The Orange Bowl is the weakest of the BCS bowls. Now I know why. The switch from the college Orange Bowl stadium to Pro Players Stadium and the cancellation of the Orange Bowl parade are indications that they are struggling. Certainly the BCS has more attractive venues available as the Peach Bowl in Georgia Stadium in Atlanta and the Capital One Bowl in Disney World's Orlando are viewed as better game locales.
However, I have no problem with the area as I had a great time in Fort Lauderdale. The area provided plenty of fun attractions. Hooters on the Beach, Dan Marino's 13 Bar & Grill on the Riverfront and every other restaurant were packed with Iowa fans having a good time. Although I hate to shop, a visit to the Fort Lauderdale flea market provided many bargains that I should have had before Christmas. A better name for the place might be Knock Off City as there were acres of imitation designer items.
The Riverboat Cruise in Fort Lauderdale was the highlight of the trip. The booze cruise afforded a Robin Leach like look at the lifestyles of the rich and famous. The homes of business leaders like Wayne Huizenga and television and movie stars like Lee Majors made for some interesting viewing. However, the most astounding item was the $70 million yacht owned by a businessman responsible for bringing Toyota cars to the United States. Now I fully understand the Toyota slogan, "You got it, Toyota!" because this guy really got it.
Because of the decline of the area surrounding Orange Bowl Stadium (where the University of Miami plays), the game was moved to Pro Player Stadium (where the Miami Dolphins play). There is zero character in the area as it is just a concrete stadium surrounded by an enormous parking lot.
The atmosphere before and during the game was unlike any college football game that I have ever attended. The desperation to sell this game in the past has caused the Orange Bowl Committee to develop an MTV mentality. Annoying rock music blared from loudspeakers before the game. Unfortunately, the same noise emanated from the loudspeakers between plays during the game. In addition the "Kiss Cam" was used to view fans doing ridiculous things on the Jumbotron screens. An annoying announcer who should share the same fate as Tony Soprano's enemies promoted all this idiocy. Badabing, badabing! This was not a college football atmosphere. The halftime show was an exercise in Hollywood foolery. God-awful! Hey Orange Bowl, ever hear of having college bands march around the field?
I suspected the Hawks could be in for a difficult time when I was checking into the hotel on New Year's Eve. A jogger came in to the lobby soaked from head to toe in sweat. I asked the panting man how far he had run. When he responded "Only a couple of miles because it's brutal out there", I suspected that the Black & Gold could be in for a long night. Humidity definitely played a factor in the Hawk's performance in the second half as the defense was "out of gas". That accentuated the speed of USC and allowed them in the second half to run all over the nation's second rated rushing defense.
The failure to score after having the ball on the USC one yard line at the end of the first half was certainly deflating to the defense after being on the field far too long in the first half. I had discussed sports psychology with Morrie Adams at dinner on New Year's Eve. Morrie works with athletes from several of the teams at Iowa. He said, "When you get to the high D-1 level, sports performance is 20 per cent physical and 80 per cent mental." Therefore, the mental aspect was reason # 2 for the second half demise. Of course, there was also the 48 day layoff.
This was a remarkable season that should in no way be diminished by the Orange Bowl result. This team is one for the ages at Iowa. They represented the state with an elegance and class both on the field and in all the media interviews. That is a direct reflection on Kirk Ferentz and his staff. Could Iowa have any head football coach that would make you prouder to be a Hawkeye? I think not!
Although the trip was a great time and experience, I am looking forward to going to a different bowl game next year. One that treats it like the college football game that it is.