Until the Southern University marching band wowed the University Stadium crowd at halftime Saturday afternoon, it didn’t look like the Jaguars showed up at all.
They almost didn’t.
A week of Hurricane Isaac worries and a string of travel mishaps led to 13 members of the Football Championship Subdivision program from Baton Rouge, La., not arriving in Albuquerque until 11 a.m. Saturday, four hours before kickoff. That, according to athletic director Will Broussard, was just part of the problem.
“Not playing this game for us was never an option,” Broussard said when asked whether canceling Saturday’s game was ever considered. “Even with everything that happened this week (with Isaac), we could not survive as a program financially without playing this game so canceling was never an option. It was a regrettable situation overall.”
The Jaguars received a $350,000 check from UNM to play Saturday. For the Jaguars, who have just 55 scholarship players compared with 74 for UNM, there’s no shot at meeting annual budget projections without the money.
In addition to Isaac concerns, including an electric generator blowing up at the home of the team doctor, the team did not have a full-contact practice since 7 a.m. Tuesday. The Jaguars canceled practice Wednesday, and worked out in a basketball gym in shorts and tennis shoes Thursday.
The team scheduled three commercial flights Friday morning, the third of which was canceled. That flight included 13 players and seven staff members. Six staff members flew in late Friday, while the 13 players and a video coordinator flew in Saturday.
The players who arrived Friday did a pregame walk-through practice in street clothes because the rental truck carrying the team’s equipment from Baton Rouge broke down “a half hour east of Albuquerque somewhere on I-40,” Broussard said.
“I know it was a tough week for Southern,” UNM head coach Bob Davie said.
— This article appeared on page D2 of the Albuquerque Journal