*Written by student assistant Kim Barrett
On Monday, Jamie Speroni, associate athletic director of football operations, joined Derek Scott on 107.5 The Game for the weekly edition of "Inside the Roost." Speronis discussed the football team's preparations for the Outback Bowl and how he coordinates the plans for the team traveling to Tampa.
The first step in preparing for the game was Coach Spurrier and Speronis traveling to Tampa last week to sign the contract for the game. The two are familiar with the preparations that go into planning the Outback Bowl after the Gamecocks played in the bowl against Iowa in 2009. When asked if it helps having prepared for the bowl game before, Speronis stated "Absolute'y it does. It's a lot easier."
To be successful in the bowl game, football personnel must pack up everything in Columbia and move their operations to Tampa for about a week. When asked who has the toughest job in this process, Speronis shared, "[Director of Equipment] Chris Matlock must pack up the equipment, computers, medical supplies and strength and conditioning equipment, and move it down there. I believe he has the thankless job of it."
Playing in the Outback Bowl provides a unique opportunity for the players and coaches, as they will get to experience playing in an NFL facility. Speronis believes the players are lucky to play in such an exciting facility, stating "Anytime you are in a National Football League facility its exciting. It's just a real special feel to play where the NFL does."
The Gamecocks will travel to Tampa on Dec. 26 and will resume practice there on the 27th. Despite leaving so close to Christmas, players and coaches will break for the holidays on the 22nd. Speronis shared that players from Florida are allowed to go home and meet the team in Tampa, rather than traveling back to Columbia first.
When in Tampa the team will practice at Jefferson High School, the same place they practiced at in 2009. Speronis shared with 107.5 that the bowl committee has a collection of sites that they allow the universities to choose from.
Being student-athletes, the players are currently consumed with finals and looking forward to going home for the holidays, but Speronis was quick to note "If anyone has question that we will be tuned in and focused they should eliminate that." The team will resume practice this Friday and will have some two-a-days between now and breaking for Christmas.
When not concerned with the stress of the game, the team will get the chance to relax and enjoy the beautiful city of Tampa. Having lived in Tampa before, Speronis is excited for the players to enjoy the perks of playing in a bowl game in a great location. Speronis shared, "Its a great location and a new property. These guys will be spoiled rotten by those people."
Despite the hype and distractions of playing in a bowl game, the Gamecocks must stay focused on their goals. As Speronis noted, "At the end of the day its a business trip, and our goal is to get to 11 wins."