First, I had to get the schools to buy in. They wheeled out the lame excuses. They said (whining), "The kids will miss too much school." Wrong. USC players don't start back to school until the day after the game and LSU's don't return until a week later. They said (sniveling), "The kids will play too many games." Please. Oklahoma scrimmaged in pads twice last week. But when they heard they'd get $50 million each, almost four times what they got for the Rose and Sugar bowls, they said (thirstily), "The kids will be there!"
The players, meanwhile, were so pumped to play-this thing, they needed drool buckets. "To me, that'd be a great solution," said LSU receiver Michael Clayton. His teammate, quarterback Matt Mauck, said, "I'm available. Where?"
Well, why not stay right in New Orleans? The Superdome had nothing booked after the Sugar Bowl until the World of Wheels auto show (special appearance by the Coors Light Twins!) in 12 days, so they were in. "Let's tee it up!" said Superdome spokesman Bill Curl. And, hey, they'd only have to repaint one end zone!
It took some arm-hair pulling, but both coaches bought in, too. "I've heard people say you can't go down there and beat LSU" USC coach Pete Carroll said. "Well, that sounds like my kind of challenge."
Printing and distributing 79,000 tickets was a bitch, until Kinko's and FedEx merged last week. Then I needed a trophy twice as good as anything out there. But once I got NASA to perfect the first-ever office-orbiting diamond holosphere, I had something. And there was a problem with hotel rooms—a contortionists' convention was coming to town—but I got them to all move into one room.
I picked ABC to telecast the game because a) it offered the most money and b) it offered the rhost money. All the network had to do was move an episode of its hit (cough, cough) series 10-8. (Missed episode: Rico and Barnes capture a 20-foot python in an apartment!)
But I still needed to turn the one square in the Rubik's cube that makes it all flush: the NCAA, an organization so primitive that scientists study it from within glass enclosures, an organization so idiotic that it doesn't even recognize an NCAA Division I football champion. They don't even have a trophy for it!
I flew to Indianapolis, crawled down into the eight-foot-deep bunker that NCAA president Myles Brand barricades himself in and insisted he do the right thing for the sport. He agreed. Of course, seeing the check ABC had given me—$500 million for the next three IncrediBowls—didn't hurt any.
Should be a helluva tilt: LSU versus USC. Grits versus glitz. Po' boys versus rich boys.
You really ought to come. Etta James is going to start it off by belting out At Last before the game; Keith Jackson and Frank Broyles will be on the mikes, in honor of how many meaningless bowl games they had to call; and the Marines are bringing in a Harrier for the first-ever indoor flyby.