A different feel
This isn’t quite the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, or the AdvoCare V100 Bowl.
It is a Fiesta, after all.
This, the Fiesta Bowl, is big-time. And the players can feel it.
“It’s different than the other bowls,” said UA offensive lineman Mickey Baucus. “The way the Fiesta Bowl treats us, with such hospitality, you can tell this bowl is just on another level. It’s just a special place to be.
“And we get a police escort everywhere we go.”
That escort guided the Wildcats even just 15 minutes down the road to Scottsdale Community College, where Arizona practiced on Saturday and Sunday.
“I called it the army,” said receiver Austin Hill. “It felt like the president was getting escorted, and it was just to a practice, and a walk-through.”
The Wildcats’ team hotel for this trip, which started when the arrived at the Valley of the Sun on Friday, is Scottsdale Plaza Resort, a four-star spot according to expedia.com.
It’s not like the Wildcats haven’t stayed at a resort before — the night before home games in Tucson, the team stays at Westin La Paloma Resort.
For Terris Jones-Grigsby, a walk-on turned part-time starting running back, he still can’t believe he even has this opportunity in the first place.
“Me and Jared Baker, my roommate, we were thinking last night ‘Man, we’re in the Fiesta Bowl, look at this hotel suite we’re in.’ ” Jones-Grigsby said.
“But still,” he added,” “it’s not as nice as La Paloma, that’s our favorite. But this is still like, ‘Wow!’ ”
0 Players left on Boise State from the 2010 Fiesta Bowl winner. Bryan Harsin, Boise’s coach, was there as the offensive coordinator, though. “He asked everyone who had been to the Fiesta Bowl to raise their hands,” said linebacker Tanner Vallejo, “and it was only coaches who did.”
Fun and games
The Wildcats had some fun on Saturday night, as the team went to Dave & Buster’s in Phoenix for a little arcade action.
The most popular game? NASCAR and Fast and the Furious-inspired car racing games, where things got, of course, competitive.
“It was fun,” said center Steven Gurrola, “Everybody was competing, but I didn’t care, I just drove, cruising along.”
Baucus was focused on a life-sized pop-a-shot basketball game. He’s 6-foot-8, but height doesn’t really matter all that much in this version of basketball.
“I went 50/50 with wins and losses,” he said. “(UA safety) Will Parks took me out a couple times. (Student assistant) B.J. (Denker) had a couple wins.”
Hill brought his daughter along for the fun. She just wanted to hang out with her friends, though.
“She didn’t even really care to hang out with me much,” Hill said, smiling. “She just wanted to hang out with the girls. Told me ‘Bye!’ I was like, ‘I’m still here, but all right.’ ”
The Wildcats have a few players on its roster familiar with Scottsdale CC, where they’ve been practicing for the bowl game.
Antonio Smothers, a reserve linebacker, played there in 2012 and 2013.
Gurrola, a center, played for Glendale CC in 2011 and 2012, where he was an NJCAA All-American, and played a road game at the Scottsdale digs in 2011.
We’re fans of the Scottsdale CC team name — the Fighting Artichokes.
Their mascot? Artie the Artichoke.
Festive Fiesta feeling
In the early minutes of practice, the song “Handsome and Wealthy” by Migos played on Arizona’s loud speakers.
Feeling festive, back-up quarterback Jesse Scroggins danced along to the tune.
It was very Rondae Hollis-Jefferson-esque.
Don’t I know you
There’s a decent chance Boise State players might bump into a familiar face sometime this week.
Their old head coach, Chris Peterson, and some of his assistants are now in the same position at Washington. The Huskies are in town this week for Friday’s Cactus Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe against Oklahoma State.
It may or may not get awkward — Peterson hasn’t spoken to a lot of his players since he left the Broncos for the Huskies before last year’s Hawaii Bowl.
“If I see them, I’ll say hi, wish them good luck,” Vallejo said. “I haven’t talked to any of them since the Hawaii Bowl, but I’m just trying to focus on our team and what we can do.”
Also in town for the Cactus Bowl are Oklahoma State quarterback Daxx Garman and long snapper Josh Elias. Both were at the UA in 2011 before transferring.