Dec. 26, 2013
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By DARREN MILLER
TAMPA, Fla. — Players on the University of Iowa football team got their feet wet with two days of practice, and on Thursday evening they filled their bellies.
Iowa and its Outback Bowl opponent Louisiana State University joined forks and knives at an all-you-can-eat Outback Steakhouse Team Welcome Dinner at A La Carte Event Pavilion. The teams devoured more than 5,000 pounds of food, including 750 pounds of sirloin steak topped with 40 gallons of Diablo sauce, 750 pounds of chicken, and 900 pounds of ribs, all cooked over a wood fire grill.
They also consumed 700 pounds of house salad, 400 pounds of baked potatoes topped with butter and sour cream, 1,600 coconut shrimp, 160 bloomin’ onions, 1,600 honey wheat dinner rolls, 1,200 pounds of cheese cake, 80 gallons of barbecue sauce, and dozens of cases of soda and water.
“It’s a nice way to kick the official festivities off; the treatment down here has always been spectacular and I’m sure this week will be the same,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said.
“We do a good job of keeping their weights in check, but tonight is a night to treat themselves a little bit. It’s part of the bowl spirit as well; we want them to work when it’s time to work, but we also want them enjoy things, and this is one more event that is enjoyable to them.”
UI football coach
Hawkeye senior offensive lineman Brett Van Sloten said the Hawkeyes put a dent into what he referred to as “typical stuff that O-linemen love eating.”
The discipline learned through participating in sports like football was put to the test with plates of steak coming on one side and chicken on the other.
“We do a good job of keeping their weights in check, but tonight is a night to treat themselves a little bit,” Ferentz said. “It’s part of the bowl spirit as well; we want them to work when it’s time to work, but we also want them enjoy things, and this is one more event that is enjoyable to them.”
It was not a function for vegetarians or finicky eaters.
“Not too many people are watching what they eat,” UI linebacker Christian Kirksey said.
They also didn’t appear to be doing much opponent-watching. The welcome dinner was the first time players and coaches from both teams were together in the same room.
“They look athletic. You can see that when they walked in today,” Van Sloten said of the Tigers.
“You get that game feeling when you see your opponent walk through the door,” Kirksey added.
The Hawkeyes will not practice Friday, instead the teams will spend time at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay for a day of coasters and animal encounters.
“We’ll give the guys a chance to regroup and hopefully have a good game week,” Ferentz said.