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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Dec. 15, 2010) – The BYU football team enjoyed its first day of New Mexico Bowl activities on Wednesday as the team arrived in Albuquerque, practiced, and joined UTEP for dinner and the announcement of the winner of the Chile Bowl cook-off.
After an initial delay on the tarmac in Salt Lake City waiting for the plane to be de-iced, the Cougars and company took off early this morning, landing in Albuquerque a little more than an hour later.
Upon arriving at the hotel, the party was greeted with an authentic mariachi band outside the front doors and the Cougar Fight Song proudly sounding down the halls inside, a welcome greeting provided by New Mexico Bowl representatives to the players, coaches, staff and their families.
The team had enough time to put down their bags and eat a quick lunch before getting back on the buses and traveling to nearby Manzano High School for practice. Despite warm temperatures just an hour before, a constant wind made things increasingly chilly during the approximately 80-minute run-through. Afterward, the team returned to the hotel to get ready for dinner at the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum, which sits adjacent to the grounds used for the city’s annual hot air balloon fiesta, the largest hot air balloon festival in the world, drawing around 750 hot air balloons every October.
While both BYU and UTEP enjoyed dinner, the winner of the New Mexico Bowl’s annual El Pinto Chile Bowl was announced. A video was shown of each team preparing its own chili after which three local judges, including Miss New Mexico, were shown testing each team’s end result.
Provided with a recipe provided by strength and conditioning coach Jay Omer’s wife, BYU’s team of Brandon Bradley, Brandon Ogletree, Jason Speredon and Richard Wilson helped the Cougars take home the El Pinto Chile Bowl plate for the best chile. The four-man team cooked the chile a few days before in the kitchens of Ruby River Steakhouse, using a spicy combination to beat out the UTEP's entry. BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall accepted the award from Dave “The Pope of Peppers” DeWitt, the world’s foremost authority on chile peppers who has authored more than 30 books on the subject.
BYU was happy to win the friendly competition and hopes to change the fortunes of past Chile Bowl winners as none of the previous four victors went on to win the actual bowl game in the four-year history of the event.
To end the night, members of the team enjoyed the hospitality room by playing video games, eating, watching television and socializing.