The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit was so thrilling and exciting that I must exclaim. I want more football!!!!!! Florida International won on the last play. Jack Griffin kicked a 34 yard field goal with time expired for the win. FIU wins 34-32 over Toledo. The Toledo players were stunned. At the two minute mark they had the game won.
All of Florida and especially Miami should be proud of FIU. T.Y. Hilton’s decision to go to FIU instead of West Virginia is looking pretty good right now. Quarterback Wes Carroll orchestrated the winning drive and the 20 yard pass to Greg Ellingson in the last minute set up the win. Three FIU interceptions in the second half was the real key though. Golden Panthers Head Coach, Mario Cristobal said, “That was our team, we play a full game. I am so proud of these guys.”
Toledo had the game. It was a heartbreaking loss. They had just taken the lead with a gutsy two point pass conversion. Eric Page made it look simple for the Rockets. When Toledo kicked off it was a mistake. The short pooch to keep the ball away from Hilton gave FIU great field postion.
Toledo Head Coach, Tim Beckman said after the game, “Any game hurts when you lose, the team put their heart and soul on the line.”
The Panthers didn’t get to celebrate very long, as the team showered and left Detroit for Miami on their charter flight. (Some of the assistant coaches’ wives were cold.) I am Kidding. But they were and they told me. J Ford Field is indoors and what a great facility.
Big Caylin Hauptmann stayed behind to visit with his parents from Los Angeles. He got all the attention from the other FIU parents at the Downtown Detroit Doubletree Hotel. He handled it very well. Hauptmann stated what he remembered from the LCPB Christmas Eve luncheon. “I remember what Coach Perles told us at the lunch, I am soaking it all in,” he said smiling.
The game telecast got moved from ESPN2 to ESPN because of a NFL cancellation. The snow in Philly did that game in. The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl benefitted. Many more people watched and the tight battle held the audience.
I learned about the TV – Red Hat. No, not those older American women who like to party. Those are “Red Hats”. You don’t ever want to get into a hotel elevator with them. That is another story.
During the ESPN telecast, a guy wired up to the TV Director holds up the referee when there are television timeouts. He wears a red hat. I have more to learn about American Football but I know this, I love Bowl Games.
And speaking of elevators, the ones at the Motor City Hotel had televisions inside. That was way cool and they had all kinds of Little Caesars Pizza Bowl video highlights on.
I had a nice chat with storied coach George Perles of the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. We compared Polish and Lithuanian recipes. I tried on his Super Bowl Ring. He only wears one but has four. We talked about the 1988 Michigan State Rose Bowl victory. He fooled USC. They expected Lorenzo White to get the call but it was the running of Blake Ezor that did in USC. Coach Perles even remembered the play calls, 38 toss and 39 toss.
The Pizza Party before the game was enjoyed by the college students and kids of all ages. The Pizza was good and filling. Toledo’s marching band was really Bardzo Dobrze (Polish for very good). Up close, you get to see how hard they work.
Well, do widzenia – (Polish for good-bye) from Detroit. I ate like a king. The Iridescence restaurant on top of the Motor City Hotel is world class. Fine dining was at its best. I loved the pretzel bread. My steak was big and tender. The service was impeccable. During my stay I learned about motivation, medical, coaching techniques, intensity, and the list goes on and on. I never played so I hope I can pass along to other novices. Raymond Rolak related the concept of ‘Teach the Teachers’, so they can spread the growth of American Football in Europe. He developed the same concept for beginning ice-hockey programs.
I know that ALL the FIU underclassmen will surely be ambassadors for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. There is a Little Caesars Pizza store right across from the FIU football offices, I wonder if they will get to display the trophy? Coach Cristobal said he is going to eat Little Caesars Pizza with his assistants for many late night sessions for years to come. J
By Jacek Urbanczyk, Polish League of American Football
(Editors Note: Mr. Urbanczyk was observing for the Polish League of American Football.)