SHRINE CLASSIC Buckeyes, 'Canes are friends
Ohio State punter Andy Groom and Miami kicker Todd Sievers are roommates this week.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- In the Phoenix airport, Miami kicker Todd Sievers ran into the Ohio State players also headed to the East-West Shrine Classic -- and he hoped he wouldn't be forced to room with one of them.
The Hurricanes had lost the Fiesta Bowl to the Buckeyes 31-24 in double overtime only hours earlier, snapping the defending national champions' 34-game winning streak.
When Sievers received his room assignment, it was just what he'd feared: Ohio State punter Andy Groom.
After a few days together, however, Groom is planning a trip to Florida to train with Sievers for a couple of weeks before the NFL combine in Indianapolis next month.
"He's a cool kid," Sievers said. "We've become close friends. He wants to come down and kick in the warm weather, and I don't blame him. He can come down and kick anytime."
Felt the same way
Groom also was wary about hanging out with the Hurricanes.
"I thought it might happen and I was upset about it," he said. "I really didn't want to be stuck with Miami, until I met [Sievers]."
Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey's locker is right next to Groom's in the San Francisco Giants' clubhouse at Pacific Bell Park, where the East team will dress before Saturday's game.
There have been no problems. Dorsey sees the meaning beyond just football for the Shrine Game, which features the nation's premier college players divided into teams from the East and West.
The game has raised more than $14 million for the Shriners Hospital since it was introduced in 1925.
"This is something where I'm glad I get to come out and play in this game and get back going again and get back on the field doing the thing I love," Dorsey said. "It's for a great cause and we get to do our part for some special people. Hopefully we can have an impact on their lives."
Close to home
Dorsey has never played so close to home. He was a standout at Miramonte High School in nearby Orinda.
"It means a lot," Dorsey said. "The closest I've ever played to home was at Washington."
The game is also a homecoming for East coach Tyrone Willingham, who just finished his first season coaching Notre Dame following seven seasons as coach at Stanford.
Fresno State coach Pat Hill's West team will be led by Nebraska running back Dahrran Diedrick, Oregon receiver Keenan Howry, Southern California receiver Kareem Kelly and Iowa State quarterback Seneca Wallace. Groom will be joined by Ohio State teammates Michael Doss and Donnie Nickey. It's been a whirlwind two weeks since they left for the Fiesta Bowl.
The Buckeyes won their first national championship in 34 years.
"It's not going to sink in for a while," Groom said.