Wolverines get through bumpy ride to the West

Times Staff Writer

Winning 11 games this season was only part of what Michigan needed to reach the Rose Bowl -- the Wolverines also had to endure the flight to Los Angeles.

Their charter plane suffered mechanical problems Friday, forcing them to sit on the tarmac for more than three hours, watching movies and trying to relax, before taking off.

Then they hit turbulence.

"Kind of crazy," linebacker Dave Harris said. "It was a bumpy ride. A long ride."

The team finally arrived at its Century City hotel at 8 p.m., almost four hours behind schedule, filing into a dining room for a late meeting.

"Quite a day," Coach Lloyd Carr said. "We're here and that's the main thing."

The trip was even rougher for several players who spent the last few days with family and were scheduled to arrive on separate flights.

Defensive tackle Alan Branch needed some creative travel agenting work to avoid getting caught in winter storms that affected several airports around the nation. Carr said four of his players never made it to Southern California and weren't expected to join the team until later. Those who did make it said they were eager to get back on the field after several days off. The Wolverines will hold their first workout at the Home Depot Center in Carson today.

Their practices will be closed to the public.

Though the flight was unusual, the Rose Bowl routine will be familiar to much of the team. This is the third time in four years that Michigan will play in Pasadena on New Year's Day.

"We've been out here a couple of times, so we know what to expect," Harris said.


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