Text messages from press row . . .
USC’s threat to bolt to the Rose Bowl recalls Jack Kent Cooke’s mid-1960s dealings with the Coliseum Commission, a group of bureaucrats the erudite former Lakers owner once described as “Machiavellian kind of birds.” . . .
Cooke hoped to put an NHL expansion franchise in the Sports Arena, which was home to the Jerry West-Elgin Baylor Lakers, but the Coliseum Commission already had granted exclusive hockey rights to the minor-league L.A. Blades, whose ownership group also was trying to land an NHL team. . . .
Cooke threatened to build his own arena for the Lakers and what would become the Kings, to which one scoffing commissioner replied, “Ha. Ha. Ha.” . . .
Cooke, as quoted in the book, “Winnin’ Times,” later recalled, “Now if he’d only laughed, I would have laughed with him, you see? But he actually said, ‘Ha. Ha. Ha.’ I said, ‘In that case, I am going to build my own arena.’ ” . . .
Cooke told an aide, “I’ve had enough of this balderdash.” . . .
Then he built the Forum. . . .
For the next three decades, until Staples Center opened in 1999, the Inglewood arena was home to the Lakers and Kings, not to mention nearly every major concert attraction of the era, while the Sports Arena fell into disrepair. . . .
The Rose Bowl setting, by the way, ranks among the nation’s most gorgeous but the Coliseum, for all its faults, is a better place to watch a football game. . . .
USC and UCLA are scheduled to play home games on the same date only once next season, Nov. 8, hopefully not at the same stadium. . . .
If USC wins Saturday against UCLA or in a bowl game, this would be its sixth consecutive season of at least 10 victories under Coach Pete Carroll. . . .
Before 2002, USC won 10 games once in 22 seasons. . . .
UCLA has won as many as 10 games once since 1998 -- Karl Dorrell and the Bruins were 10-2 two years ago -- and only seven times in its history. . . .
Top-ranked Missouri, which plays Oklahoma for the Big 12 championship Saturday at San Antonio, has not played in a January bowl game since Jan. 1, 1970, when it lost to Penn State, 10-3, in the Orange Bowl. . . .
Yes, Joe Paterno was Penn State’s coach in January 1970. . . .
It was his fourth season. . . .
In 11 seasons with the Minnesota Twins, new Angels center fielder Torii Hunter batted for a slightly higher average in the Metrodome than on the road but hit more home runs and compiled a higher slugging percentage on the road. . . .
The late Kirby Puckett, by contrast, hit much better in the Metrodome (.344 batting average, .521 slugging percentage) than on the road (.291 and .430). . . .
While nationally ranked Kansas and Texas will be in town Sunday for games at the Galen Center and Pauley Pavilion against USC and UCLA, respectively, the world’s greatest college-age basketball player will be at Staples Center, where Dwight Howard leads the Orlando Magic against the Lakers. . . .
In only his fourth season out of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, the 6-foot-11 Howard already might be the NBA’s best center. . . .
He turns 22 on Dec. 8. . . .
Oft-injured, 38-year-old point guard Sam Cassell of the Clippers is the NBA’s third-oldest player behind Dikembe Mutombo, 41, of the Houston Rockets and Darrell Armstrong, 39, of the New Jersey Nets. . . .
And Cassell has played 9,300 more minutes than Armstrong. . . .
The New England Patriots’ 11-0 start might dredge up painful memories for longtime Southland football fans who recall that in 1969 the George Allen-coached Los Angeles Rams team won its first 11 games, lost their edge when Allen uncharacteristically eased up on them and then dropped their last four, among them a stinging playoff defeat at Minnesota. . . .
Not since 1943, when the NFL’s last 0-0 tie was played, had two teams gone longer into a game without scoring than the Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins on Monday night, when Jeff Reed’s 24-yard field goal with 17 seconds to play gave the Steelers a rain-soaked, 3-0 victory at Pittsburgh. . . .
Mike Powell, with a leap of 29 feet 4 1/2 inches in 1991, is the world record-holder in the long jump, but as a UCLA student he couldn’t top football star James McAlister’s still-standing school record of 27-0 1/2 , set in 1973. . . .
Notes UCLA alumnus and former Sunkist Invitation chairman Al Franken, “Sometimes it’s easier to be first in the world than at UCLA.” . . .
Welcome back, Darren Collison. . . .
Happy belated birthday to Vin Scully, who turned 80 Thursday. . . .
As the saying goes, “The older the fiddle, the sweeter the tune.”