My Day at the Rose Bowl
by ndoldtown (11/09/2005 01:07:26)
Attended my first Rose Bowl yesterday. A joyous time was had by all.
1. I always run into these people. Its like radar with me. We get to our seats -- very nice -- around the fifty and ten rows up. In front of us pulls in one of them. He is about mid-thirties, completely bald pate, wrap-around Schwarzenegger-style reflecting shades, and -- my favorite -- a number 21 Michigan jersey with "HOWARD" on the back. My general view is that Congress should enact a law making it a felony punishable by not fewer than ten years imprisonment for anyone over the age of twelve to wear an athletic jersey of any team with anyone's name on it. In any event, this guy lived up to all expectations and stereotypes. He explained that he had moved to California to work "in the industry" but still bleeds maize and blue. Constant references to Desmond throughout the game. At one point on the jumbotron they flash up pictures of NFL alumni of the schools and show Desmond. The guy stands up and shreiks "DESMO!!!!" and begins frantically pointing at his jersey. At that point I said rather loudly "I always thought Howard was black." Many laughs, including from the mother of quarterback Vince Young of Texas, who was seated behind us.
2. It was really amusing watching the Texas fans come into contact with the Michigan pathology. Everywhere you turned, Michigan people were at pains to make them understand the tremendous treat they were having by being exposed to all things Blue. Over and over, while in line for the men's room, waiting for a hot dog, making way to my seat, I got to hear the “Champions of the West” explain to authentic Westerners the glories of the big M. Topics upon which the benighted Texans were educated included: (1) the famed "winged helmet" (quote "bet you never saw a helmet like that in Texas", naturally without disclosure that the helmet design was stolen from Princeton); (2) the size of their unkempt hole in the ground (I quote, "the Rose Bowl is around the same size as our on-campus stadium"); (3) most laughably of all, their oft-pretended academic integrity (quote "It is good we finally got to play. These are two programs that do it the right way"!!!???!!! evidently in this fan’s eyes “right way” equals a football grad rate of 68%?); and, (4) unavoidably, compulsively, inevitably, reference to the symphony-quality, Von Karajan-inspired, better-than-Bernstein, a notch above Sir George Solti-level Michigan Marching Band (I quote "Have you ever heard any of their albums?" -- I swear to God I am serious here -- "You are in for a treat.")
3. Not being from the Midwest, and not being indoctrinated from birth by Big Ten propaganda regarding the Athens of the Midwest, the Texas people -- full of their own sense that they came from the center of the known universe -- did not harbor any notion that Michigan as a concept was anything special. Having an economy larger than most countries, flush with new money and glitz, the Texans were not taking any shit from people whose economic shift has been toward a burgeoning fast food service economy. Indeed, most of the Texans seemed to have looks of confusion and surprise that they were being condescended to every time they came into contact with people from -- of all places -- Michigan. Isn’t that where everyone wanted to move to Texas to get away from? Being used to lording it over Indiana and Iowa, Michigan people were disoriented by dealing with people who clearly felt they, their school and their state were nothing special and an insignificant speck compared to - - - TEXAS, BY GOD!
4. Best interaction of the day -- one that sums up much of the Michigan football ethos: A Michigan guy who could not have been more than in his mid-twenties -- probably entry-level at some accounting firm wearing Oakleys, M hat and jeans -- is in line next to a very distinguished-looking gentleman in his mid sixties wearing cowboy hat, stenciled boots, expensive sports jacket, Rolex and with a well-turned-out wife with much expensive jewelry. The Michigan kid begins to explain the facts of life to the rich old man informing him that he "Doesn’t understand. To you this is a BCS game, to us it is important just because it is the Rose Bowl. That is real tradition, man. You guys just don’t get it."
5. Back to the arena - the guy in front of me explains that he has been to fourteen Rose Bowls with Michigan. I ask devilishly, "How many have they won?" He pauses -- "We've gotten a few."
6. For the coin toss they have former Texas and Michigan legends Darrel Royal and Bo Schembechler come out. The Michigan crowd wails like they have seen the face of God, unaware that Bo's coaching achievements are the equivalent of having your cow win the Okeemos County 4H ribbon for ten consecutive years but never making it past the second-round milking qualifier at the state championship. Guy in front of me: "There goes a real coach." Me: "Yeah, I wonder if Royal is going to show Bo one of his National Championship rings."
7. Michigan up ten in fourth quarter - Guy in front of me filled with glee - chest-puffing and lording it over all the Texas people around us. Then - disaster. As the clock ticks down in the last minute, screaming for Lllloyyyydddd to call time-out. Kick goes through -- head in hands -- surrounded by whoops of Texans out of their minds -- unable to leave because the crowd is too densely-packed. I begin my post-game commentary in voice loud enough to be heard as appropriate "Can't believe Carr took his team off the field without shaking hands -- not what you expect in a game with this much class." -- "Lost every big game they played this year" -- "Red states kick ass" -- "Brown finally found somebody he could out-coach" -- "ten losses in last fourteen Rose Bowls"
8. Then, gloriously, the magnificently tacky Texas band -- cowboy hats, what looks like warm-up pants and tennis shoes strikes up "The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You." I simply must join in -- forming index and pinky fingers into “the hook’em horn” as I sing along, I repeatedly point them to my eyes and back to Michigan man a la Robert DeNiro in "Meet The Parents" -- "The Eyes of Texas are upon yewwwww, all the live-long day!!"
9. Next UM conquest - Northern Illinois.