Granddaddy still looking good at 97

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Michael Hunt
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
— If we’re honest—and, let’s face it, who out here is?—the college football postseason is a lot like the Hollywood scene.

Style puts the big hurt on substance. Most of it is illusory and disposable. And whether it’s a Will Ferrell production or the Meineke Car Care Bowl we’re talking about, about 98 percent of it is instantly forgettable.

Then you go see Granddaddy to remember why any of this outside the national championship game is important.

The old guy’s looking pretty good for 97, but you would, too, if you wintered in 65-degree sunshine while relaxing in the cradle of the San Gabriel Mountains. If there is a more beautiful backdrop in all of sports than the red rose positioned above the green script on the white facade of the most famous stadium in the world, let it come to Pasadena and snatch it from Granddaddy’s distinguished grip.

But that’s not happening.

The very idea that any college football game is more eminent than the Rose Bowl is even more absurd as the banality going around that its latest staging is all about Wisconsin’s size against Texas Christian’s speed, the dump trucks vs. the Ferraris, as someone mentioned Tuesday.

We’ll deal with that one later. For now, it’s good to know that the Badgers are back in the only realistic place that matters.

In its 21 bowl games, Bucky has slummed about in some forgettable joints. Two were played in pro stadiums that no longer exist. One was sponsored by a weed-whacker. One was on a field that was home to the CFL, the XFL, the WFL and other inanities. And way too many were in a central Florida dump that hasn’t seen a paintbrush or a broom in a half-century.

Come back to southern California, though, and it’s easy to see through the haze and the traffic why 11 years removed from the Rose Bowl is 11 too many. If you can’t play for the whole thing, there is no other place to be than right here in Granddaddy’s warm embrace.

Yes, Wisconsin-TCU has much more than a fighting chance to be better and far more memorable than anything out there beyond Oregon-Auburn, but we’ve got the rest of the week to talk matchups and such.

For now, let me remind you again why the seventh time, or even the 77th, at the Rose Bowl never gets old. Whether you get here via the Foothill Freeway or the Ventura Freeway or the Hollywood Freeway, all roads lead to splendor.

It’s how the surrounding hills turn a shade of purple when the second-quarter sun begins to disappear. It’s grass so vividly green that you’d swear the Crayola people invented the color just for this event.

“We actually went on the field right after we landed, and it was ridiculous,” UW tight end Lance Kendricks said. “It was like a golf field or something. I think they said they grow the grass year ’round and then they lay it.”

That’s about the size of it, but you don’t need to hold a degree in agronomy or even be Carl Spackler to appreciate it. All you really need to do is ride down Orange Grove Boulevard, past the bungalows of the rich and famous, until the loveliest sight in all of sports smacks you right between the eyes like a Gabe Carimi block.

The Badgers first arrived on this scene three times between 1952 and ’62, and it must have seemed like they would be back to bask in the grandeur on a regular basis. But then Vietnam happened, and people stopped caring about football in Madison. And then Barry Alvarez happened, and three more trips to paradise came and went.

It’s so good to see Granddaddy again. It’s been too long between visits.

Last updated: 3:43 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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