SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Syracuse football coach Dino Babers relishes the start of preseason practice, calls it his favorite time of year.

So why did he miss the first two days? As he would say: Familia!

His mom, Patsy Ann, was celebrating her 80th birthday on Saturday and Babers wanted to be there to surprise her. So he asked the team for permission to make the trip to California.

He hadn’t been there for that special day in 40 years because of where it falls on the calendar.

“My family and my mom understand that this is my job and on that date I’m in camp and I’m doing things,” Babers said. “For the football team to give me an opportunity to go back and celebrate that day with her and my family, I really do appreciate it.”

The 58-year-old Babers has been involved in the game since 1979, his first season in college at Hawaii.