We conducted our Saturday OU interviews at the Saints’ headquarters in suburban Metairie, where the Sooners are training during Sugar Bowl week.
The Saints and NBA Pelicans share the training ground. Both franchises are owned by Tom Benson. The Pelicans’ training facility and the Saints’ are separated by a cafeteria. I’ve been to the Saints’ headquarters — interviewed Gary Gibbs there a few years ago, when he was defensive coordinator — but this was my first trip back.
It rained all day Saturday — I’m ready for some decent bowl weather; it was cold in Dallas last year for OU and OSU, and it was cold in Phoenix for the UConn Fiesta Bowl — so the Sooners worked out in the Saints’ indoor facility.
The Sugar Bowl took the media out there in a bus. Interstate 10 was backed up — no one could quite explain why there was a traffic jam on Saturday afternoon — so we got off and took boulevards out to Metairie. Which gave me a chance to see some of Greater New Orleans.
And it’s sort of normal. Downtown, in the warehouse district or the French Quarter or even the Garden District, there’s no wondering where you are. You’re in New Orleans. But outside the city, you could be in Dallas or Houston or most anywhere.
We passed a high school baseball field — Jesuit High School — that looked minor league caliber. Saw a cemetery with underground plots. There’s even a Sonic across the street from the facility. You’ve got to love it.
While I was working, the Dish took one of those bus tours that stiffed her on Friday. It was a good day to be in a bus, since it rained all day. She enjoyed it, though the windows fogged up because the heat had to be on.
She saw the Garden District — tourists are taken by Drew Brees’ house, Sandra Bullock’s house and Archie Manning’s house — and the Ninth Ward, where the Hurricane Katrina damage remains prevalent. It’s really a good plan; take a tour of a new city, so you get an idea of where you want to go back and investigate.
After the Dish returned and I finished work, we headed out with our man Jason Kersey for dinner. We wanted to go to Mulate’s, which is just down the street and bills itself as the original Cajun restaurant. Really cool looking place right across the street from the New Orleans Convention Center and the port where the cruiseship Norwegian Jewel is docked.
Alas, the wait was 90 minutes when we called, and two hours when we stopped by. So we walked down the street and found another place for dinner. The Grand Isle, which I would describe as a seafood brew pub. It was good. Not great, but good. JK had a seafood platter; the Dish and I had mahi-mahi. It was good. And best of all, only a minimal wait.
It was a perfect storm for crowds. Saturday night. Before a Saints game. Tons of people in town to get on the cruiseship. Some early Sugar Bowl arrivals. Plus the normal gambling crowd, ready to jump into Harrah’s casino. We’ll get to Mulate’s later in the week.
Then it was back to the hotel to watch the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and Kansas State form some Big 12 pride. One thing about bowl trips. You sit in your hotel room doing a ton of work, but there’s always a football game for background noise.