The folks who think California is already over-populated probably loved Thursday night's Rose Bowl game. On any other New Year's Day, the beauty of the stadium's Southern California setting, the mountains in the background, the shirt-sleeved spectators enjoying the seasonable warmth and the bright sun sparkling off the sousaphones could always be counted on to lure another few thousand frozen Easterners to the west coast-- to make the freeways more crowded and to complain that Los Angeles wasn't a real city.
No one need worry about such an exodus this year.
Like Wrigley Field, the Rose Bowl was never intended for games under the lights, but while the Chicago Cubs and their fans have managed to adjust, the Rose Bowl should have stuck to its daylight guns. After all, New Year's night was made for the Orange Bowl, with its glitzy half-time spectacular that has far more to do with show biz than football. There wasn't anything else to watch on television anyway, so if the entertainment value wasn't great, viewers didn't really mind.
Channel changing: This year, when the going got mediocre, the highly rated "E.R." and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" were only a couple of remote-control clicks away. With the overnight television ratings down about 17 percent for the first two Bowl Championship Series games, we won't be surprised to see lower ratings for the Rose Bowl either -- especially after the first half. Advertisers might not be so enthusiastic next year about shelling out the big bucks to sponsor a work-day football game.
The Rose Bowl, on the hand, had always been about college football -- an afternoon game, a traditional rivalry, with the teams' marching bands performing at half-time and no need for the excessively tedious television commentary necessitated by the ostensible national championship game.
Mismatch: Perhaps if it had been a real football game, the "Granddaddy" of all the bowl games might not have lost so much of its luster. But by the end of the half, with the score 34-0, it was obvious that the brilliant minds or computer programs or whatever that had concocted the Bowl Championship Series came up with a match that was clearly not made in heaven.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers should have stayed home. The Colorado Buffaloes, which beat Nebraska 62-36, tried to tell them that. And the Oregon Ducks, which beat Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl 38-16, could have told them that as well.
All that Nebraska corn was just no match for the hurricane that stormed through Pasadena.
We don't want to take anything away from the Miami Hurricanes. The only unbeaten Division 1 team, which decisively trounced its opponents with a powerful offense and defense, deserves all the attendant hoopla on being named the national champion. It's just that we still don't think being named the national champion is the same as winning that honor down on the field. Just ask Jim Tressel and all those YSU Penguin championship teams.
Next year, the Rose Bowl goes back to New Year's Day and will once again showcase the Big 10 and Pac 10 champions. And maybe, just maybe, it could be a Jim Tressel team playing on the Pasadena grass, in the warmth, with the sun sparkling on the sousaphones of "The Best Damn Band in the Land."