There will be no waking up early, running downstairs and finding out what’s under the Christmas tree for the Oregon State football players this morning.
Most of them will be away from their families today and the rest of the week as the Beavers are in San Antonio to prepare for Saturday’s Alamo Bowl against Texas.
Bowl week spreads over the holiday, but that’s part of being associated with a major college football program when it’s doing well.
“As you get older there are times you are going to be away from your family, and it’s the life we live,” senior cornerback Jordan Poyer said. “None of these guys would rather be anywhere but with their teammates right now. Then after the game they can be with their family.”
A common saying among coaches and players is how they hate to be home for Christmas. That means they didn’t earn a bowl game invitation, or played in a lower bowl game.
“It’s a chance to be somewhere else at Christmas time. Being in a different area is fun for me and so is being able to see the sights,” offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said. “We would like to do that every year. And I think it’s a lot of fun. You want to spend time with your family, but we can do that on the 31st for New Year’s.”
However, for young players it’s something to become accustomed to in the schedule.
Since OSU’s last bowl game was in 2009 for the pre-Christmas Las Vegas Bowl, this is new for nearly every player.
“This is my first time I’m away from my family around Christmas, but this is a business trip,” receiver Brandin Cooks said. “You have to take care of it.”
To help keep the players away from the holiday blues, director of operations Dan Van De Riet planned ways to celebrate Christmas on the road.
After Monday morning’s practice and an afternoon weight lifting session, there was a team dinner at the team hotel, the Hyatt Riverwalk on Christmas Eve.
Carolers and a mariachi band were brought in for entertainment. Even Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus were to be around to pass out gifts.
Van De Riet had the crown jewel of the Alamo Bowl player gifts wrapped for Santa to hand out — a Fossil watch.
The Beavers are back to practice in the morning today and lifting weights in the afternoon.
Some of the players’ families traveled to San Antonio to spend time with them. They’ll have their own time together today.
Christmas dinner for everyone is scheduled to be on the Riverwalk at Cafe Ole. Van De Riet rented the restaurant for the team.
“We have a nice Christmas Eve and Christmas Day deal going,” coach Mike Riley said. “It’s hard and a little unusual being away for Christmas. Both of those days, we’ll make it as special as we can even though they are not at home.”
The holidays will behind the Beavers come Wednesday and then it’s full speed ahead in game preparation and bowl activities.
“It’s a great time for the team,” Riley said. “There’s an added excitement for the bowl. It’s just a fun time to get away. You have these activities and the bowl to get ready for.”