No New Year’s partying in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS — Ringing in New Year’s Eve in New Orleans has a nice ring to it. Sounds like a blast, right?

Not for Florida Gators’ football players, who are in town for Wednesday’s Sugar Bowl showdown against Louisville. They’ll be on lockdown at the Hilton, the team hotel, as the rest of the folks and fans in town likely will find their way to the sure-to-be-festive French Quarter to ring in the New Year, Bourbon-Street style.

This is a business trip for the team, something players have tweeted about all week long.

Florida fullback Hunter Joyer didn’t even realize it was New Year’s Eve, or even what day of the week it was for that matter.

“I can’t even tell you what day it is, really, ” Joyer said Monday. “What day is it? I don’t know.”

Joyer plans to spend New Year’s Eve the same way he has spent the previous five nights by simply taking it easy in “The Big Easy.

“I’m usually just in my room — I’m not a big party guy,” Joyer said. “I’m just going to be in my room and hanging out with my roommates playing video games — that’s pretty much it.

“Save our energy for the game.”

Gators coach Will Muschamp said players have been “mature” and on time for all team activities. He also said no players have missed curfew this week while sliding in a dig at the reporter asking the question.

“Did you make curfew this week?” he said, flashing a mischievous smile.

Florida senior kicker Caleb Sturgis said they did have one wild and crazy night.

Well, sort of.

“We ate at the sports bar next by the hotel (Sunday),” Sturgis said. “For the most part, that’s pretty much it.

“This is one of the best bowl games there is, so we’re just excited to be here — for the game.”

Note that last part of Sturgis’ statement. Players aren’t here to party on Bourbon Street. They’re here to win.

“(Winning) would be huge,” Sturgis said. “We have a chance to go 12-1 and that’s real equal to the best seasons I’ve experience here. I think this one is real special for me, real special for the seniors. It’ll be awesome.”

Players obviously are genuine about simply being here to win a game instead of getting distracted by any nightlife activities.  There haven’t been any reports from anyone saying they saw this player at that nightclub or that player at this casino.

Instead, there are harmless tweets such as this one from true freshman defensive end Jonathan Bullard, via his @jbullard90 account: “Chillin with my mom in New Orleans !!”

Punter Kyle Christy doesn’t mind having to stay in at the hotel on New Year’s Eve. There’s plenty of entertainment set up for players there anyway.

“We’re not really worried about that,” Christy said. “We have a hospitality room that’s got a PS3, a pool table and all that kind of stuff, so we’re good.

“We’re just going to hang out at the hotel and just get ready to play,”

After all, that’s why they’re here. To play a football game, not slot machines.

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Mike Capshaw brings a wealth of experience to the Gator Country team. He’s been overseeing all editorial aspects of and Gator Country magazine by managing our team of staffers, interns and freelancers. He is now moving into a bigger role as a reporter by covering the football and basketball beats as well as providing coverage of all sports on campus. Mike’s 15 years in the business has included more than six years of covering SEC sports and recruiting at a daily newspaper in Arkansas. He has also helped launch a newspaper, magazines, websites and even a sports talk radio show. Because Mike puts family ahead of his career, he left the place where he was established when his wife received an opportunity to further her career at UF. He took a leap of faith that he could find a job in the Gainesville area and worked for a year at a newspaper group before joining the Gator Country family in November, 2011. Mike has won Florida Press Association awards for Best Sports Game Story and Best Sports Feature Story in the past two years as well as a company-wide award at his former newspaper group that includes some 60 publications, for Excellence in Sports Reporting. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeCapshawGC.