NEW ORLEANS, LA - By the time the paint finally dries in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, it will be less than 24 hours from the 16th New Orleans Bowl.
At Friday's luncheon we learned that when Louisiana-Lafayette head coach Mark Hudspeth was a defensive back for Delta State, his team ran into Southern Miss in 1990 and '91.
"The game that I played defensive back against Southern Miss, Brett Favre missed the game because of an injury he had in a car accident that previous week," Hudspeth said. "Not wishing the accident on him, but sure made me look a lot better since he didn't play in the game."
The Golden Eagles won both those contests in the early '90s but the player who won over the crowd on Friday was USM sophomore wide receiver Chase Whitehead who unleashed his best impression of head coach Jay Hopson.
"The reality of it is men," said Whitehead in his best Mississippi accent. "At the end of the day we're not going to remember going out there, having fun, doing all this. What we're going to remember is that plaque that says New Orleans Bowl Champions. You can't wish it and you can't hope it."
"That was a ten out of ten," said Southern Miss senior center Cameron Tom of Whitehead's performance. "That's exactly Coach Hop for you."
The roomful of Golden Eagles and Ragin' Cajuns also had the privelege of hearing from the New Orleans Bowl keynote speaker: former Saints safety and ALS fighter Steve Gleason.
"If your priorities are in line, the sport of football and tomorrow's game will pale in comparison with what you do with the rest of your life," Gleason said.
"Going through adversity and encouraging your teammates," Tom said. "That's going to definitely help moving on after football, those lessons that we've learned. It was definitely inspiring to hear from [Gleason]."
In what's been an eventful week in New Orleans, Southern Miss is ready for the main event. The Golden Eagles are ready to lace up on Saturday at 8 p.m. and snap the ball.
"Two or three weeks since we played Louisiana Tech," said Southern Miss junior running back Ito Smith. "Just trying to finish out the season on a good note, get the [win]."
"It's pretty exciting to finally get back to football," Tom said. "The week's been good. It's been fun and it's going to all come together in one football game, one last football game."