Pregame Guesses: Holiday Bowl Edition

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

With the last game of the season tomorrow, the author (once again) reflects on the past season and tries to decide what it all means. For his family, it means a lot.

rocket from the crypt - when in rome - live - 1998 (via whatdoidonow1996)

Battalion of Saints A.D. - No Time 3-14-96 (via kenortman23)

(We have two videos to cap off the season. Up top is a live performance from Rocket from the Crypt and the second video is from Battalion of Saints. These are the first two bands I think of when I think of San Diego.)

First things first – this is the final Pregame Guesses of 2012.

The next time I write this column will be a National Letter of Intent Day edition and I’ll probably do something for spring practice and that will be that until next year. I have to say, I’ve enjoyed writing the guesses column quite a bit this year and I want to thank everyone who read and responded, both with answers to the guesses and with comments on the content of each post. It’s been a pleasure interacting with everyone and I’m already excited about next season.

I’m writing this on Christmas morning. My kids are still asleep and in a few minutes they’ll wake up and open some presents.

It’s not as charming as you think. My kids are pretty much grown – they aren’t about to coming running out here in pajamas with feet wearing face-busting smiles, burying everything in my living room under an avalanche of wrapping paper as leap from book to video game to building blocks – tossing the socks and t-shirts into a corner pile for mom and dad to sort through later. At this point, they’re actually more interested in the jeans and sweaters and, yeah, the gift certificates. It’s still cute, but watching high school students open up envelopes and decided which ball cap or sneakers they plan to buy isn’t quite the same scene.

But thinking about the kids gave me pause – one more chance to reflect on this season. (Don’t worry – I know I’ve gone through season at least twice already – I won’t walk you through the week-by-week again, in fact, I’m going to cut this short as soon as the family wakes up.)

My younger son, in particular, has been troubled by the weakness of the UCLA football program for the decade leading up to this season. He’s the more competitive of the two boys. The older one roots for the Bruins, of course, but he’s more likely to just do something else when the team is going bad. In that sense, he’s more like me – more likely to just participate less when a season goes south, instead of getting down, walking around dwelling on what’s gone wrong. No, the younger won is more like his mom – unable to concentrate when her team is getting beat. She turns off Dodgers games when the team is losing and even more so, turns off Giants games if they are winning.

She hates SC much more than I do.

The younger son has suffered a great deal the last 10 year or so. He’s the one ways "we" when referring to UCLA. He’s the one who’s been losing bets to his SC friends ever year. He’s the one who won’t back down when the Trojan-youth.

(Just saw/heard a promo for the Holiday Bowl on ESPN while waiting for the Nets and Celtics game to start. When they mentioned "UCLA" my wife yelled "Wooo!!! We’re going to the game!!! – Just sayin’.)

So, in a way, one of the best parts of this season for me was watching it through the younger son’s eyes. See, I’ve always got the memories of my college days, the three Rose Bowls and the Fiesta Bowl. I remember when UCLA football consistently finished in the Top 15 and sometimes in the Top 10 or 5.

He had nothing.

He had 10 wins in 2005 – which turned him into such a Maurice Jones-Drew fan that we once stood for over two hours on line in the El Segundo Chick’s to get MJD to scrawl his name on a replica jersey. He had 13-9, which really only provided a one year respite from the red and yellow crap he has to take at school.

But this season was a gift to him – probably a better gift than anything he’s open to tear open. This season was a gift because it didn’t feel like a fluke. The high school bullshit he endures ended long before the win over USC. That was just cherry on the icing on the cake. No, he wore blue and gold proudly to school all football season long because it became clearer and clearer all year that 2012 was different.

You have to remember, except for the fluky 2005 season, UCLA football hasn’t been respectable in his lifetime – or at least his memory. From his perspective, we’re not returning to form, we’re good for the first time.

That’s the main reason we’re taking the whole family to the Holiday Bowl. I honestly wasn’t sure I wanted to spend what is going to end up a grand or more for one night in San Diego; I’ve been to San Diego lots of times. It’s nice, but I’d have picked somewhere else if I had my choice of vacations. But like Christmas mornings, the memories are more valuable than money. I wanted to have the experience of taking my boys to a bowl game.

I want this to be the start of a new family tradition.

~ ~ ~

I suppose I should say something about the actual game tomorrow. But I’m not sure what is left. Others on the site have done a good job recapping what to expect and going over the strengths and weaknesses of the Baylor Bears.

So, that’s done.

So, I think I’ll just take a moment to thank the seniors for hanging with the program during the down years. I’m so happy that guys like Johnathan Franklin, Joe Fauria, Jeff Locke, Jeff Baca, Sheldon Price, Aaron Hester, Andrew Abbott and the rest got this chance to go to San Diego and play in the Holiday Bowl. No matter what happened in past seasons, I – we, never blamed the players. They are our guys. They live in the same dorms we lived in, walk the same hallways we walked, sit in the same classrooms. They’ve even been graded by some of the same professors who graded Achilles’ term papers. They are our family, too.

They deserve tomorrow and that’s why my family will be in San Diego cheering for our Bruin family.

You all are my family, too. Thanks for spending 2012 with me. It’s been a lot of fun.

And with that, here are your Pregame Guesses, Holiday Bowl edition:

  1. True or False: The time of game for the Holiday Bowl will exceed 4 hours.
  2. How many total touchdowns will be scored by both teams combined?
  3. What number will be higher: Johnathan Franklin's total yards rushing or Joe Fauria's receiving yards times two?
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