Thursday, January 3, 2013

Roses are Red (special edition)

Another grand opportunity popped up over Christmas break to attend a major Bowl game which was too hard to pass up. It turned out to be an offer to attend the Granddaddy of them all, the incomparable Rose Bowl! Have you ever tried to get up at 4 AM on New year’s Day and ride in a Griswold cruising vessel for 5+hours through methane filled cow fields to restart the party? It would be easier just pulling an all nighter and roll with the punches the next day. As it was, we met up in Danville at 4:45 AM and made the 5 + hour trip south to Pasadena. David “Yo Adrienne” Seals in all his roidness (more on that later) captained the vessel that took us down Interstate 5 to the venerable old stadium. We were joined in the “Shaggin Wagon” by Mark Byron and Ken Croley.  We met up with the other half of our crew at the pre game ritual, Wisconsin diehards Jim McCourt and his fellow cheese heads Dave and Ken.
Yo Adrian, my eyes are swollen!

We set up our tailgate on the dog leg left of the 8th hole of the Brookside Municipal Golf Course adjacent to the Rose Bowl. Seriously, the majority of the Rose Bowl tailgating is done on a nice golf course next to the stadium!  During our festivities the assistant greens keeper was even spotted killing gophers, not golfers otherwise they would have locked him up and thrown away the keys! 

The assistant greens keeper ready to hunt gopher.

The pre game Tailgate menu consisted of Sis’s famous Wisconsin beer brats that were met with approval from our Wisconsin guests, polish sausages and something simply labeled “meat” in a container with marinade provided by Captain Seals. Is anyone missing a family pet or exotic farm animal? 
Mystery Smeat
A bunch of sides including some weird things called vegetables were on display. Adequate amounts of libations were provided and imbibed as well.  No flip cup or beer pong but cornhole was played and country songs were sung and car drivers were yelled at by rent a cops. Right Suburban Dave?

The Motley Crew

The Chefs

Mark the king of bean bag toss AKA corn hole

A little history about the Rose Bowl game:
The tournament of Roses parade began in 1890 in Pasadena, thus was the genesis of what we call the Rose Bowl parade today. In 1902 Pasadena hosted the first Rose Bowl football game pitting Michigan against Stanford.  I am pretty sure Keith Jackson called that game for ABC. The game was such a blowout (49 – 0 in Michigan’s favor) that for the next 13 years the Rose Bowl committee opted to host Chariot races instead of football.  Hence the origins of Keith Jackson’s famous phrase “Whoa Nellie!” has now been uncovered. In 1916 the football game was reintroduced. In most years the game matched a team from the West versus a team from the East/Midwest. Eventually the tradition took hold to match top teams from what are currently the Big 10 and PAC 12 conferences.  In the current BCS format the champion of each of those conferences plays in this game unless they are ranked either #1 or # 2 in the BCS poll and are playing for the national championship.  So there you have it, a history lesson from the Tailgate!

Tickets Please!
It was a beautiful So Cal sunny January day that started off cold, became balmy and ended cold. The Wisconsin Band took the field and performed admirably only to be followed by that joke of a so called Stanford Band. The colors were raised, the anthem sung and we were treated to a B2 Stealth flyover. Man was that ever cool as it was so quiet we did not see it until it was right over us! Many self proclaimed experts including myself did not feel that Wisconsin was worthy of a Rose Bowl invitation as they finished the regular season with 5 losses. Additionally with Penn State and Ohio State ineligible for post season play, it appeared the Badgers got in by default. Nonetheless, the Badgers proved to be up for this most important Bowl Game. The Badgers were coached on this day by former legendary Coach and current AD, Barry Alvarez after the departure of Coach “Curly” Bulimia to the land of Wal Mart Nation.  Barry stepped in for a one game only assignment netting a cool $119 large. Stanford was anchored by a well balanced team on both sides of the ball featuring Danville’s All American Zach Ertz and rising star Quarterback Kevin Hogan and the beast of a linebacker Shane Skov. Stanford overpowered Wisconsin on its first 2 drives taking a 14 – zip lead before the Badgers got their creek legs and introduced a steady diet of Ball, Montee Ball that is. Additionally, the Badger defense sturdied itself and held Stanford to only 2 field goals for the next 40 minutes. The game came down to a potential game winning drive by Wisconsin when the Badger QB threw an INT with 2 minutes left and down by 6.  The Tree hung on to win earning their first Rose Bowl win since 1982.

The B-2 Stealth flyover!

Puff Daddy and Jim McCourt

Dan and a puffier Dave

Wisconsin on the move
The most interesting part of the game however, was cocktailing in the first aid station during halftime and the 3rd quarter with Compadre David Seals. David had a nice Benadryl IV cocktail while I swirled my $10 Miller Lite in the room of the passed out amateurs. You see David had an allergic reaction to a macadamia nut several days prior to the game and was treated with steroids.  The problem is he also had an allergic reaction to the steroids that made his hands and face swell up. I told him he got screwed because he should have opted for the flavor that puffs up your biceps and shoulders. As it was, his ring finger swelled up so badly he lost circulation in his hand. The EMT’s cut off his ring to avoid the pressure. Now some people will go to elaborate lengths to explain to their spouse how they lost their wedding rings but this was ingenious. David, I will support you on this so long as you keep making those payments! Nonetheless the EMT’s did a great job treating David and we returned to our seats before the end of the 3rd quarter. Others in the aid station remained fast asleep. Never a dull moment in the web of fun at the Tailgate.

Did you just cut my wedding ring off dude?

Rocky after the big fight!
In other games, the Orange Bowl was as bad as predicted however the Sugar Bowl was a major upset with Louisville pounding the mighty Florida Gators in Nawlins. The Northwestern Wildcats got Bonzo off their back with their first Bowl win since 1949 trouncing Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. In fact, many of the nerd schools (I say that endearingly) did well in Bowls this years with NW, Stanford, Vandy and Rice all securing cracker jack prizes. Only Duke fell to a lesser educated squad. The Ole Ball coach and the Gamecocks knocked off Michigan and Dennard in the Outback Bowl. In the Chick Fil A Bowl a cat fight broke out with the Clemson Tigerz clawing their way to victory over the Bayeux Bengals.  By the way, Chick Fil A is my all time favorite fast food joint, just look at my T&E receipts. In the Citrus Bowl UGA turned the Cornhuskers into compost and planted them in the Turf.  The Fiesta Bowl turned out to be a one sided affair as the Ducks form Eugene flew by the Wildcats of Manhattan and captured the Arizona crystal.

Post game festivities.
Okay, so now I am off to the tanning salon and Brazilian waxing shop to ready myself for the big trip to South Beach.  All packed, I have my speedo, flip flops, sunscreen and Notre Dame T's in the bag!!!!

Ready for South Beach!
 Happy Tailgating!