The captains of the Notre Dame football team made their excitement about heading to the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl utterly clear when they met with the media on Monday afternoon.
Grimes and Bruton battled back and forth over their first names with Grimes referring to Bruton as ‘David-2' before the safety fired back, calling Grimes ‘Little David.' Bruton even broke out a brief Hula dance when asked his impressions of the islands.
Their giddiness should be no surprise considering the Notre Dame administration asked for the players' input on bowl destinations. The players gave their opinion to Charlie Weis on Friday.
"Coach Weis came to the captains and the leadership guys and just kind of asked us from our standpoint, what do we think is best for the team," Crum said. "There were some options, they all had their pros and cons."
The decision, however, was not unanimous.
"Being that I'm from Detroit, I kind of fought it, my vote was for the Motor City Bowl," Grimes said. "I mean Detroit, we have better weather than Hawai'i."
But Hawai'i was the ultimate choice for multiple reasons.
"Hawai'i just fits perfectly into our schedule. You go in right from exams and hit the road and you're right there for football. It's good for our break, there's no interruption in our break as football players," said Bruton. "We get a chance to finish the game early. Some of us will get home on Christmas Day, others maybe a little late and have this long break that a lot of us haven't experienced yet."
The break will also give the seniors time to prepare for any all-star games that they are invited to play in. Crum has already been asked to play in the East-West Shrine Bowl while Bruton has been invited to the Senior Bowl.
"Obviously, Hawai'i is very attractive to a lot of players," he said. "It maximizes our break time and it makes it easier to roll into the football game and not put us at a disadvantage versus going home and enjoying Christmas and maybe some guys saying, ‘Aw, man. I've got to go back.'"
Crum is one the guys who might not make it back for Christmas Day.
"Leaving so fast and for the guys like myself, who have to fly from Hawai'i to Florida, it's an extremely long flight. I'm probably going to have a layover somewhere," he said. "Those are some of the cons, but I think for the team, it makes the most sense."
Another negative is the fact that most of the players' families will not be able to make the trip because of the cost and the holiday.
"It's just too far," Crum said. "I just know that my parents aren't going to go because they've got family stuff planned for Christmas and it'd be kind of tough to try to straighten that out."
Grimes' mother plans on being there in spirit though.
"My mother said that she was going to watch the game in a beach chair with sand in the house," he laughed.
Bruton's family is going to try to make the trip if they can get flights cheaper than the ones they first saw that were more than $4,000.
"I was surprised that I got a call last night and my Dad was like, ‘Look for flights for us, a cheaper one,'" Bruton said. "I was kind of shocked that they were even thinking about flying to Hawai'i."
Crum said that even without his immediate family, he would still have family with him.
"Not having your loved ones there to share that moment with you, but again we're a pretty close team so I think we'll make due," he said.
Bruton said that after last year's 3-9 season any bowl would be nice and going to Hawai'i is even nicer.
"I believe that going to a bowl game in general should energize the team. A lot of us are upbeat and peppy about the fact that we're going to a bowl game. I guess Hawai'i adds a little more excitement and a little more wind under our sails for a lot of guys because some guys would never imagine going to Hawai'i in the first place, let alone to play under the sun," he said. "It's more attractive than Houston or something like that."
Grimes agreed with Bruton.
"I definitely agree with what David-2 said," he said. "There's just a lot of guys happy that we're going to a bowl. I think there's even more energy because of Hawai'i. Nice weather, beautiful women."
Later, Bruton took a chance to respond to Grimes.
"Yeah, what Little David said, it's just basically living a dream or a fantasy just to go out there," he said to laugher from the media.
But the Irish know that this is not just a pleasure trip.
"I believe that the team is well-prepared and got their mindset right that it's not vacation, it's a business trip," said Bruton. "The free time that we do get, enjoy it, soak in the sun, soak in the memory, but when it comes game time or when it's practice, you've got take it seriously. Because we're not coming there just to end up 6-7, we want to be 7-6."
Grimes said that the team would have its priorities straight when they arrive.
"The party line since we found out has been just to win the bowl game," he said. "I think secondly is to enjoy a place like Hawai'i, but definitely our goal is to win the bowl game."
It will be up to the captains to make sure that the entire team sees it that way.
"It's our job as leaders to make sure that message gets through," Crum said.
The Irish started their scouting of Hawai'i by watching the Warriors against Cincinnati on Saturday night. The thing that jumped out first to Crum was the amount of receivers that Hawai'i puts on the field.
"From what I saw, I think they're a really good team," he said. "They're definitely a really good opponent."
Grimes was impressed with the play of the Warriors at home.
"Their record at home is 22-4 in their last 26 games, so they're definitely a quality opponent," he said.
Notre Dame will look to accomplish a couple of things with a win.
"This truly is my last chance to leave a mark on the program," Crum said. "Also, to give those guys who are coming back a little something to build off of.
"I'm looking forward to seeing those guys essentially showing what they're going to do next year. Those guys are no longer young guys now. At this point, most of those guys who are starting are becoming juniors and sophomores with years under their belts and a ton of playing time. Bowl games are the kind of games that you start to see the bright spots heading into next year."
Bruton sees things along the same lines.
"It's the final shot that I have to make my mark. I care a lot about those guys and I want to prepare them and springboard them to a positive start for the next season," said Bruton. "So it's a bit selfish on my hand, but also selfless."
The Irish will also be trying to put an end to the nine-game losing streak Notre Dame has in bowl games.
"That'd be a major accomplishment, especially as mine and Little David's class is quote-unquote ‘The Forgotten Class' or the worst class in Notre Dame history. It'd be great to be able to say that we broke that streak," Bruton said. "For me personally, I'm 0-2 playing here in a bowl. I want to end my streak. The overall Notre Dame record in a bowl it does weigh a little bit, but in the grand scheme of things I want to just handle what's going on now."