Of frozen butts and Hasselhoff

Notes from the Las Vegas Bowl

University of Arizon’s Terrell Turner celebrates a win over BYU during the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday, December 20, 2008.
Photo: Leila Navidi

It was the fourth straight BYU appearance at the Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday night; there’s always much ado about how the Utah fans turn out strong and bolster our little bowl game. And sure, on the way in, stuck in the muddy traffic of the parking lot, I saw plenty of Cougar paraphernalia on the bumpers of Chevrolet Suburbans and on the backs of small children strung hand-in-hand following their parents, who were all smart enough to bring hand-crocheted Cougar afghans, as the temperature was about 10 below zero. But it was mere seconds after deplaning from the Honda that I realized the Rabidly Fabulous Fan Award goes to Wildcat fans, try and fail as I might to be more objective about my alma mater, the University of Arizona, while wearing a U of A hat. It was cold. I don’t own a BYU hat.

Don't Hassel the Hoff

Two steps out of the car, I was in the middle of a U of A beer-pong game set up on folding tables in the parking lot. Minutes after that, I busted my foot on a misplaced case of Bud Light in the U of A RV section. Shortly, I encountered a drunk young man wearing red, white and blue (U of A!) shorts and a thin T-shirt—did I mention it was freezing?—working his way through a case of Natural Light on the curb while chiding BYU fans. And we weren’t even out of the parking lot. The Tucsonans showed up in reckless, joyous force.

In the official tailgate party zone, the story was even clearer: On the BYU side, children jumped around in those bouncy astro-jump air tents, next to a booth set up by Cumorah Credit Union. The grass was clean, and the blue-and-white Cougar chairs in their VIP tent had been pushed back under the tables neatly as the crowd moved to the stadium in a timely pre-kick-off fashion. On the U of A side: beer cans everywhere, a Bruce Springsteen cover band (oy!) still blaring, cocktail cups stacked one on top of another and hundreds of fans still bellowing “U of A!” randomly.

Inside the stadium, after I chiseled ice off of the bleacher seats and plunked my frozen butt down, a few more things became clear:

Austin Collie of BYU catches a pass while Devin Ross of the University of Arizona defends during the Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday.

Cougarettes may be brighter than Wildcat-ettes. Pre-game, the U of A cheerleaders were wearing skimpy outfits in the subarctic temps, while the Cougarettes were warmly snuggled in full-body jumpsuits. Smart. Soon, the Wildcat cheerleaders changed into something similar.

The necessary ingredients of a coin toss at the Las Vegas Bowl: team captains, referees ... and two sequin-bedecked showgirls with full headdresses. Vegas, baby!


Beyond the Weekly
David Hasselhoff
Arizona blasts BYU for first bowl victory in 10 seasons (Las Vegas Sun, 12/21/08)
Las Vegas Bowl live blog (Las Vegas Bowl, 12/20/08)
Breaking down the Las Vegas Bowl (12/19/08)

The national anthem: International recording and TV star and onetime Vegas resident ... wait for it ... David Hasselhoff! Looking every bit as Hasselhoffy as in your dreams, wearing a black leather jacket and combed curls; his appearance alone was worth $30. He belted out the national anthem like a semi-pro and tossed “Don’t hassle the Hoff” T-shirts to the crowd. Three guys in front of us changed their chant from “U-of-A” to “Hass-el-hoff!”

The U.S. Air Force jets flying overhead: Holy mother of God, duck! Air raid!

The first play: BYU was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct! BYU? First play!

One plastic bottle of Bud Light: $6

Hot dog: $4

Face painting: $1

To have had the common sense to bring something to sit on instead of the frozen bleachers: priceless!

The winners, as I see them: U of A won the game 31-21, go Wildcats! BYU gets the award for Most Prepared Fans, and if that surprises anyone, you’ve missed a lot of religious history. U of A fans get the award for best partying. David Hasselhoff gets the Vegas Comeback Award (he told an interviewer after the song, “People appreciate me”). And my butt gets the Anything for Important Journalism award.

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