Bulldogs Adjusting To Left Coast

Bulldogs Adjusting To Left Coast

Game Airs on WELI (960-AM)


SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Flying six hours on a Thursday is not the typical travel plan for the Yale football team, unless it's playing a special non-league game in California. The Bulldogs (2-0, 1-0 Ivy) are trying to prepare for tomorrow's game against No. 18 ranked Cal Poly (2-2) at Alex Spanos Stadium the same way they do for the other nine contests of 2013.

That's not an easy thing to do when the Elis are adjusting to the time and climate change, not to mention facing a nationally ranked FCS squad that has already tested a pair of FBS schools. This makes for a very interesting matchup for Saturday's 5 p.m. EDT kickoff that can be heard on WELI (AM-960) as well as 960weli.com.

The Yale coaching staff wants to stay within its routine, but Tony Reno, the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football, realizes you can't go on a unique excursion like this and not embrace the special opportunities.

One of those opportunities was having dinner at the home of Peter and Mary Beth Oppenheimer, whose son, John, is a senior center for the Bulldogs. The Oppenheimers orchestrated an enormous great western barbecue with ribs, steak, salad and more in a truly spectacular California setting.

After picking up the team at the airport a few hundred feet from the plane, three giant coach busses wound their way through the mountains to the long driveway at the Oppenheimer home. Mary Beth was waiting at the bottom of the driveway with a bucket of flashlights to help everyone navigate the path to the house. At the top of the driveway sat a luxury portable bathroom with doors labeled "Offense (men)" and "Defense (women)."

The smoke rising in the background was a welcoming smell for a hungry group of football players, and the company providing the barbecue made it even more inviting with the presentation. Sitting around an elegant swimming pool with an outdoor fireplace providing warmth from the evening desert winds were the finishing touches on a perfect night.   

"It was awesome," said Beau Palin, Yale captain, reflecting on last night's dinner. "The Oppenheimers were so gracious in sharing their house with us. Just shows you the great family atmosphere of this program. And the food was awesome."

The Bulldogs, welcomed at the Oppenheimer house last night by family friend, Cal Poly President Jeff Armstrong, headed to the stadium for today's 1 p.m. practice. The team was very impressed with the facilities and clearly enjoyed the weather, which may be a little hotter Saturday than what the Elis felt today.

"The heat is something we have to consider," said Reno. "We've done a great job with a pre-hydration plan and the medical staff is doing a great job implementing it."


Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director