It was a dark and dreary Nov. 17th pre dawn morning. We had agreed to wake up at 5:20am and be out of the house at 5:30 in order to meet our tailgating party at the Von's in Pasadena near the Rose Bowl. At that time there was no rain. The rain would eventually put it's mark on the entire day. We reached the Von's parking lot after struggling through some very early Rose Bowl traffic; half of the people we arrived with ran into the Starbucks for a nice warm cup of 'Wake Up.'
At about 7am we were parked and setting our tailgate up. About 8am the rain began. It was not bad. Just a persistent drizzle that did not let up. It did not dampen spirits. We grilled pancakes, eggs and sausages in huge quantities. We were expecting over 40 people and by the time the game started, we had hosted and fed more than that. The UCLA Men's Rowing team showed up. The lead organizer was on the team and is still close to them. I was told the Women's Rowing team was coming, but I don't know if they ever did. I know there was a lot of people.
By 9am the rain had everybody seeking the shelter of our canopies and I'm sure some had to do in the shade of nearby trees. But, that did not keep them from eating and drinking mimosas. One of the guys set up an omelet station and he got busy. The requests kept coming. That's about when '66 and his group of awesome people joined us; Steve, Denise, John, and Mayo. Great people every last one of them. John brought deviled eggs and they were gone in moments.
Soon after we headed in to the Rose Bowl and by now we were soaked; the persistent drizzle overwhelming our rain coat's defenses. Then the opening play got us on our feet. Then we scored. And scored again, and scored again. Our section was rocking. Trojans had nothing to say. The game had jumped up and disappointed them before they even had a shot, and the ever present water could not have helped. They huddled in their rain coats while fighting off visions of ignominious defeat, little knowing how futile both endeavors would ultimately prove.
After the game, 5 of us sat in my living room and re-watched the game from the DVR. Somethings come across better on TV, but it also misses a lot. If you watched on TV, you did not see how pumped up our players were on the sidelines, hopping up and down, pumping each other up and inviting the crowd to play along. You did not see how stone faced their players were from the very outset. They never responded when our players got jumping and bumping as they did during 13-9. You also do not get the sense of the ever present rain. Not until the 2nd half. Speaking of which, one thing you probably missed if you watched on TV was that during the resurgent Trojan come back attempt, for 4-5 possession, it rained hard every time we got the ball then stopped raining altogether when they got the ball. In my recollection the second half was all about the refs and weather conspiring to give them the game. A game they had not earned. And, one of my biggest points of pride about it all was how well our guys, our coaches, and our fans soldiered on through it all. They took Barr's first sack away on some BS call, but he would not be deterred. The stat sheets will say 1 sack on Barkley. But, I imagine he feels both hits today.
After we clinched the win: Then did it again thanks to the refs. Then again, because the refs seemed to think it was important the Sanctioned Cheaters get one more score on the board. We took in the grand spectacle that unfolded before us and we no longer cared how soaked we were. The players ran and climbed into the Student Section. The Mayor took the stand right in front of us and taking hold of a UCLA Alumni banner, waved it and got us into an 8 clap. We cheered in the tunnel on the way out: UC! LA! followed by #soundslikeboom. Outside in the concourse, nobody but the Trogans cared about being soaked. Everybody walked around high fiving complete strangers and joining impromptu cheers. We uncovered our heads and reveled in the rain. The ever present rain.
We would gingerly pick our way through a sea of Rose Bowl mud, stopping at one point to help a truck that had become stuck. 66, having lived in snow country, was the first to think of sticking something under the rain soaked tire. We rocked it, and pushed it and got it moving again.
Every where, young men cavorted shirtless in the rain. There was many a group still playing football in the rain. And some took out their canopies and began to grill again. In the rain.
That sweet, sweet and ever present reign.