While I did not ride in a cigarette boat (partly because of my paralyzing fear of swimming), transport a kilo of cocaine to a Cuban hotel or wear leather pants and dance with men in South Beach I feel as if I received the Miami experience in its entirety.
Forget the game for a second and let me tell you about New Year's Eve on a VIP $200 a person rooftop party at the Sagamore Hotel in South Beach. Pouring rain, girls swinging their shirts over their shoulders and me a horrible and filthy voyeur with a rainwater scotch and soda. How about a reggae concert with Capelton and Anthony B on an Indian reservation at 4 in the morning surrounded by Haitians and Jamaicans calling for the death of the white man and shooting guns in the air. It was possibly one of the most exhilirating and enjoyable nights of my life. Whenever you go to a concert and they sell Guiness out of a cooler in the corner you know you're gonna have a good time. Though my waiter, a Jamaican man named Denson, told me it probably wouldn't be my kind of crowd I ignored his wishes and I'm glad I did. We had a laugh about it the next evening at the bar.
How about the team hotel? A 1,000 room brand new resort jutting out over the Atlantic Ocean with Hawaii-style pool and bar areas and hidden hot tubs....that's all I need to say about that. My shower had three shower heads, I had no idea where to look or where the water was coming from. I tried desperately to tell the young guys on the team not to get used to these deluxe accomodations. I tried to explain my six years in USC football obscurity with only a trip to El Paso to claim but I kind of get the feeling this team is going to be getting BCS treatment for years to come.
While I felt as if I was stealing (and I was because I did enjoy a wonderful trip) the USC team, the coaches, the coaches families, people in the administration and everybody involved with USC athletics deserved this trip and the great time that they had.
What could be a better time than watching this years team? They seemed to me and many other studiosly informed college football fans to be the toughest team to beat in the country right now. Are grades really necessary anymore? Of course the answer to this rhetorical question is no. I'm not sure an "A" grade would even describe what the players and coaches for this team truly deserve. From a Heisman winner to a great and young new coach to an embattled and persevering strong safety this years USC team was just a pleasure to watch each week. All this praise tends to sound redundant after a while and I guess if you like negativity this year has not been a lot of fun. For me, I've got to call it like I see it and this team just had everything come together at the right time with everybody out there performing at a near-perfect level. The last six or seven weeks of the season have been nothing but praise for this praise worthy team and always remember that they won with an unbelievable defense, attention to the necessity of the run game, a confident quarterback and a relentlessly energetic coach with two brilliant coordinators.
Now that the season ends my car turns back into a pumpkin and my microphone into a bottle opener as I will be waiting tables at my fathers restaurant until next fall. I will check in periodically with some stories about angry customers and perhaps some self-loathing debacles at local San Pedro bars. I'd like to thank everybody who read the column this season (next year it will be better) and I'd like to thank the USC football team and Garry Paskwietz for letting me be around and be a part of things. It's be a great time. Fight On. Petros.