TAMPA, Fla. — The three buses pulled out of Big Rapids, Mich., at nine in the morning on Wednesday. They arrived in Tampa on Thursday morning at 11.

A mere 26-hour bus ride. Not exactly the stuff of travel brochures.

“It really wasn’t that bad,” said John Roy, a Ferris State fan who rates his enthusiasm on a one-to-10 scale as a 10 and a half. “We got a break about every four to five hours.”

During the hour-long breaks, the Bulldogs fans got food and walked around, hoping to sleep when they boarded the buses again.

“It wasn’t the most comfortable thing, but you’re on the bus with all your friends,” said Roy. “It was people spending quality time, creating memories.”

Rick Eldridge, a season ticket holder for going on a dozen years, conceded that the 26 hours were a little rough but still a price worth paying. Interviewed between the second and third periods while the score still stood 1-1 and a championship game berth wasn’t yet assured, Eldridge said that even if the Bulldogs lost to Union, the trip for a single game still would have been worth it.

“Oh yeah, big time,” he said. “Big time. Other than riding in the bus, it’s been so much fun, just hanging out and having a good time.”

The opinion was shared unanimously by the half dozen Ferris fans interviewed, almost all of which saw every Ferris home game this year and a few road ones, too.

“Definitely still worth it,” John Roy and Kelly Robertson said in unison.

“It’s my senior year and Ferris made it,” said Andrew Shaw. “I had to do it.”

Shaw hadn’t made it to the regional in Green Bay because of classes, but when kidded that perhaps his priorities had been misplaced, tried to set that notion to rest.

“Hey, I skipped on Wednesday to come down here,” he said with a grin.

Now the Ferris faithful will be getting a second game for their marathon trip, a game for the national championship. They didn’t know that while being interviewed but speculated on that possible dream come true.

“Oh yeah,” said Eldridge. “We’ll be talking about that for a long time.”