One perk for Penn State University players, coaches and fans who have already arrived in Southern California for the New Year's Day Rose Bowl is the traditional Disneyland visit, which is Friday. After all, who wouldn't want to escape the weather in University Park, PA (current temperature: 23 degrees) for the always sunny Magic Kingdom (Friday's forecast: 58 degrees, partly cloudy--in other words, blizzard conditions to Orange Countians)?
Indeed, as the 95th Rose Bowl will pit the BCS-ranked No. 8 Nittany Lions against a 'SC team that could be much better than its No. 5 ranking, "Penn State's best moment in LA will be when the team visits Disneyland," a chap named Dereck comments on Fanhouse. "Otherwise, the Trojans will dismantle Grandpa Joe's team. 49-14 USC."
Grandpa Joe would be Penn State's legendary coach, Joe Paterno, who joins USC coach Pete Carroll and players from both teams in gathering at 2 p.m. Friday in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle, which hopefully does not portend a sleepy football game. Rose Bowl-bound teams have been meeting first at Walt Disney's place since 1959, and this ceremony is hosted by Disneyland prez Ed Grier, Mickey Mouse and the Disneyland Band. After a break for media interviews, players and coaches hop aboard bobsleds and hit the Matterhorn.
This is the third trip to Pasadena for the Nittany Lions and the 33rd Rose Bowl for the Trojans, which may explain why some 'SC players are bored with what they consider monotonous fest-Disney-ties. "This will be my fourth one," senior wide receiver Patrick Turner tells ESPN magazine. "We've done a lot of the same activities. It could be a sense of guys wanting to see something different. But we're going to make it fun and make the best of it."
Of course, Turner is still bummed the Trojans aren't going to the Orange Bowl for the national championship game, something that also must tick-off ultra-competitive USC quarterback Mark Sanchez (pictured). But the pride of Mission Viejo High and Aug. 22 Weekly cover boy is down with the pre-game action, which includes a trip to the ESPN Zone at Downtown Disney, a comedy show at Hollywood's Improv and the traditional Beef Bowl at Lawry's Prime Rib, where the teams square off in a meat-eating competition.
"I'll win the Beef Bowl," Sanchez says with confidence. "And at Disneyland, I'm tackling Mickey." Perhaps that's just Fantasyland thinking by Sanchez, something Philadelphia Inquirer sports columnist Frank Fitzpatrick engaged in when he dreamed up Paterno's entire day at the Happiest Place on Earth. After an assistant coach informs his elderly boss that they have arrived at Disneyland, Paterno says ...
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"Disneyland. It's a famous amusement park."
"Disneyland. Schmiznyland. What do I know from amusement parks? Back in Brooklyn we had Coney Island. My father, who was a Democrat, would take me and George and the Bisconti twins there on Sundays when we should have been at Mass. Did I tell you Vince Lombardi lived a block away? Kids today don't read The Aenid. What the heck is that goofy-looking thing with the big ears?"
"That's Goofy, Coach."
It certainly is.