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Getting the Rose Bowl ready for game time

Dozens of Tournament of Roses workers are planning every game detail, including the timing of a B-2 flyover and the toss of a specially minted silver coin to determine who will receive the kickoff.

December 27, 2012|By Joe Piasecki, Los Angeles Times
  • A goal post is put into place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena in preparation for the game between Wisconsin and Stanford. Everything that goes into preparing for the matchup takes place on a detailed schedule behind the scenes.
A goal post is put into place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena in preparation for… (Tim Berger / Pasadena Sun )

College football coaches won't be the only ones calling the shots at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

Dozens of Tournament of Roses Assn. workers are now planning every game detail, including the timing of the traditional B-2 flyover and the toss of a specially minted silver coin to determine who will receive the kickoff. The busiest invisible hands belong to Tournament of Roses senior game manager Edward Corey and game manager Ted Tompkins.

Corey, prepping for his 35th Rose Bowl, coordinates each moment from the sidelines. When the college bands start to play, it's because Corey said go.

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Tompkins, 59, must have everyone and everything in place for Corey. Praised by Rose Bowl Game Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Ash as the organization's top playmaker on the fly, Tompkins stands ready with spare coins for the toss and contingency plans in mind for potential miscues. This will be his 40th Rose Bowl.

"Our goal is not to be seen," said Corey, 51. "Our jobs are done best if no one knows we're here."

The Rose Bowl Game is traditionally played between the champions of what are now the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences, based on an agreement brokered for the 1948 matchup.

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Planning starts in August, when Tournament of Roses leaders meet with conference officials. Efforts kick into high gear after the participating teams are announced in early December. Only then can workers design stadium banners, create and distribute tickets, order merchandise, coordinate team itineraries and obtain stencils and paint for field decals.

Even the Rose Bowl grass is grown anew. The playing field the UCLA Bruins used for their last game of the season Nov. 24 has been replaced as the Wisconsin Badgers and Stanford Cardinal prepare for their showdown.

"The first time this turf's played on is Jan. 1. The Tournament wants the first impression to be 'Wow,'" said Corey, who lives in South Pasadena.

Workers began painting the end zones and marking lines on Wednesday. Artwork gets two coats of paint and a final touch-up a few days before the game, said field assistant Miguel Yepez.

Tompkins, a La Crescenta resident, is responsible for herding players and coaches to news conferences and driving the Rose Queen, the grand marshal and the Tournament president from a Rose Parade tailgate tent to the stadium.

All the while, Corey is marking the time until the 2:04 p.m. flyover and 2:10 p.m. kickoff.

"I'm on a headset with [announcer Chuck White], and if I see we have more time, he'll read slower or put a video on the board. We're basically playing with the script the entire time," Corey said.

joe.piasecki@latimes.com

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