Checking in from the Strip



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Settling in here at the Venetian, home of the Pac-10's UCLA Bruins... and the media!

As such, Bruins players, coaches and support staff began trickling in this afternoon and evening. There was no group arrival for the football team. The players and coaches were essentially on their own--merely told to report to the Venetian for a team meeting tonight at 8:00pm. How they got here was basically up to them.

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Contrast UCLA's casual team arrival with that of BYU. As always, Director of Football Operations Duane Busby had the football team provided with a well planned-out itinerary and schedule of events for the week--starting with two charter flights from Provo this afternoon and evening.

The BYU travel party includes 112 players, 30 player spouses, 6 players' children, and the coaching staff with entire families in tow.

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I ran into Ben Olson earler this evening, and it was nice to know he hadn't forgotten the play-by-play guy who actually never got to call his name in a game (at least not while he was in a BYU uniform).

Ben served his LDS mission in my hometown of Calgary, Alberta, and he recalled that connection as we talked for about a half hour on the casino floor (me in my BYU Football shirt, and the strapping Mormon QB, chatting it up between poker tables and slot machines--you won't see that photo in anyone's media guide).

Since our conversation was just a personal chat, and not an "interview," I'll just say that it was genuinely nice to catch up with a guy who continues to hold BYU and its players in high regard.

Ben noted he gets a lot of attention in L.A. for his church membership, his missionary service, and his status as the lone married player on the UCLA roster, and he believes he followed his heart in leaving Provo for Westwood--he told told me his mission taught him to trust inspiration, and I got the sense he doesn't spend a lot of time wondering "what might have been."

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Did you know?: when Ben Olson went on his recruiting trip to Arizona State, his host was... Max Hall.

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Ben says he only knows a handful of current Cougars who hold over from his time at BYU: Bryan Kehl, David Nixon, Corby Hodgkiss, Fui Vakapuna and Kellen Fowler were the first who came to mind.

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The Cougars have a 7:45am wake-up call Wednesday, taping at 8:00, meetings starting at 9:10, practice at 11:00. A welcome reception (ESPNZone) and show (KA, at the MGM Grand)are planned for the evening. Wednesday and Thursday curfews are 12:30am.

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