Tuesday, 2:45 p.m.
The New Orleans Marriott is already prepared for the arrival of UL's football team this time around.
Last year, the banners and decals that covered the Marriott lobby were still going up early in the morning of the team's Tuesday arrival for the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. This time, since most of them are repeats and were probably stored somewhere, the welcoming banners were up in plenty of time.
The New Orleans Bowl signs that hung from utility poles and street lights around the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, up and down Poydras Street and at key locations on Canal Street gave the first indication that it's bowl week for the Ragin' Cajuns.
Then, walking into the Marriott lobby at 555 Canal Street — their home for the next five days — and being greeted with the large red signs brought home the concept that the Cajuns are playing in a second bowl game in as many years. It doesn't take much to remember that, prior to last year, there was a 41-year gap during which time UL didn't play in any postseason football game of any type.
Will this trip, one to the same location right down to the headquarters hotel, be old-hat to the Cajun team and staff? Probably not, but that will start becoming apparent in less than an hour when the squad wraps up its two-hour bus trip and pulls up at the Marriott at approximately 3:20 p.m.
The team was greeted by a small band of supporters when it left the UL athletic complex at approximately 1:20 p.m., and another band — this one a traditional New Orleans brass band — is already on hand in the lobby to welcome them.
As for the fans, most will start pouring into the Crescent City beginning late Wednesday and will be in force for Thursday and Friday's activities. A full list of those activities is available here on theind.com.
Time to go and meet the team downstairs. I'll have another post with photos on the team's arrival later this afternoon.