Posted by Dr Fro 1:45 PM
Gnome Myth #1: Texas has no chance against USC
We got to LA and immediately went out to dinner with a friend. We ran into an Aggie that wished us luck against USC and bought us a drink. Very nice. We made our way back to the Best Western Pasadena where we were staying and also where Merry and Susan were staying. We were watching the local news and lo and behold, Merry and Susan were being interviewed! Susan said she was going to "Come early, be loud, wear orange and stay late" and Merry explained that here sister, Susan, gave her a Rose Bowl ticket for Xmas. A great precursor to the cosmic-alignedness of things to come...
We drove 6 miles to the Rose Bowl around 9:30a.m. It took an hour. We listened to the local radio guys who educated us on a few facts: Texas will get killed at least at badly as OU did a year ago, we have not played any good opponents, Vince only has good stats because he hasn't played a defense like USC's, blah, blah, blah. We made our way to the tailgate where I hung out with Beavis and Brad. Over the course of the day, the tailgate grew with more and more friends that I have been watching games with for a long time. This was my favorite aspect of the gameday: spending it with those with whom I most wanted to spend it.
Jane went into the stadium at 3:00 and I went to put up Alistair, the traveling football gnome and grap a sweatshirt. It was 4:00 when I joined her. The car was maybe 3/4 mile away, but the place was an absolute mob at this point. Between fans, marching bands, vendors, cops, etc, the scene outside the Rose Bowl was pretty crazy. The fans were all quite well lubricated. Not me. Not for the biggest game of my life. Didn't drink for Ohio State either. Gotta have my A game on.
Our seats were in the USC section. There was one complete ass sitting in back of us that was basically a jerk. One guy in front of us was Jeckle and Hyde all night: sometimes nice, sometimes obnoxious. Other than that, the USC fans were all very polite. They were unbelievably confident (shall I say "arrogant"?) but well-mannered. The four seats next to us were filled right before kickoff with 2 fratty UT guys and two smoking hot junior sorority girls from UT. They were to my right. Jane asked to switch seats with me. It was good that they were there because it helped to defuse some of the anger from the a-hole in back of us. Ahole stopped trying to instigate fights and starting flirting with the hotties. Fine with me.
When USC scored 7, Mr. Hyde turned around and said "We've been doing this all year." It was one of only two times that I was worried about the outcome of the game. Of course, we went on to score 16 unanswered points, and then we started feeling real good...
We were in the exact opposite corner of the field from where VY's knee hit the ground on the busted option play. Nobody where I was sitting (or anywhere in the stadium as far as I know) was aware of the controversy. I got a text message from ARH saying "VY's knee was down" about 30 minutes later, and I didn't know what play he was even talking about. I then overheard a USC fan having a conversation on his cell phone, and I pieced it together. Well, as a guy on Hornfans.com pointed out, we probably would have scored anyway, and we would not have rushed the PAT. Thus, we would have likely gotten 1 more pt, and USC would perhaps not had time to score that final FG. So, one could say that USC was the 4-pt. beneficiary of that non-call. We'll never know.
Halftime show by UT was great, but I thought the USC performance was a bit gay. The SBotSW played Beatles tunes and made formations of the state of tx, longhorns, a lone star, etc. The Spirit of Troy did Beat It by Michael Jackson. You pick.
I didn't leave my seat, but the word from everyone that did was that the aisles were completely packed. Evidently, a TON of people snuck in via various scams and I think the official attendance of 93k was way understated.
You know how the 2nd half went - 4 straight TD drives by USC with some scarce scoring by UT until app 6 minutes left. When we had the ball and were down by 12, I never doubted for a second that we would score at least 12 more points. Never. So, we went down and got 7 points pretty easily. I felt confident we would stop USC there. Sure, they just scored on 4 straight drives, but our defense has come up in the clutch so many times. Well, my confidence waned and I doubted victory for only the 2nd time when it was 4th and 2. I couldn't tell from my vantage point that it was a "long 2" and all I knew was that Lendale White was money on conversions all night. So, I thought we were doomed. Lendale was stopped, but they brought out the chains.
I later saw the game on TV and realized that everyone in TV Land knew that we had stopped them (courtesy of the "yellow line"), but I have to tell you that 93k fans (and a few coaches and players) were sweating it out. The camera showed the marker go down (with slack in the chain) behind the ball and 46k USC fans yelled. They tightened the chain and 46k UT fans went absolutely ecstatic. I have never (although this would change in about 2 football minutes) experienced so much electricity. People went absolutely apeshit.
Of course the rest is history. Vince was, well he was Vince, and he went down the field (thanks partially to a stupid Darnell Bing penalty) and scored for us. I think that 46k UT fans were in the same frame of mind that I was during this drive: This is what Vince does, we will win. And win we did.
I wanted to tap Mr. Hyde on the shoulder and say "We have been doing this for a long time"
The touchdown meant that I just won 1st place in one football pool ($200), 3rd place in another ($157), won my Vegas bet from back in August that UT would win the NC ($150), won UT +8 ($100) in Vegas and won a Payday candy bar from a coworker. Then we made the 2-pt conversion, which made me win the $25 "squares pool" as I had UT-1 USC-8.
The squares pool is an interesting story if you don't mind the tangent. My parents have had a bowl game party for 40+ years. They started it because they were the only ones that had a color television. Over the past 40 years, their friends have purchased color televisions, but they still come to the Friou house to watch bowl games. The hallmark of the party is the "squares pool." Well, my parents are getting old and they decided that this would be the last year to throw a party. With the Rose Bowl being the last game of the bowl season, this meant that I won the last ever Friou Bowl Party Squares Pool. Not a lot of money, but there was one helluva sentimental value associated with that one. More cosmic-alignedness!
Thank you for allowing me to digress...
So in more cosmic weirdness, two of my best friends (best man and groomsman in my wedding) were sitting about 20 yards from us. They were too far to talk to during the game, but close enough to flash my Hook em Horns at when necessary. My favorite part of the weekend was after the game when the USC fans disappeared quicker than you can say "wasted 3 timeouts" and I scooted over to Brad and Beavis.
We all wished each other a Happy National Championship, and I remembered what I like most about following the Horns around the country: getting to share it with those that mean the most to me. My best friend was right next to me and two great friends were with us for the post-game celebration.
The celebration continued through the night and for the most part the USC fans were gracious with "good game" etc. Matt Leinert and some others irked me slightly with the suggestion that they were still the better team but that "UT played better on Wednesday night" Whatever.
So in more cosmic weirdness, I sit next to CCM on the plane and he tells me that he couldn't find a ticket. He was getting in a cab to leave the Rose Bowl, hoping to catch the game on TV at a sports bar. If he hurried, he and MM could see the last 3 quarters. The guy he shared the cab with listened to his sob story and then the dude's wife said, "oh, honey let him have our tickets." Evidently, he had tickets but no interest in going! And he was afraid to sell since scalping is illegal. Thus, he was planning on just keeping them for a freaking souvenir. CCM took the dude's tickets and got to see the end of the 1st qtr and the rest of the game. Now, that is cool.
So that is my story. I have waited my whole life (I was born in 1973, 26 months after our last championship) to see that and I really wasn't sure if I ever would. I always had hope. Always. And let me tell you, fulfilled hope is one heck of a good feeling.