football.  When we’re out with teammates and hanging on the beach or wherever, you have to shift and enjoy that and put football on the back burner.”


The 2007 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl is the bowl destination Bronco players sought out when a return trip to a BCS game didn’t become reality.  The fruits of a 10-2 regular season and top 25 ranking are now being enjoyed, complete with the sand, sun and fun. 


A bowl experience that few other games can rival.  And, one that certainly requires Bronco coaches and players to keep additional focus on the ultimate event of the week, Sunday’s nationally televised game.  A balancing act they seem to be managing with a business first, pleasure second mentality that a bowl veteran Boise State team has developed the past six years.


“I love to see our guys smile on and off the field,” said Petersen.  “This bowl does that.”


“This is the most activities we’ve experienced at a bowl in my time, which is awesome,” said Tadman.  “You never know if you’ll be out here again.  You have to take advantage of it and make some memories.  But, the whole experience won’t be the same if we’re not prepared and do everything we can to put ourselves in the best position possible to win the game.”          


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