War Eagle Extra

Why Auburn passed up opportunity to practice in the Superdome

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn speaks to the media previewing the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016 in New Orleans, La.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn speaks to the media previewing the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016 in New Orleans, La. Auburn Athletics

Oklahoma has four practices at the Superdome in New Orleans this week leading up to the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2.

Auburn is practicing down the street at Tulane Yulman Stadium, which opened its doors in 2014.

According to a bowl spokesperson, the Sooners had first choice of venue and practice time for the New Year’s six matchup as the designated home team.

Oklahoma chose to practice in the afternoon (1:10-3:10 p.m.) at the site of the game leaving Auburn with the option of holding their practices at the Superdome in the morning or moving offsite without scheduling restrictions.

An Auburn spokesperson said the coaching staff was concerned over the timing of practicing in the morning — as early as 8 a.m. — at the Superdome as well as the small window of time it would have given coaches and equipment staff at the start and end of practice.

The Tigers needed to clear out of the venue completely by the time Oklahoma arrived at noon to set up.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops sounded pleased about the programs using separate practice facilities. Stoops alluded to issues leading up to the 2004 Sugar Bowl with using the Superdome alongside LSU.

“Some of the timing issues with the other team coming when they were or weren’t supposed to,” Stoops said.

The teams could still both end up in the Superdome if there is inclement weather this week. Auburn will move indoors at the facility for the morning practice session if weather becomes an issue.

Stoops said the team initially considered using the New Orleans Saints practice facility. The Sooners practiced at the facility in Metairie about 10 miles away from the Superdome leading up to the 2014 Sugar Bowl.

“Their schedule is a little later than it had been the last time we were there otherwise we would have opted to go to their facility again,” Stoops said.

Late practices would have conflicted scheduled events planned by Sugar Bowl organizers.

“We didn’t want to get caught in a situation where we are running short,” Stoops said. “It will be great to practice in there (the Superdome).”

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

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