The Norman Transcript

December 31, 2013

Sooners take in sights of New Orleans before battling in Sugar Bowl

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NEW ORLEANS — It’s been 10 years since Oklahoma last rang in the new year in the Crescent City and a decade since its players had to deal with the enticements that come with spending a week in one the world’s most infamous party towns.

The Sugar Bowl, which will be played for the 80th time Thursday night when the Sooners face Alabama, has a storied history of players being arrested or suspended due to unwise behavior during their stays.

The Sooners didn’t have to wait to get the lecture about the issues that can crop up due to bad decisions.

Members of the New Orleans police department and the Sugar Bowl hosting committee met with them the day of their arrival Thursday to talk about issues that have happened with other teams and tourists over the years.

No topic was taboo because anything and everything has happened. Everything from watching out for pickpockets to avoiding transgender prostitutes was discussed.

“It was a great speech from the Sugar Bowl people. It was fantastic,” OU center Gabe Ikard laughed.

Sooner coach Bob Stoops hasn’t tried to tuck his players away since arriving in town.

“These young guys could find trouble if they wanted to just about anywhere. Oklahoma City is a big town right up the road from us and we’ve seemed to manage that,” he said. “I trust their character, not just this year — we haven’t been a team that has had a lot of trouble, so in the end, I trust them like I always do.”

The team’s hotel is in the French Quarter. They had a 2 a.m. curfew the first couple of nights. It was moved up this week, but the point was bowl trips are supposed to be fun and the city’s night life is a massive part of the Sugar Bowl experience.

Just about all the players have ventured out to Bourbon Street at least once.

“It’s crazy,” offensive lineman Daryl Williams said. “I think it’s a lot of energy and it’s a lot of fun. I’ve never seen (anything) like it.”

“Bourbon Street is incredible,” defensive lineman Geneo Grissom said. “Just all the different businesses, all the different places, all the different people. You see lots of different people on Bourbon Street. It's been a lot of fun.”

That’s the whole point of these bowl games. Get these teams — and their legions of fans — to come out and take in all that New Orleans has to offer.

However, there are limits. With two nights to go until the Sugar Bowl, the Sooners seem to fully understand where they are.

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