Thursday, January 2, 2003

Quiet New Year's Eve for Fiesta Bowl players

Fiesta Bowl notebook

By Josh Dubow
The Associated Press

PHOENIX - The Ohio State and Miami players didn't spend New Year's Eve out partying. Instead, it was mostly a quiet night in their hotels as the two teams prepare for Friday night's Fiesta Bowl.

"I don't think they wanted us to go out at all," Ohio State defensive end Will Smith said Wednesday. "We had a curfew at 11 p.m., so we stayed in the hotel. We had a game room and pool table so we had a couple of tournaments. Guys also played X-Box and checkers."

A couple of Miami players went out to movies, but most stayed in the hotel with a midnight curfew.

"I had a little dinner, relaxed a little bit, got some things done I needed to do," Hurricanes center Brett Romberg said.

Miami linebacker Jonathan Vilma watched television, but was disappointed in the coverage in the Mountain Time Zone.

"I was mad because ABC switched away right at 10 when the ball dropped," he said.

Buckeyes kicker Mike Nugent had dinner with his parents and got to bed by 10:30 p.m. Ohio State defensive tackle Tim Anderson stayed in his room and had a very mundane night.

"I folded my clothes," he said. "The room was getting a little messy."



After hearing lots of criticism about their conference, the Ohio State players are taking pride in the bowl performance of the Big Ten.

Big Ten teams are 4-1 in bowl games following Wednesday's win by Michigan and a loss by Penn State.

"A lot of guys have been talking about it," kicker Mike Nugent said. "The guys on ESPN have been saying that the Big Ten is the weakest conference this year. But we're doing great."

Nugent said he was even going to cheer for his school's archrival, Michigan. The Wolverines beat Florida 38-30 in the Outback Bowl.

"I know they should be our biggest rival, but as long as the Big Ten wins it speaks well for everyone else in the Big Ten," Nugent said. "I might have a different opinion than some guys but that's how I feel."

The Buckeyes aren't surprised about the success after getting through another grueling conference season.

"Every game you don't know who is going to win in the Big Ten," defensive end Darrion Scott said. "That's the difference between other conferences. Every game is a dogfight and you don't know what is going to happen."



Maurice Clarett's Ohio State teammates understand the difficult situation the freshman running back is going through after the death of a friend.

Clarett wasn't able to go back for the funeral - the reasons are in dispute between the player and the school. Clarett said he filled out the proper forms to get NCAA emergency funds, but the school said the paperwork was not complete.

"I feel bad for him," defensive lineman Tim Anderson said. "My heart goes out to him. Unfortunately I know what he's feeling because I lost one of my best friends last May. I can't imagine not being able to go to the funeral. He has to use this to motivate him in the game."

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Parcells tells ESPN he's heading to Dallas
Raiders' Gannon named MVP
NFL individual leaders

Daugherty: Awash in talent, Hurricanes amaze
Clarett flap overdone
UC coach saw early stardom in Tressel
Quiet New Year's Eve for Fiesta Bowl players
Buckeyes have history of coming up short
Miami's 20-year run worthy of dynasty status
McGahee, Clarett come long way to reach Fiesta Bowl
Winslow could give Miami a mismatch
Arizona legislators offered free Fiesta Bowl tickets
How Fiesta teams match up

OU rambles to Rose Bowl victory
Capital One: Auburn 13, Penn St. 9
Cotton: Texas 35, LSU 20
Gator: North Carolina St. 28, Notre Dame 6
Outback: Michigan 38, Florida 30
Rose: Oklahoma 34, Washington St. 14
Sugar: Georgia 26, Florida State 13
Big Ten 4-1 in bowl games

Chalmers' injury ails No. 19 XU

Without 1 assist, Moore gets start

Defense must dig in, Smith tells Wildcats
No. 25 Texas Tech 62, Houston 48

Preps sports schedules

Sports on TV, radio