JoePa meets Mickey
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Welcome to Disneyland, where everyone smiles, even the guy who has to clean up after Goofy. In this land of make-believe, Penn State stands out like a black-and-white movie at your local cineplex. In fact, the Nittany Lions' blue-and-white colors are so East Coast.
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Welcome to Disneyland, where everyone smiles, even the guy who has to clean up after Goofy.
In this land of make-believe, Penn State stands out like a black-and-white movie at your local cineplex. In fact, the Nittany Lions' blue-and-white colors are so East Coast.
But that didn't stop Mickey Mouse from wearing Penn State-colored pants. He did, however, don a red-and-white shirt - supposedly in honor of Southern Cal's cardinal and gold.
When Penn State coach Joe Paterno made his opening remarks, he mistakenly said it was great to be back at Disney World. It was a common mistake, made by plenty of people who don't care about overpriced theme parks on the two coasts.
"Am I supposed to read something here or what?" Paterno said to rounds of laughter.
The 82-year-old coach did not. He expressed his gratitude for being here, and made a crack that he had been here 150 years ago. That would not be accurate, of course. Disneyland opened in 1955.
"I'm older than the chairman of the Rose Bowl," Paterno said of Corky Conzonire.
Penn State's last appearance in the Rose Bowl was in 1995. Many things have changed, but one has not. The parade held the morning of the game is still the Granddaddy of Them All.
Before the coaches and players were even announced at the media day, the parade got its due - as did the six Rose Bowl princesses and the queen, who cupped their hands and waved to the masses. Everyone smiled.
Paterno then made his gimpy entrance with the Lions' four captains - Josh Gaines, Derrick Williams, A.Q. Shipley and Anthony Scirrotto. Williams, apparently thinking this was something worth filming, walked on stage with a camcorder.
Said Scirrotto, "I've never been to California and always wanted to. It's a blessing and a great opportunity to be able to play in this game and be out here."
The weather has been downright frigid, the locals say here as they slather on the tanning oil. In the 50s. Wow, take that South Philly.
"I think we have an ice storm back home," Scirrotto said. "It's freezing there. We're not used to this at this time of the year. It's just amazing. We pulled up in Santa Monica, we're staying on the beach. Then riding over to practice, you see snow-topped mountains.
"I love things like that. I love to go to the beach, and I've been skiing all my life. So it's the best of both worlds here."
Southern Cal coach Pete Carroll entered the stage to a respectful ovation. The youthful-looking 57-year-old coach is beloved in these parts. He did his best to fire up the crowd of onlookers, but this is L.A., after all, and the game is still six days away.
As Paterno and Carroll accepted Mickey Mouse replica trophies, a thought sprung to mind: Who was injected with more drugs? Paterno because of his hip or Carroll because of the botox?
Paterno, though, is still a marvel to his peers. The coaching icon just received a three-year contract extension, and Carroll didn't even know the contents of his deal.
"I'm going to try to make it next year," Carroll said. "I don't know how he does it."
Carroll also joked that Paterno wanted to fight him after he told the old coach that two opposing coaches got into a fight in the 1920s. Now that would be a scene.
And with that, the teams were off to ride the teacups or the tilt-a-whirl or some ride that adults should only try when accompanied by their young children.
A handful of Penn State fans that ventured west then began a "We are . . . Penn State" cheer. It was quickly doused by boos. Apparently, there was a little bit of the East Coast in Disneyland.