After Orange Bowl, Miami awaits BCS title game
In between the Orange Bowl and the BCS national championship game, there's a daunting task that awaits the people who actually host those two contests.
That is, a massive redecoration of several venues - with just a few hours to pull it off in some cases.
Florida State and Northern Illinois are scheduled to head home from the Orange Bowl on Wednesday morning, not long before Notre Dame and Alabama arrive that afternoon to begin final preparations for Monday night's BCS title tilt.
And by the time the Fighting Irish and the Crimson Tide land, much of what promoted the Orange Bowl will be gone.
Sections of the turf at Sun Life Stadium were to be removed within a few hours after the Orange Bowl for new sod - much of which will either have Notre Dame, Alabama or BCS logos painted on it in the coming days.
The quickest work will likely come at the team hotels. Notre Dame and Alabama - not to mention large portions of each team's fan base - will check into the same hotels on Wednesday that the Seminoles and Huskies will have checked out of earlier in the day. Florida State and Northern Illinois colors and logos will be torn down, but none of that will begin until those teams actually depart.
In short, Florida State and Northern Illinois won't be made to feel like the warm-up act for this two-week Miami college football extravaganza.
''We want to make sure Florida State and Northern Illinois feel like they're the only game in town,'' Orange Bowl Committee spokesman Larry Wahl said. ''We want them to have first-class championship treatment.''
CAREY'S DEBUT: Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was asked in recent days about how he thinks Northern Illinois' Rod Carey has handled the transition from assistant coach to head coach over the past couple weeks.
Fisher's answer: It really hasn't happened yet.
''I think it's going to be tougher next year than it is right now,'' Fisher said.
He might be right.
Carey has put his own certain twist on things since taking over for Dave Doeren - now at North Carolina State - on Dec. 2, the same day that the Huskies got their Orange Bowl invitation. Most of Carey's college experience has been as an offensive line coach.
But the formula that Doeren used really isn't changing much now that Carey is in charge, even with his head-coaching debut coming in a Bowl Championship Series game.
''Next year I think will be even more of a transition because they have to reinvent those roles and tell everybody what they're doing and it's a different group,'' Fisher said. ''But it is a lot to put on him. I think he's done a great job in meeting him the few times I have I've been very impressed. I think he's a great guy, and developing a good friendship. I really enjoy being around him.''
Carey has shown quite a sense of humor about his new role, particularly all the added media responsibilities, including those that have required him to show up for various things in jacket and tie.
''I'm more comfortable with a whistle around my neck and coaching than I am with a (microphone) in front of me in a suit, I can tell you that,'' Carey said. ''My wife likes it when I dress up in a suit. I hate it.''
And Evans and Connors both play for ... Northern Illinois.
There's actually quite a few ties that bind the Northern Illinois and Florida State rosters, with 13 players in the game (six Huskies, seven Seminoles) having been high school teammates in either Florida or Alabama.
The Huskies also have seven players who count either relatives or close friends as having studied at Florida State - including cornerback Jhony Faustin, the cousin of Seminoles' defensive tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample.
RUNNING `NOLES: One of the reasons why Florida State returned to the Bowl Championship Series for the first time in seven seasons was a huge improvement in the Seminoles' running game.
While Florida State's passing numbers didn't change much between 2011 and this season that ended with the 31-10 win over Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl on Tuesday night, the rushing totals were night and day.
A year ago, Florida State rushed for 1,458 yards, 3.3 yards per carry and 20 touchdowns - all season.
The final numbers from this season: 2,882 yards, 5.6 yards per carry and 40 touchdowns.
CHANGING SCENES: Early last month, Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey feigned concern about how his team would handle South Florida's nightlife during Orange Bowl week.
There was no cause for alarm.
The Huskies left what had been their Miami Beach hotel and stayed elsewhere on Monday night, a move Carey planned long ago to avoid distractions - which, had they stayed in the same place, would have included a poolside New Year's eve concert by rapper Drake that blared long past 1 a.m. and raised the ire of some Northern Illinois fans.
Even some Super Bowl coaches have made similar change-hotels-before-the-big-game moves in recent years, but Carey insisted his club impressed him with how it handled temptations.
''You know, you come down to South Beach with a bunch of 18- to 22-year-olds - we were all 18 to 22 at one point, can remember what that was like,'' Carey said. ''We haven't had one single incident with bad decision making. I give them all the credit for that.''
Curfew wasn't even a problem for Northern Illinois, with most players routinely getting back to the hotel 30 to 60 minutes early.
''We had fun for the first couple of days, but then it was back to business,'' Huskies wide receiver Martel Moore said.