Entries in Oklahoma (3)


The Athletic: So many Rose Bowl memories, and Georgia and Oklahoma did their part to add to them

By Art Spander
Special to The Athletic

PASADENA, California — Not a bad Rose Bowl. For football. A lot of scoring. Several long runs by Georgia and Oklahoma. First overtime ever.

But no earthquakes. Or rain. Or card stunts or scoreboard mischief by students from good old Cal Tech, a school a few blocks away — or if you consider the chances of it ever playing in the game, a million miles away.

They’ve held the Bowl 104 times, which probably is long enough to earn the label traditional. I’ve been to the most recent 65 games, which also may be long enough to make me considered traditional. Or insane.

I started in 1954 A.D, Michigan State-UCLA (Spartans won 28-20) and haven’t stopped since. The way the swallows return to Capistrano each March from their winter grounds in Argentina thousands of miles away (or about the distance of Rodrigo Blankenship’s game-record field goal for Georgia), each January I return to the Rose Bowl. And why not?

There’s nothing like watching the sun set over the San Gabriel mountains east of the stadium. (Although Monday there was little sunshine, and plenty of haze).

Weather, mostly good, is so much a part of the Rose Bowl the late, great Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray would moan in print, “Oh no, not another beautiful day; another 20,000 Midwesterners will be moving here.”

I didn’t have to move. I’m an L.A. native. When I was a kid, L.A. didn’t have tall buildings, espresso stands or the Dodgers. It had movie stars and the Rose Bowl. I had no chance with the actress Jane Russell, so I signed up to sell programs at the game.

And year after year, as a West Coast guy, suffered while the Big Ten pummeled the western teams, taking 12 of the first 13 … Yikes!

That came to a halt when Jim Owens showed up at Washington and John McKay at USC. “What do you mean we’re not good enough?” McKay had told a reporter. Blush.

That song, “It Never Rains in Southern California”? Well, it’s rained on the Rose Bowl, if infrequently. The last time there was more than a mist, however, was 64 years ago, 1955. And it poured. So much so that Woody Hayes, the scourge of Columbus, whined about the USC band marching at halftime, even though Ohio State was able to march to a 20-7 victory. Days later cars were being towed out of the mud of the golf course which surrounds the bowl and is used as a parking lot.

Some people, like Hayes, who another New Year’s Day slugged photog Art Rogers, find disenchantment at the Rose Bowl.

Until the 1947 contract that matched champions of the Big Ten and Pacific Coast Conference, the Rose Bowl would bring in any Midwest or eastern school — Georgia in 1943 for example — to face one from the Coast.

UCLA wanted to play Army in that ’47 game, but was obligated to meet Illinois. Oh, the grumbling. Oh, the embarrassment. Illinois, with a back named Buddy Young running everywhere, won 45-14.

I’ve been attending the Rose Bowl so long I saw Cal (or as Millenials call it, UC Berkeley). Play in the Rose Bowl. Really. That was 1959. Before the Free Speech Movement.

Joe Kapp was the Golden Bears quarterback. He didn’t play defense. No one played defense for Cal, which had a 178-pound tackle, Pat Newell. “We’re going to make a freeway over him,” Forrest Evashevski, the Iowa coach, supposedly said. The Hawkeyes did that, Bob Jeter running for TDs and Iowa winning, 38-12.

A couple of years later, 14 of those future physicists from Cal Tech infiltrated the rally committee planning the card stunts for Washington before the 1961 Rose Bowl against Minnesota. So the card stunts included SEIKSUH.(Huskies spelled backward) and CALTECH. In 1984, when UCLA met Illinois, some other Cal Tech kids took over. It was hysterical, if you weren’t UCLA, Illinois or a Rose Bowl official.

“Granddaddy of them all,” is the copyrighted slogan the Rose Bowl people use to remind us it was in first in the business. I’ll raise a glass to that and to epic Rose Bowl played the opening day of 2018.

Copyright 2018 The Athletic


Newsday (N.Y.): Georgia outlasts Oklahoma in Rose Bowl to reach title game

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

PASADENA, Calif. — You might say the national college football championship semifinal in that most historic of stadiums Rose to the occasion. In the end, so did the University of Georgia.

