Rose Parade, big football bowls on Jan. 2 this year

12/31/2011 12:00 AM

12/27/2012 9:05 PM

Somewhere in TV land, in the bleary morning after the revelry of New Year's Eve, some confused soul will rise Sunday expecting to see the Rose Parade and enough college bowl games to sink the couch.

But this year – and every five to 11 years when Jan. 1 falls on a Sunday – the shocked viewer will discover neither a parade nor a feast of college football.

He will rage against the dying of a New Year's Day ritual. He will curse the National Football League for asserting its dominion over pigskin on Sundays. He will bellow about college football's oligarchy, the Bowl Championship Series, which picks teams for a title game and governs exclusive bowl bids like invites to a royal wedding.

But the reason there won't be college football on New Year's Day this year – and why the Rose Parade and six bowl games will air instead on Monday, Jan. 2 – may have more to do with horses in Pasadena on Sunday, Jan. 1, 1893.

That was when the Tournament of Roses, which staged the first Rose Parade in 1890, imposed a "never on Sunday" rule in fear that the procession would spook horses tethered outside local churches and disrupt worship services with bedeviling gallops.

The Rose Bowl football game, held once in 1902 and resumed annually in 1916, also signed on to the no-Sunday edict. So did the Sugar and Orange bowls, starting in 1935, the Cotton Bowl in 1937, and the Fiesta Bowl, which became a Jan. 1 event in 1982.

The 2012 New Year's bowl schedule will mark the 14th time since 1922 that Jan. 1 college games – and the Rose Parade – have been moved because of the Sunday policy.

The last time it took place was in 2006. That year, in an added twist, the Rose Parade went off on Jan. 2 but the Rose Bowl game – between USC and Texas – wasn't played until Jan. 4 because it was designated as the BCS Championship contest.

"A lot of people just traditionally think of the Rose Bowl game and parade on Jan. 1, and it took a lot to get people to understand," said Libby Evans Wright, who served as the 2006 Tournament of Roses president. "We actually had people showing up on the street on Jan. 1 asking, 'Where is the parade?' "

This year, promoters of the Rose and other bowls are staging media events and putting out public service announcements to let fans know they can sleep off hangovers before watching their college teams in action a day later.

"Don't forget, it's Jan. 2," the current Tournament of Roses president, Richard Jackson, said Tuesday as the Oregon Ducks and Wisconsin Badgers gathered at Disneyland to kick off Rose Bowl week.

"It's seems really weird," said James Bresci, a bartender at Clubhouse 56, an upstart sports tavern in east Sacramento that will open at 9 a.m. Monday to serve "man plates" of tri-tip, pork ribs and hot links to hungry college football fans. "We hope we've built up enough clientele that they know we're here and the games will be on."

The once-hallowed Jan. 1 lineup of Rose, Cotton, Sugar and Orange bowls has led to this year's Jan. 2 TV offerings including the likes of the Gator Bowl, the TicketCity Bowl and the Capital One Bowl. Six bowls are on Monday and others over ensuing days leading to the Jan. 9 BCS Championship game between LSU and Alabama.

At Mandango's Sports Bar & Grill in Roseville, manager Scott Ashley figures it is all good for business.

His regulars will pack the place for a New Year's Eve party Saturday and straggle in Sunday for NFL games and breakfast recovery feasts of French toast, omelettes and five varieties of eggs Benedict.

Then Monday, for the Jan. 2 bowl games, he'll serve Green Lizard melon drinks for green-clad Oregon Ducks fans booing Wisconsin's Badgers. He'll have Cardinal-red raspberry liquor on hand for Stanford partisans savoring their Fiesta Bowl showdown with Oklahoma State.

A day later, he'll offer Blue Curaçao liqueur for local "Big Blue" Michigan fans watching the Jan. 3 Sugar Bowl game against Virginia Tech.

"It's good for us as a sports bar and restaurant because it extends the season," Ashley said. "It's not just bowl games on New Year's Day anymore."

It isn't the breach of tradition that is killing Ruben Mendoza, 37, a Sacramento farm habitat manager and die-hard Oregon Ducks fan. It's the extra day of "being nervous and thinking about the game" before the Jan. 2 kickoff.

Mendoza has set out his black Ducks hat, yellow polo shirt and green "O" socks to watch the Rose Bowl at the Clubhouse Bar & Grill, a watering hole for Oregon fans.

New Year's Day or not, he will stick with his rituals.

"I always wear my hat backward in the first quarter. I always start with a small beer," he said. "At halftime, I switch to the 32-ouncer. Then I realize whether we're doing well or I'm just going to drink our sorrows away.

"I've got my own traditions."

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