Friday, January 01, 2010

The Rose Bowl

Happy New Year!

This afternoon Oregon will play Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. Except for a West Coaster’s preference that the Pac-10 beat the Big Ten I don’t much care what happens. That wasn’t the case 56 years ago, on Jan. 1, 1954

I was in the middle of my junior year at UCLA. By beating the hated Trojans in the last game of the ’53 season we’d earned the right to play Michigan State in the Rose Bowl. I was an avid Bruin. Being in the Rose Bowl was a big deal. I was determined to make the most of it.

I don’t remember much about New Year’s Eve except that a few buddies and I partied and didn’t sleep. We arrived in Pasadena well before dawn to make sure we had a good viewing spot for the Rose Parade. That it was cold and misty didn’t dampen our spirits. Our adrenalin level was off the charts, more than enough to keep our enthusiasm at a fever pitch.

Even though we had about four hours to kill between the parade and the game we decided to head to the stadium. We had tickets for the UCLA student section, but the seats weren’t reserved. We wanted to be near the front of the line when the gates opened. Of course, there was no line. It was a mass of bodies all juggling for position. But we were near the front and well placed to make a dash for good seats.

We did brilliantly. We were halfway up the stands on the 45-yard line. Everything was in place for a great afternoon. The only thing left to happen was for us to win the game. Didn’t happen. We lost 28-20. While the overall experience was special, I was very disappointed at the result.

Wikipedia reminds me that my expectations were perhaps too high. Michigan State had won national championships two of the last three years and was near the top this year.

As I said, who wins today’s Rose Bowl isn’t too important to me. But I’m sure to check in on the game from time to time – for old time’s sake.


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