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BYU football: Cougars, and their families, arrive in San Francisco for bowl game

SAN FRANCISCO — Now that final exams are over, BYU linebacker Alani Fua has more than just the Fight Hunger Bowl on his mind.

Fua arrived here Sunday along with his Cougar teammates and coaches. Joining Fua was his wife, Malaysia, and his two young sons.

While the Fight Hunger Bowl against Washington isn’t until Friday, one of his concerns is helping his family enjoy a fun, memorable Christmas away from home.

“I’m trying to talk to my family and figure things out,” Fua said. “My grandma lives in Sacramento. That’s where we usually spend Christmas. But it sounds like we’re not able to sleep anywhere (else) or do anything. We’re still trying to figure everything out. It might be Christmas at the hotel.”

Unlike the vast majority of college football teams, many players at BYU are married, which presents an interesting dynamic during bowl week, with family responsibilities on the road.

While there will be plenty of activities to keep the team busy this week, there will also be time for players and coaches to be with their families.

The team is headquartered at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in downtown San Francisco. The Cougars will hold bowl practices at Laney College, located in downtown Oakland, 12 miles from the team hotel.

As for BYU's schedule this week, coach Bronco Mendenhall and a few players will participate in the Fight Hunger Bowl press conference Monday afternoon at the Field Club Lounge at AT&T Park. That will be followed by a team visit to Alcatraz.

On Wednesday, Christmas Day, BYU is scheduled to visit St. Anthony’s Dining Room. The team will hold a practice and engage in service projects that day.

On Thursday, a Fight Hunger Bowl pep rally will be held at Union Square in San Francisco, which will be followed by a kickoff luncheon at the Westin St. Francis Hotel. That night, the Cougars will hold their traditional pregame fireside in Oakland.

BYU and Washington play Friday (7:30 p.m. MST, ESPN).

POST-CHRISTMAS BOWLS: For five straight years, from 2005-09, the Cougars played in the Las Vegas Bowl, which is held before Christmas. Last year’s Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego was also held prior to Christmas.

Does Mendenhall prefer a pre-Christmas bowl or post-Christmas bowl?

“They both have advantages. It’s fun to have the game done before Christmas, so you can have Christmas with your families,” he said. “However, that means that you take finals before anyone else takes finals, with less preparation and it’s affected our players’ grade point averages on a pretty clear level for that semester. This (post-Christmas bowl) is nice because there’s more time. We gave them as long as we could (for their school work), giving them through Wednesday to get through finals, though there is some crossover. I think it’s better academically and then we’ll make the most of the holiday season, and Christmastime, in a pretty unique setting. We’ll have to manage that as best we can.”