A bit of Americana came to Plaza Monumental in Juarez the other evening. . . .
The wave was performed in the stands at a bloodless bullfight staged for the USC and Michigan State football teams. . . .
The bulls at first refused to cooperate, but eventually appeared in the corrida , one of many events held in conjunction with what the local citizenry likes to call “America’s Fun Bowl.”. . .
Not long ago, it was also known as the Sun Bowl. But now it is the John Hancock Bowl, primarily because John Hancock Financial Services kicks in $1.5 million a year. . . .
The Trojans and Spartans have been treated to team breakfasts, luncheons, dinners and snacks, police escorts and a tour of a boot factory as well as the bullfight. . . .
In return, they will be asked to entertain today in the nation’s second oldest bowl game, a fixture since the El Paso All-Stars nudged Ranger, Tex., 25-21, on New Year’s Day of 1935. .
USC Coach Larry Smith, who said last week that he had no idea who would start at quarterback, made the shocking revelation Sunday that it would be Todd Marinovich. . . .
Marinovich has missed some practices because of an ear infection, but backups Pat O’Hara and Reggie Perry each have missed taking snaps in 11 of 12 games. . . .
The other Trojan quarterback, Shane Foley, was charged with being drunk and disorderly Christmas Eve in Newport Beach. . . .
Little-known fact: Michigan State finished in a four-way tie with Iowa, Illinois and Michigan for the Big Ten championship this season. . . .
In a consolation prize bowl like this, the cliche fits. The team that wants it the most usually wins. . . .
Smith on USC’s attitude: “I was concerned at first, but after practicing and looking at the Michigan State films, I think I’ve got the players’ attention. A bowl victory is a great way to end a season and begin the next.” . . .
USC is 19-8 in the Rose Bowl, but only 3-3 in other bowls. . . .
Michigan State, which plays its home games on artificial turf, brought shoes with basketball-type soles. USC sent out a last-minute order for some, but only 30 pair had arrived by Sunday. . . .
The weather can change quickly here this time of year, but clear skies and temperatures in the low 50s are expected at kickoff time. . . .
There was a white Christmas in El Paso in 1987 when Oklahoma State beat West Virginia, 35-33. USC would have played Oklahoma State if the Trojans hadn’t beaten UCLA to win the Rose Bowl bid. . . .
USC and Michigan State each will receive $900,000, but must share it with other conference schools after taking expenses off the top. . . .
The Hancock Bowl can’t be accused of thinking big. It’s trying to sign a contract that would bring the Big Ten’s fourth -place team to El Paso every December. . . .
Collector’s items: Thirty dozen Hancock Bowl T-shirts show the matchup as being the USC Trojans against the Michigan Wolverines. . . .
During the Trojans’ final practice Saturday, Marinovich wore the No. 83 jersey of wide receiver Gary Wellman and imitated him raising his arms after a touchdown catch. . . .
Wellman--small, swift and tough--would be an ideal target for ex-teammate Rodney Peete in the Detroit Lions’ run-and-shoot offense. . . .
Smith on tailback Mazio Royster: “For two years, he didn’t do much at all. I tried to run him off twice and suspended him on a number of occasions because he was missing class and practice. He’s done a complete turnaround.” . . .
Sun Bowl participants included Hardin-Simmons Coach Sammy Baugh in 1958, Miami (Ohio) running back Ara Parseghian in 1948, and Florida State running back Burt Reynolds in 1955. . .
There still is a Sun Bowl. The name of the 52,200-seat stadium on the University of Texas El Paso campus wasn’t changed to the John Hancock Bowl. . . .
I kept trying to adjust the color on my TV set during the Freedom Bowl, but people tell me Oregon and Colorado State really were both wearing green and yellow uniforms. . . .
Florida State always likes to claim that it’s the best team in the nation after a slow start, but the Seminoles didn’t look the part against Penn State in the Blockbuster Bowl. . .
The worst thing that could have happened to John Cooper was Ohio State being invited to the Liberty Bowl. . . .
Maybe Ty Detmer should decline the Heisman if it’s offered to him again next year with two games to play. . . .
Nine bowl games down, 10 to go. . . .
Master of Ceremonies Rocky Bleier at the Hancock Bowl luncheon: “I played for Notre Dame, so I’m impartial. I hate both USC and Michigan State.”