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ROSE BOWL | TEXAS 41, USC 38 | REPORT

Celebrity Sightings Are All Mapped Out

January 05, 2006|From Times Staff Reports

Before the start of the game, ABC, using Rose Bowl and its own sources, already had a list of the celebrities attending the game.

So it's no coincidence that its TV cameras just happened to find famous faces in the crowd.

For example, Kobe Bryant's group was in Section 18, Row 25, Seats 11-14.

You can't get much more specific than that.

Actress Teri Hatcher's group was across the way in Section 4, Row 22, Seats 105-112.

USC quarterback Matt Leinart's family was in Section 4, Row 4, Seats 1-6, close to the field.

Other celebrities on the ABC list included Jim Belushi, George Lopez, Mark Prior, Nick Lachey, Henry Winkler, Dennis Quaid, LeAnn Rimes, who sang the national anthem, Will Ferrell, Lance Armstrong and Matthew McConaughey.

Ferrell, a USC alumnus, and McConaughey, a Texas alum, did a taped piece for the ABC pregame show. Armstrong appeared live on ESPN's "College GameDay" before the game.

Also spotted before the game: Dodger pitcher Derek Lowe and girlfriend Carolyn Hughes, a former Fox broadcaster.

*

Texas paid a price for winning the national championship. Defensive back Tarrell Brown broke his arm trying to defend a 22-yard touchdown pass from Leinart to Dwayne Jarrett in the fourth quarter.

Receiver Billy Pittman, who had four catches for 53 yards, injured his knee on a 23-yard pass play with 10:58 left to play and did not return.

"It doesn't matter," Pittman said. "It's all worth it now. We're like warriors. We fought through it all."

Even though the weather was cool, several Texas players cramped up and some became so dehydrated that they required an IV.

"I guess they were playing too hard," Pittman said.

*

Bowl championship series officials announced last week that celebrities wouldn't be allowed on the sidelines.

That didn't last long.

McConaughey and fellow Texas alum Roger Clemens were seen on the field in the first quarter.

The only celebrity types who were supposed to be down on the field were a few prominent former players from each side.

That was the compromise BCS officials reached in deciding the teams would each be allowed to give out five "gold passes."

The former players who got those were actually issued credentials closer to Texas' burnt orange in color.

From USC, they went to Anthony Munoz, Ronnie Lott, Rodney Peete, Marlin McKeever and Marcus Allen, assistant athletic director Steve Lopes reported.

Munoz, an offensive tackle, played from 1976 to '79, and went on to a Hall of Fame NFL career. Lott, a safety from 1977 to '80; Peete, a quarterback from 1985 to '88; McKeever, an end and fullback from 1958 to '60; and Allen, tailback from 1979 to '81; were All-Americans and went on to stand out in the pros. Lott and Allen are also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

*

Texas officials said before the game that they wouldn't be using their allotment of sideline passes.

"We told everybody no, because we had been told they weren't allowing anybody on the sideline," school spokesman John Bianco said. "Then, three days ago, they told us we could have five.

"It really put us in a bind. We'd already said no. So we're not using them.

"Our problem is we really don't have any famous alumni who live in the L.A. area."

*

Rey Maualuga stood tall in the quiet of the USC locker room. Underneath each of his eyes, printed with white letters on black paint was the word "Dad."

On Monday, Maualuga's father, Talatono, died of cancer.

The tears Maualuga shed were not for a defeat but for the loss of the man who had given the son his love of the game.

"My dad pushed me to play football when I didn't think I liked it," Maualuga said. "I don't know why he loved this game so much, but he did. He went to every game he could and he would have been so mad with me if I hadn't played tonight."

There was never a doubt Maualuga would play either. "No way," he said. "My family was with me, my teammates were with me, my coaches were with me. Now I'll go home and honor my dad. I think that's what I did tonight."

*

USC sophomore left tackle Sam Baker played but was weakened by a severe case of food poisoning that had forced him to receive fluids intravenously.

"They were pumping me full of everything you can pump me with," Baker said. "The doctors and coaches took great care of me."

Baker said he woke up at 6 Tuesday morning and was too ill to attend team meetings. He was not sure what made him sick, because he ate the same meals he had the day before.

Nonetheless, Baker, who said his back was sore from vomiting, was not going to miss the chance to help the Trojans win another national title.

"I think just the adrenaline of being out there with my guys helped," he said.

*

Just in case there was any doubt, USC Coach Pete Carroll is as cool on the sideline as he seems.

With Texas leading, 23-17, in the third quarter, Carroll spotted John Saunders and Aaron Taylor of ABC and Mark May of ESPN on the sidelines. He went over to them and said, "We're going to be fine."

Said Saunders: "What other coach would come over and say hello to three guys right in the middle of a national championship game?"

Times staff writers Larry Stewart, Mike Hiserman, Sam Farmer, Diane Pucin, Ben Bolch and Peter Yoon contributed to this report.

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