SCHOOL SPIRIT: Stanford alumni held a pep rally on the Santa Monica Pier earlier this week. (Paul Alvarez Jr.
SCHOOL SPIRIT: Stanford alumni held a pep rally on the Santa Monica Pier earlier this week. (Paul Alvarez Jr.

The holidays are finally over and frankly, for me, it’s none too soon. With all the Christmas commercials on TV and the mobs of tourists everywhere I go, all I can say is, “Bring on February.”

This past Wednesday marked the 100th Rose Bowl game. This coming Monday the BCS National Championship game is also at the Rose Bowl. Combine the two and Santa Monica has been inundated with mobs of pale people desperate to get out of the cold and into the sun.

Wouldn’t you know it was almost 80 degrees here on New Year’s Eve. People freezing back east seeing all the sunshine and short sleeves means further hordes will relocate here. (“Mobs,” “hordes,” etc., I have a feeling our Chamber of Commerce won’t be fond of how I refer to tourists.)

For history buffs, the Rose Parade began as a promotional effort by Pasadena’s hoity-toity Valley Hunt Club in 1890. It was there that Professor Charles F. Holder announced to the group, “In New York, people are buried in snow. Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let’s hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise.” (Next time you’re stuck 20 minutes in Downtown traffic trying to go two blocks, you can thank Professor Holder.)

Also heavily promoted by Harrison Gray Otis, owner of the L.A. Times, as a way to lure people out here and increase the paper’s wealth and power, soon the festival included marching bands and motorized floats. (For a fascinating documentary on the history of the Times go online and type “Inventing L.A. PBS.”)

The Rose Parade also featured ostrich races, bronco busting and a race between a camel and an elephant. (I’m told the elephant won, which is probably the nicest reference I’ve made about Republicans in a while).

Viewing stands were built along the parade route, and eastern newspapers took notice. In 1895, the Tournament of Roses Association was formed and the first football game, the first post-season game in the nation as it happens, was staged on Jan. 1, 1902.

But when Michigan routed Stanford, 49-0, apparently it was such a disaster football was replaced with Roman-style chariot races. (Given the current Lakers season maybe that should happen at the Staples Center?)

But football was so popular it was reinstated in 1916. In fact, the Rose Bowl game was the venue of the first transcontinental radio broadcast of a sporting event in 1927 and the first national telecast of a college football game in 1952. (Imagine all the beer, tires and shave cream they’ve sold over the decades. Ah, what a country.)

This year there were 35 bowl games, which is probably 25 too many. I’m embarrassed to admit I watched more than a dozen. (Yikes!) At this year’s Rose Bowl, unlike in 1902, Stanford didn’t get routed, but they lost to Michigan State.

Meanwhile, my team, UCLA, clobbered Virginia Tech 42-12 at the Sun Bowl. The good news is that quarterback Brett Hundley made it look easy against the Hokies’ nationally fourth-ranked defense. (Whatever a “Hokie” is.) The bad news is that Hundley did so well, he’ll likely be leaving for the pros. (Brett, if you’re reading this, just one more year, please!)

But whose idea was it to come up with the new UCLA uniforms? What was wrong with blue and gold? The new black uniforms are atrocious. Somebody (actually, Adidas) must have paid or received a pretty penny, I’m not sure which. Thanks to coach Jim Mora, I’m thumbs up on the program, but thumbs down on the uniforms. Ugh.

Remember when it was just the Rose, Cotton, Orange and Sugar bowls? Now, in the age of the corporation, it’s the; AdvoCare V100; Beef O’Brady’s; Little Caesar’s; Buffalo Wild Wings; Capital One; and the Chick-fil-A. (Given its homophobic CEO, I suppose Chick-fil-A is the perfect chicken sandwich for gay marriage haters.)

With the National Security Agency clearly needing to repair its image, maybe the best way would be to sponsor a bowl game. Naturally, however, the game would likely be beset with unidentified leaks over the plays each team was going to run.

In addition to football, New Year’s is also “resolution season.” Creating resolutions dates all the way back to the ancient Babylonians. Our most popular resolution in the U.S. involves losing weight. It’s rather ironic given the number of fast-food chains sponsoring the bowl games. Oh well.

Forbes notes, however, that only 8 percent of us actually keep our New Year’s resolutions. I already have made mine for 2014 — “Watch less football!” That said, there are still five bowl games left, including the BCS Championship game at the Rose Bowl on Monday. I suppose it’s safe to say I won’t be part of that 8 percent.



Jack can be reached at, or via E-mail at

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