Not earning a bowl-game appearance this year means the BYU football team won’t be participating in bowl-week events like last year’s trip to the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld.
Given the fact that the final Cougar contest takes place in Hawaii, however, it might be easy to assume BYU will take extra time to savor the experience.
Cougar head coach Kalani Sitake said Monday that his team isn’t going to get any more breaks than they would any other week.
“The focus will be on getting this win and sending the seniors out on a win,” he said. “This is a regular game. It’s not a bowl game where there is a lot of time to have a lot of entertainment. We’ll try to make the best of it while we are there.”
Sitake said BYU is leaving on Wednesday, which is a day earlier than it usually leaves for a trip covering at least two time zones.
“Looking at our history in Hawaii, when we’ve been successful and when we’ve struggled,” Sitake said. “A lot of the times when we’ve done well has been when we have arrived on Wednesday.”
He said everything is scheduled to minimize the idle time, but guys will have some breaks.
“We are in Hawaii, so you let them have some time where they can enjoy the beach a little bit — but that is because we are there all day,” Sitake said. “The guys who are playing Call of Duty would be playing Call of Duty when they had a couple of hours here at home. The difference is that we will be there.”
He wants his players to get settled, have a little bit of a holiday on Thanksgiving and then move forward with working to win the game.
BYU junior defensive lineman Corbin Kaufusi said having this be the last game of the year and the last one ever for the seniors makes this game different — but not in a casual way.
“I know people want to believe that we should treat this as a bowl game, relax and have fun — but it’s quite opposite,” Kaufusi said. “This is a legitimate thing. It’s one that will help us decide how we change the offseason.”
He believes the mentality right now for the guys who will be coming back is that there is a lot to do.
“It’s the end of the season but you know there is so much to do,” Kaufusi said. “Everyone has that feeling. Our team is close but a big part of it is making sure that translates into our product on the field. There are things we need to look at as a team and be hard critics on ourselves.”
When it gets to that point, Sitake said he will be ready. Right now, however, he is looking at just getting prepared for Hawaii.
“I know what we need,” Sitake said. “Every year you look and evaluate everything. During the season, you want to make changes and improve but at the end of the season — regardless of what the record was — you are always evaluating it and seeing areas you can improve on. It’s hard to make a statement that will cover long-term and short-term improvements but that will be my job after this week. Right now the focus is to get this win.”