SHREVEPORT, La. - The University of Alabama football team arrived in Shreveport, La. on Sunday for the 2006 Petro Sun Independence Bowl which will be played Thursday at 3:30 p.m. (CT).
The Tide and the Oklahoma State Cowboys kicked off the week's festivities with a welcome reception at the Riverview Hall. The main event of the welcome party was a cook-off between the two squads. Each team had a coach and two players from the offense, defense and special teams units compete in the cook-off. Each group of three had one hour to make a steak dish and a shrimp dish with one of the two including a special ingredient, Alligator, which was designated by the Independence Bowl.
The Alabama defense was represented by defensive line coach David Turner, and seniors Chris Harris and Juwan Simpson. The team won the shrimp competition, cooking a shrimp and alligator alfredo. They also placed third in the steak competition.
"I have had a little practice," said Harris, a defensive end. "I cook shrimp dinners all the time. It is something I love to do and shrimp is one of my favorite dishes to cook. I kind of knew what I was doing and felt like we had the advantage."
"Chris did a good job with the shrimp," said Simpson, a linebacker. "I got on the steak and Coach Turner cooked the steak. It was an all-around good meal. We were confident that we were going to put together a good dish and we worked together as a team and came out on top."
The UA offensive group consisted of offensive line coach Bob Connelly, sophomore Antoine Caldwell and freshman All-American Andre Smith. They placed third in the shrimp competition. The Tide special teams representatives were special teams coordinator Dave Ungerer and sophomores Travis McCall and Nick Walker.
Alabama will practice for the first time in Shreveport tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. The team will have Christmas dinner tomorrow night in the hotel. They will also practice Tuesday and Wednesday in preparation for Thursday's game which will be televised by ESPN.