The paparazzi and crowd are gathering outside Qualcomm Stadium’s Gate H for the inaugural Hollies and 2008 Pacific Life Holiday Bowl. The red carpet lies in wait for the plethora of Pacific Life Holiday Bowl greats who will be attending this grand event.
The first guests to arrive on the red carpet are Donny and Marie Osmond. Yes, the famed 70’s singing duo are nominated for Best National Anthem Performance. This category is strong, including contenders Lou Rawls and the Naval Academy Glee Club.
We have our first Hall of Famer sighting, a contingent from BYU featuring head coach LaVell Edwards, and quarterbacks Jim McMahon, Ty Detmer and Steve Young. BYU dominates the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl Hall of Fame with seven entrants. Edwards will also be receiving the Hollies Lifetime Achievement award for participating in 11 Holiday Bowls, the most ever by one head coach.
The City of San Diego is well represented in the Hollies. San Diego State University, which has only participated in the Holiday Bowl once, lost a close 39-38 contest to Iowa in 1986. Aztec quarterback Todd Santos was named the co-offensive MVP, along with Iowa QB Mark Vlasic. Joining Santos in the Best San Diego Connection Performance is Colorado State signal caller Moses Moreno (Castle Park H.S.) and cornerback Garcia Lane (Helix H.S.) of Ohio State.
A college football game or a red carpet celebration would not be complete without a marching band. The Pacific Life Holiday Bowl has featured some of the best bands in the country on its grand stage. Leading the popular Ohio State University Marching Band is its famed tuba, which is now dotting the “I” after the band spelled out the scripted “Ohio” on the red carpet. This maneuver is one of the finest traditions in college football.
Following the Ohio State band is the University of Wyoming Cowboy Marching Band. Why is this band in the spotlight you ask? Well, in 1987 they were short-changed in performing for a variety of reasons. First, the band was stranded overnight in the Denver airport by a snowstorm, arriving in San Diego a day late. Then, the truck hauling the band’s instruments to the game was stuck in traffic, preventing the band from performing in the pre-game show. So, to answer your question, the Hollies invited them back 21 years later to be involved and showcase their talents. Rounding out the nominees are the 1989 and 2006 Fightin’ Texas A&M Aggie Bands, the largest military marching band in the world; and the 2000 University of Texas Longhorn Band, also known as the “Showband of the Southwest.”
More celebrities are arriving on the red carpet. Sharlene Wells, 1984 Holiday Bowl queen and former Miss America returns to grace the proceedings. Wells also covered the game for three years as a sideline reporter for ESPN. Rock star Alice Cooper, who participated in the 1992 Holiday Bowl Hole-in-One Shootout and qualified for the final, smiles for the photographers. Is that Tina Turner over there? No, it is a Las Vegas impersonator who performed in the 1996 halftime show. “Up With People,” the intriguing entertainment group is back at the site where it had its final performance during the 2000 game. The Budweiser Clydesdales are prancing down the walkway. It is okay, a cleanup crew is right behind them if needed.
Famed coaches have strolled on the Qualcomm Stadium turf and now they are back on the red carpet. Nebraska head coach Frank Solich begins his journey down the carpet. Joe Paterno, Penn State’s current coach, is looking good for his age as he enters. Gaining popularity after his coaching career on television is former Indiana head coach Lee Corso. Pacific Life Holiday Bowl Hall of Fame member Hayden Fry led the University of Iowa to three bowl appearances in San Diego. Texas head coach Mack Brown and Kansas State boss Bill Snyder also return to the venue.
Dignitaries are always on display at such events and the Hollies are no different. John Reid, former Pacific Life Holiday Bowl Executive Director, who helped the game become one of the best in the nation, is here. Current Executive Director, Bruce Binkowski joins Reid for a photo opportunity. Behind that duo is a steady parade of past presidents and Red Coat members. The Pacific Life Holiday Bowl has grown to its current stature with the assistance and dedication of these wonderful people. Bob Breitbard, San Diego Hall of Champions founder and San Diego sports business marvel, receives a great ovation for his work with the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl.
The fun is in full swing with the entrance of the mascots and cheerleaders. More live animals are striding down the carpet. Bevo, the University of Texas longhorn, follows Ralphie, the University of Colorado buffalo. Both are deserving of winning the Hollie, but the Famous San Diego Chicken should steal the vote. The well-known feathered fowl had to overcome some animated exchanges with the Navy mascot goat before he tangled with stadium security who attempted to eject him from the sidelines due to not having the proper credentials. The security officers take a softer line and let the Chicken remain to entertain the appreciative crowd. Two mascots, Kansas State’s Wildcat and Washington’s Husky, were disqualified from the competition for being ejected for fighting on the sidelines in 1999. Not a stellar moment in mascot history.
The big award presentation to conclude the evening will be the Best Performance by a Team and parading onto the red carpet now are members of the 1980 BYU team, who will be joining Edwards and McMahon inside Qualcomm Stadium. With its stunning comeback BYU won probably one of the best bowl games of all time. Also representing the Cougars is the 1984 National Championship squad and rounding out this prestigious group is the 1990 Texas A&M Aggies for their 65-14 victory over BYU. The 51-point margin of victory is still the largest in Pacific Life Holiday Bowl history.
The action is winding down and it is time for the big show. We hope you have enjoyed this exciting trip down the red carpet of the first Hollies award show.