SAN FRANCISCO - Heavy rains in the Bay Area have slowed Navy's final preparations for the Emerald Bowl game against New Mexico Thursday.
The Midshipmen were forced to move indoors yesterday after the field turf at City College of San Francisco became water-logged, practicing in the spacious ballroom at their downtown hotel.
"It's a nice facility," coach Paul Johnson said of the ballroom. "I'm thinking of taking a picture of this and showing our recruits our indoor practice area."
Despite the quip, the site severely restricts how much can be accomplished.
"Certainly, it's not as good," Johnson said. "You can't go full speed in here and you can't kick or throw [because of the low ceilings]. But the field out there [about 10 miles south of the city] was under water. It's just something you have to deal with. We also struggled to get in full practices at home before Christmas."
New Mexico is encountering the identical problem at Laney College in Oakland on the other side of the bay.
"Both teams have the same thing," said Johnson, who labeled the team "very rusty" following their first workout shortly after arrival here Sunday evening. "So, there's not any advantage."
The weather was an unfortunate development because the City College facility is a good one.
It is the home of a junior-college team that has won seven national titles, the latest in 2003.
Two of City College's stars are headed for the University of California, and some other team members are going to such Division I programs as Kansas State, Mississippi State and Kentucky.
The school has produced a passel of players who went on to the NFL, the most notable of whom was O.J. Simpson.
Johnson is familiar with the City program and its head coach, George Rush, because he recruited the Bay Area while an assistant at Hawaii.
Five players were absent from the first practice because of flight problems, but all attended yesterday's session except long snapper Andrew Bazzle. "He's the last guy you'd think of who'd be missing because he lives in the Charleston, S.C., area," said Johnson, who was expecting Bazzle later in the day. ... Navy will be the home team for the game and wear dark jerseys. ... The Emerald Bowl secured a two-year tie-in with the Pac-10 Conference this season, but the league did not qualify enough teams to send a representative.
Next for Navy
Matchup: Navy (9-2) vs. New Mexico (7-4) in Emerald Bowl
Site: SBC Park, San Francisco
When: Thursday, 4:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: ESPN2/WJFK (1300 AM), WNAV (1430 AM)
Line: New Mexico by 2 1/2