What goes into a bowl game? WKU preps weeks in advance for New Orleans Bowl

NEW ORLEANS, La.-The Hilltoppers take on the Jaguars in just a couple of days. But it takes a lot more prep in the weeks leading up to the big game. 

“It’s an enormous production,” said WKU Director of Athletics Todd Stewart. 

“It’s just you go, you start, you go as fast as you can,” said WKU Chief of Football Staff Nick Uhlenhopp. 

The prep starts at home, in Bowling Green.

“We have to keep our players about a week and a half longer than we normally would with school finishing up. Making sure things are good in terms of where they’re staying, having a place to eat and coordinating the practice schedule,” said Stewart. 

Staff found out which bowl game WKU would be on December 4. 

“New Orleans was one we always wanted to go to and so we were excited to get the opportunity but knew that we had a lot to do,” said WKU Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director Jim Clark. 

The next day they were on a flight to scope out the sight and where the team would stay.

“We found out Sunday officially and Monday we’re down here and we flew back Wednesday morning,” said Uhlenhopp. 

Staff prepare for more people traveling with the team, two planes for the bowl instead of 1 for typical away games for coaches’ and staff’s family. 

“Around 310 people, some people drove or traveled on their own, normal game is 160 so you’re about double the size,” said Uhlenhopp. 

Orders went in for personalized bowl gear, specific for the Superdome they will be playing in.

“We don’t need any rain gear or anything like that because we’re inside. Don’t need cold gear, we’re inside, so that made it a lot easier,” said WKU Head Equipment Manager Ben Hayden. 

Every detail matters…and equipment staff is responsible for making sure the players have all the right gear. 

“Checked, triple checked, checked again. We don’t ever sacrifice the extra effort to ever not do it correctly,” said Hayden. 

You might think well, it’s just one game. one game…that sets up for a new season of success next year. 

“If the players are happy and they’re excited and they’re taken care of, from per diem and food and that stuff, come game time they’re ready to play. But the biggest part is come January and they’re ready to work and the goal is to get to a bowl, they had such a great experience they’re ready to work,” said Uhlenhopp. 

The game kicks off Wednesday at 8 p.m.