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Outback Coddling Begins in Iowa
`Team Coconut Shrimp' takes its turn with a complimentary meal Monday
Members of the Iowa football team head back to the buses after enjoying a team lunch at the Outback Steakhouse in Coralville Monday, Dec. 23.

Members of the Iowa football team head back to the buses after enjoying a team lunch at the Outback Steakhouse in Coralville Monday, Dec. 23.
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Dec. 23, 2013

Outback Steakhouse Photo Gallery  | Hawkeyes at Outback Steakhouse

By DARREN MILLER
hawkeyesports.com

CORALVILLE, Iowa -- We've got practice after this.

Those were the first words out of Drew Ott's mouth Monday when he entered Outback Steakhouse in Coralville. Ott, a sophomore defensive lineman from Trumbull, Neb., was moments away from enjoying a complimentary Outback Special meal, but the 6-foot-4, 265-pounder showed restraint during the feast with practice looming three hours later.

"I didn't have too many strawberry lemonades, I didn't want to get an upset stomach," Ott said. "I cleaned my plate, though. I'm a steak man, so the steak and potatoes were the best part."

2014 Outback Bowl insert

Every member of the University of Iowa football team and coaching staff received sirloin steak, chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and cheese cake. They kicked the meal off with coconut shrimp.

"It's reflective of the hospitality that the Outback Bowl people extend to you," UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "As a coaching staff, this is our fourth trip, so we kind of know what to expect. What we learned on our first trip in 2003 is how great they are. It's a first class trip and it starts in Iowa before we get on the plane."





"It's reflective of the hospitality that the Outback Bowl people extend to you. As a coaching staff, this is our fourth trip, so we kind of know what to expect. What we learned on our first trip in 2003 is how great they are. It's a first class trip and it starts in Iowa before we get on the plane."
Kirk Ferentz
UI head football coach


This particular Outback Steakhouse at 945 25th Avenue (Coralville Market Shopping Center) opened its doors for the Hawkeyes from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Normal operation hours are 4-10 p.m., so a staff of 17 servers and eight cooks arrived early for the special occasion.

"We get to celebrate with the team for their success," said Colby Smith, Outback Steakhouse joint venture partner. "A lot of the staff goes to the University of Iowa, so it's a big deal for them and a great day for us."

The managing partner at the Coralville Outback is Chris Riggins, a 2011 UI graduate who has also worked at Outback Steakhouses in Lincoln, Neb., and Cedar Rapids. There is no denying his allegiance when the game between Iowa (8-4 overall) and No. 14 Louisiana State University (9-3) will be played Jan. 1, 2014 in Tampa, Fla.

"LS who?" Riggins said with a smile.

The Outback Steakhouse staff was outfitted in gray long-sleeved T-shirts promoting the game. On the back, the Big Ten representative -- the Hawkeyes -- was identified as Team Coconut Shrimp. The selection from the Southeastern Conference -- LSU -- is Team Bloomin Onion.

Smith said this uniform is worn for the meal with teams (LSU had its event Dec. 19 in Baton Rouge, La.) and then again on game day next Wednesday.

UI running back Mark Weisman joined Ott in professing his allegiance to steak; wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley cast a vote for chicken.

"It was a great meal, one of the best we get all year, and I'm sure there are some more good ones when we get down there," Weisman said. "It's a good meal and it will get us fueled for practice today."

"We got to eat some good food and hang out with the guys in a different setting, so it was all good," Martin-Manley said.

Smith emphasized that Monday is a day to revel in past Hawkeye success with an extra helping of future good wishes.

"The No. 1 goal is to celebrate with the university and the football team the hard work they have put in," Smith said. "We want to send them off with a great meal and hopefully they will have a winning score at the end of the game."

The Hawkeyes have played three previous Outback Bowls, winning twice. They defeated No. 15 Florida 37-17 in 2004, lost to No. 16 Florida 31-24 in 2006, and defeated South Carolina 31-10 in 2009.

Regional marketing manager Nicole Rice flew in from Denver for Monday's event. Will she have her television set to ESPN on Jan. 1 at noon (CT)?

"Absolutely, 100 percent," she said.

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