The most wonderful time of the year?

By By Tony Pizza

By Tony Pizza

Ah, Finals Week-the time of year when students finally get to see that guy or girl they have eagerly been waiting to get to know since the syllabi were passed out, but wasn’t seen in class since.

It’s also the time that Outtakes foods doubles its yearly profits with an influx of coffee sales alone, and the rest of the student body walks around like extras from the set of “Night of the Living Dead.”

Think Finals Week is stressful?

Try cramming in Pythagorean’s theorem while committing the offensive formations of Tulsa to memory, or how about stuffing your brain with Milton and memorizing which defensive formations the Golden Hurricane likes to run blitz packages out of.

That is what the December’s final exams are like for the U football team when it gets invited to a bowl game.

“Yeah, I’d say it’s a little bit hard to concentrate on both. I mean, we’ve gotta keep our grades up in school so we can play,” said junior linebacker Kyle Brady. “Just sleep a little less at night and get your homework done.”

Every student knows that less sleep and more studying is the recipe for a successful Finals Week, but once the studying is done, the day doesn’t end for the football players.

The Utes have precious little time to prepare for the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 23, so not even Finals Week can completely halt football practice. What it can do is slow it down a bit.

“We’re only practicing for an hour, hour-and-a-half during Finals Week, so it’s not that bad,” Brady said.

Practice isn’t the only time the football team has to commit to bowl preparation. There is still game film to study and weights that need lifting, and some players even have families to consider on top of their schooling and football requirements.

“I’ve got a family as well,” safety Steve Tate said. “I’ve got a son and a wife so it’s a lot of pressure, but it’s nothing I can’t get through. (I) do my best to make the most of my time.”

Even Mr. Everything, Eric Weddle, who has already experienced the hectic Finals-Week-mixed-with-bowl-preparation carousel three times before, still finds this time of year stressful.

“This is the hardest finals I’ve had to go through?you just have stuff everyday,” Weddle said. “I’ve been here four years, so you learn how to use your time wisely and get everything done because if you don’t, you’re not going to play?it can get stressful for some of the guys.”

Though mixing finals and practice can be extremely demanding for the entire football team, a proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow does lie at the end of the finals hailstorm.

“One of the incentives for going to the bowl is we get some bowl gifts,” Brady said. “The deal is, if we don’t finish our finals off the right way, we don’t get some of the bowl gifts?it’s a pretty good deal if we finish up school the right way.”

As if the prospects of a college education and a chance to play in one last football game weren’t enough.

These days, bowls are allowed to dish out $500 worth of gifts in the form of jackets, shirts, gift cards, Playstation 3 consoles-you name it.

Yeah, with all the extra preparation, football players probably do experience a little more stress during Finals Week, but that stress likely vanishes before the players can say “Armed Forces Bowl” and start unwrapping their new iPods.

The only problem now is trying to get the football team motivated for Finals Week in April.

Lennie Mahler

Eric Weddle makes a run during the Utes’ Nov. 25 meeting with BYU.

Lennie Mahler

Bradon Godfrey hauls in a touchdown pass during the Utes’ Sept. 9 victory over Northern Arizona.