Dec. 28, 2009
SAN DIEGO--The University of Arizona football team enjoyed its penultimate public bowl-season feature Monday with an onboard luncheon and tour of the USS Makin Island amphibious assault ship being readied for service here at the San Diego Naval Station.
The Cats enjoyed a leisurely morning and then bused at mid day to the naval base for ceremonies aboard the USS Makin.
Tuesday's Kick-off Luncheon downtown at the San Diego Convention Center will wrap up the civic experience portion of the trip here, with the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl game against No. 20 Nebraska scheduled for 5 p.m. (PST) Wednesday at Qualcomm Stadium.
Head Coach Mike Stoops, who received a warrior's cap from Makin's commander Capt. Robert Kopas at the luncheon, will take part in the bowl's coaches news conference earlier Tuesday, but after that it's all business in the final hours leading up to the game.
The Cats enjoyed a shipboard luncheon and remarks by Capt. Kopas and others including Stoops, NU Coach Bo Pelini and Brig. Gen, Ronald Bailey, commanding general of the Western Recruiting Region (everything west of the Mississippi River), who looked out at the crowd of young, healthy players and called it a "target-rich" gathering of potential Marines.
UA director of equipment operations, Wendell Neal, was honored with the Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp Trophy, awarded to a member of each pariticipating program for commitment, motivation and teamwork that contribute to the team's overall success.
A tour of the 847-foot vessel followed. The ship has a crew of 1,100 and can handle a Marine detachment of some 1,500. Its aircraft include 45 CH-46 helicopters, five Harrier Jump Jets and five anti-submarine warfare helos, along with numerous amphibious vehicles.
The team practiced for the final time at the University of San Diego later Monday afternoon and was to attend a movie Monday night.