FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Plenty of people will enjoy their Tuesday afternoon as the aquamarine waves roll onto Miami Beach on a sun-splashed 82-degree day at the end of December.
Except the Michigan football team.
Friends and family members of Michigan’s football team spent the afternoon at the Miami Beach Resort and Spa just north of Miami Beach’s Millionaire’s Row district, near famed resorts such as the Fontainebleau and the Eden Roc.
No. 6 Michigan, meanwhile, spent Tuesday in meetings, in a team lunch and in practice at Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla., as it prepares to face No. 11 Florida State in the Orange Bowl at 8 p.m. ET Friday.
As it spends this week in the tropics, leisure time isn’t necessarily a part of Michigan’s schedule.
“Last year was a surprise, but this year we know, we want to be down here strictly for business,” Michigan fullback Khalid Hill said. “Coach (Jim) Harbaugh wants us to be able to master whatever we’re doing, the playbook or whatever we’re doing on offense, so he’s going to maximize as much time as we can toward football.
“And all of us understand that, that it’s a business trip. This is not a trip to have fun. We do have a game we have to be ready for.”
“Business trip” has become a familiar refrain for Michigan in late December. When Michigan’s players saw its football-centric agenda for the week of the Orange Bowl, they understood. They’ve bought into the intense schedule.
“It’s all football,” Michigan receiver Amara Darboh said Tuesday morning. “Going off the last bowl, Coach Harbaugh knows what he’s doing, what works and what doesn’t. The results from the last bowl (a 41-7 win in January against Florida in the Citrus Bowl), as players, you trust him and trust what he has planned for us.”
Michigan arrived in South Florida on Christmas Day and on Monday, their first full day, this was their schedule, in a nutshell: breakfast, meetings, lunch, downtime, practice, dinner at Dave and Buster’s, more meetings and then curfew by 11 p.m.
“It’s very organized,” Darboh said.
Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight discusses his team’s first 24 hours in South Florida for the Orange Bowl:
Michigan’s days in south Florida are designed and determined right down to the hour — and Michigan’s players get repeated text messages during the course of a day that reminds them what’s next, such as a scheduled meal in the noon hour, for example, or an 8:30 p.m. team meeting.
“It’s a very tight schedule,” Michigan running back De’Veon Smith said. “It’s a lot of meetings. You get a little bit of free time, but it’s mostly meetings, eating and playing in the game room. That’s basically it.”
What does Smith do in the little free time he has during the week of bowl preparations?
“I lay down,” Smith said, grinning. “Just lay in my bed, and it’s actually a pretty nice bed at the hotel.”
Florida State also has a similar schedule, but didn’t got into many details.
“Free time?” Florida State defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi said, tongue-in-cheek. “What’s that?”
Florida State, Nnadi said, has some.
“At the end of the day, when we’re done with practice and Orange Bowl activities, we do have some free time with ourselves just to kick back and relax,” Nnadi said. “You can get all the things you need to work on, that you have to get done before you can relax and have fun.”
Several Michigan players said they plan to stay in the Miami area for a few days afterward, to actually enjoy Miami and get away from football. But on Tuesday, while Michigan’s family and friends were lounging on the beach, Smith had to take a second to figure out what his team’s immediate Tuesday morning plans were.
“I didn’t look at the schedule yet,” Smith said. “I don’t know what exactly we have planned for today.”