The third-ranked Bulldogs verified their nickname Monday night by coming back from repeated deficits to beat second-ranked Oklahoma, 54-48, in two overtimes and advance to the championship final.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2018 Newsday. All rights reserved.


Nova defense stops Oklahoma sooner and later

By Art Spander

HOUSTON — It’s a team game. Sure, that’s the cliché of basketball, but it’s also the reality. Another reaffirmation came Saturday night in the Final Four.

Oklahoma had the Player of the Year, Buddy Hield. The man scores from everywhere. Or, as in the semifinal against Villanova, from nowhere. Hield did hit a three-pointer in the opening half-minute, giving everyone the impression he and the Sooners were on their way.

To oblivion, it turned out.

Villanova, shooting 77 percent in the second half, 17 of 22 from the field, and 71 percent for the game, got Oklahoma sooner and later, winning 95-51.

“I thought they popped us there in the first half, and we didn’t respond very well to that,” said OU coach Lon Kruger. “We came out with a little better fight to start the second half. Villanova withstood that, then popped us again.”

And hard. But that’s nothing new for Villanova, the school in the tony suburbs of Philadelphia’s Main Line. It was virtually a repeat performance for Nova, using the term loosely, unlike the defense Villanova plays. No looseness there.

Thirty-one years ago, 1985, in the NCAA final, the Wildcats made 17 of 28 shots, nine of 10 in the second half, and upset Georgetown.

In this final, Monday against North Carolina, which defeated Syracuse in the other semi, Nova also will be an underdog. That might mean something. Or mean zilch.

“They made shots, and we didn’t,” said Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins, and could a result be described more simply than that?

“Everything just fell apart, even when we got stops.”

What stopped was Oklahoma’s intensity. They’d miss — the Sooners shot a pathetic 31 percent, 19 of 60, and Hield had nine points, one of eight on threes — and then Villanova would sweep down the court. It was a classic example of what coaches have been teaching forever: defense sets up the offense.

“We were just trying to find a rhythm how to stop them,” said Hield. “I feel early in the second half we got a rhythm. After that, missed a rebound, (Josh) Hart got it up, got a three-point play, momentum went back their way. They played really well today. One of the best teams I ever played in college.

“They made it tough on me, throwing a bunch of bodies at me. Just couldn’t get it going.”

Brilliant strategy by Villanova coach Jay Wright, whose Cats are now 34-5. Brilliant execution from the “bodies,” particularly Hart, Kris Jenkins and Ryan Arcidiacono.

Hield is from the Bahamas, a senior who chose to stay four years in the hope of winning an NCAA championship. That can never be, but at least he made it to the sport’s last weekend. Now he’ll end up with on the NBA’s last-place teams, perhaps the awful 76ers. The Philly nightmare may continue, if in a different way.

“Villanova dictated everything,” said Kruger, the OU coach. “They were up into us the first half. We didn’t rip it strong and attack. We were playing laterally instead of downhill.”

Instead of going to the basket, but how can you go when there are defenders everywhere you look?

Asked if he’d ever seen a game like this, Kruger philosophized. “Oh, it’s happened, I’m sure,” he said, “but I don’t like being a part of it ... You’d like to think you can stand up and change that. We weren’t able to.”

Villanova was prepared, yet preparation doesn’t always mean success. Every time the Golden State Warriors play, the other team is prepared to stop Stephen Curry. But it’s rare when the plans work. They definitely worked for Villanova against Hield, who had averaged 29 points in the four tournament games leading to the semi.

“We were watching film on how good Buddy is,” said Arcidiacono, “We knew he would take and make tough shots. We tried to keep fresh bodies on him, tried to make him take tough, contested shots. If just happened he didn’t make them tonight.”

It just happened that Villanova, with Hart scoring 23 points, on 10 of 12, did make them.

“I’m happy,” said Wright, the Nova coach, “we had one of those games where we just make every shot. Kind of similar to our (December) game in Hawaii against Oklahoma. They made everything, we made nothing.”

There was difference, a huge difference. This one was to make the national finals.