Roses are Cardinal and Gold

As long as I’ve been a college football fan, I’ve wanted to attend Rose Bowl week. Floats made of flowers, a matchup of 10s and a New Year’s Eve spent in sunny SoCal—is there a better way to kick off the new year? I didn’t think so.

And now, after spending the first week of 2008 on assignment in Los Angeles, I can say I know so. Here are 10 reasons why (and a few random thoughts) …

10. My reason for being in Los Angeles was to report the second of a six-part “This Way to the Draft” story on USC quarterback John David Booty. My photographer friend Mike and I showed up at media day on Sunday to observe the media crush on Booty. Only problem was, there was no crush. Apparently, media types are over the “USC plays Pac-10 underdog” line and opted to cover the Mary Kay Cosmetics Bowl instead. So I listened to Booty answer the few questions thrown his way, and observed how he handled the press (the focus of my story). What I noticed, and found quite interesting, was how easily this city can turn a LA (Louisiana) boy into an LA guy. (How many QBs from Shreveport own Emporio Armani shoes, Seven jeans and designer track jackets?)

9. The Rose Bowl stadium is deceptively ginormous. Being an SEC gal, I’ve logged the most game time in stadiums built to create the loudest possible atmosphere (Florida, LSU) while taking up the least amount of space. Wanna go bigger? Go vertical. The Rose Bowl, however, is built entirely on one level (much like Michigan’s stadium), with rows of seats spread out like a blooming flower. The downside: at times, it might actually be possible to hear a pin drop. The upside: no shade spots and all 93,000 folks have a view of both the field and the mountains surrounding the stadium. I see why players are wooed to this place.

8. Pre-parade festivities. In New York, we have the pre-Macy’s parade tradition of watching the blowing up of giant balloons in Central Park. That has nothing on the carnival around float building in Pasadena. Cali folks take their parades very seriously. Us New York folks, on the other hand, were super excited to watch our first Tournament of Roses Parade in person, until we found out it started at 8 a.m.—on New Year’s Day.

7. Number 7!

6. USC is in Los Angeles; the Rose Bowl is in Pasadena. It’s good info to know.

5. Even a snoozer of a Rose Bowl game has its moments. Like Desmond Reed’s front flip into the end zone. Take that, Penn State drum major. Dude’s in full pads.

4. I think the media assistant charged with typing game notes giggles every time he types “Booty play action”. “Booty, fake” ranks a close second.

3. A roller hockey player is the manager of LA’s swanky Sky Bar. Learning this was a crucial step to a silly fun New Year’s Eve. Nice one, Lindsay.

2. There are, at last count, around 1.5 million women named Jen Smith living in the greater Los Angeles area. But I’m pretty sure Lindsay, Mike and I had the best one guiding us around town.

1. One of the best things about this job is that, on your travels, you get to spend time with friends who’ve moved away, and make friends around the country. And sometimes just take friends from home on your trip with you.

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