Game Review: New Mexico State Aggies vs. UCLA Bruins, 9/21/2013; 7:30PM, PT
Weather: ‘70’s and cool; Ticket Price $40 Face, Scalper $15.
“The Haves and Haves Not” by Tree
The Rose Bowl sits in a valley in suburban Pasadena. It is a well-organized venue in a picturesque setting. There were a number of attractions set up with vendors outside the stadium. Vendor tents had plenty of activities for the kids and adults. I am not sure if UCLA does this for every game, but it made up for what appeared to be a tepid tailgating scene. There was a strong presence by local law enforcement keeping the scene safe and orderly. This seemed to scare away the scalpers and making it difficult to snag a discounted ticket. I was not looking to pay face value for the public beating that I knew Bruins were planning to administer even if it was only $25. Luckily, an usher approached me to see I needed a ticket. After some negotiating, we landed on $15 and it still felt like I overpaid.
Concessions ring the stadium, and it is well landscaped with walkways and bridges. Inside it is fairly pedestrian but has solid sight lines and good video. Despite seating over 90,000, the stadium did not feel that big.
There was a choreographed entrance of the team entering the stadium on the scoreboard, but the whole production just took too long. I have seen several stadiums where the entrance was more dramatic, specifically Va. Tech and Fresno State. The fan base was strong, but it was actually off putting given how weak the competition was.
As this game was part of a three game weekend, I headed directly to Pasadena from the USC game via the Metro. It could not have been an easier trip. Once I arrived in swanky Pasadena, I walked around the high end shops and grabbed a burger to kill some time. I was looking to buy some UCLA gear, but the one shop I found had hats starting at $25. This area was no place for bargains. It oozed conspicuous wealth. It made for an odd mix seeing UCLA fans in jeans and t-shirts mingling with the upper crust in their designer clothes and Louis Vuitton bags. Considering I had started the day at the Metro station in Compton, Pasadena felt like a different world. There were no signs of poverty or struggle in these folks.
The Rose Bowl has very limited parking so they run free shuttles from Pasadena which were clean and comfortable. The exit from the game was as easy as the entrance and despite leaving the game early I found myself on the Metro at nearly midnight. I was feeling a little uncomfortable knowing that nothing good happens after midnight. I had to switch Metro lines in the city center but missed the stop the first time because I was talking college football with a couple of Bruin alums. It was when I back-tracked to my stop that things got interesting. I was standing on the platform waiting for a train when a tall, skinny white guy with tats and a wife beater coming up the steps saw me. I still happened to be wearing a USC Trojan hat from earlier in the day. As he approached, he said “I hate *&$%ing USC, motherf*&%er – let’s go!” While I hadn’t heard anything that harsh at the UCLA game, I had taken some ribbing from the Bruins fans. Similarly I assumed this guy was just giving me a hard time, and since I was not a USC fan/alum, I just smiled at him. Evidently, this piece of white trash was semiserious because he gave me a solid shove in the back as he walked by. It caught me completely by surprise and I decided the most prudent thing was just to ignore him. Fortunately, this guy was more drunk than anything else and he promptly sat down on a bench and passed out. The rest of the ride was uneventful and I made back to my brother’s place safe and sound.
This game was a blow-out from the first snap. New Mexico State game in riding a 15 game losing streak and did not figure to change their fortunes against UCLA. To make matters worse, UCLA was memorializing Dan Pasquale, a player who had recently been killed in an automobile accident, and the Bruins were not sharing any sympathy for the Aggies. If not for the opportunity to pick up three stadiums in one weekend, this was the kind of game I would normally avoid. UCLA ran, threw and generally just beat up New Mexico State the entire game. I understand this was a half a million payday for Mexico State. I hope it was worth it.
Half time was highlighted by a massive choreography of dozens of local cheerleading teams but it wasn’t nearly as entertaining as the show in the seats next to me. There were a couple of female fans who looked like they worked in another “Valley” in L.A. that was famous for entertainment of a more adult variety. The women started to dance along with the cheerleaders. However, their moves did not match the G-rated display on the field. They were bumping and grinding away on each other which thrilled both the teenage boys on my right and the young male UCLA alums to my left. All they needed was a pole and it would have been raining dollar bills.
The ladies, and I use that term very loosely, had been flirting with UCLA guys for some time and the dancing seemed to seal the deal. One brave soul threw caution to the wind and headed on over to sit with them. Things were going exceedingly well for our intrepid hero until the female contingent of his college crew showed up. They quickly sized up the situation and decided to rescue Biff from the certain moral corruption he was facing. It took a great deal of cajoling to pry him away from the tight jeans and ample cleavage of his new friends, but eventually he returned to his college chums. I couldn’t help but note at least a small look of regret on his face as he passed me. It was probably was for the best as he was likely to be as under matched in the bedroom with those girls as New Mexico State was with UCLA on field that night.