Although Florida’s 41-14 victory over Ohio State in the BCS championship game seized everyone’s immediate attention, as could be expected, many officials looked at the events of the past week as an excellent workout for a bigger event on a bigger stage: Super Bowl XLII.
The NFL crowns its champion at University of Phoenix Stadium on Feb. 3, 2008. That gives the Valley 390 days to prepare.
“The Super Bowl,” said Glendale police spokesman Matt Barnett, “will be the BCS game on steroids.”
People flying out of Phoenix today should get to the airport early.
Airlines are predicting that this could be the busiest day of the year at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, as Buckeyes and Gators fans pile onto planes and head home after Monday night’s game.
On a typical day, about 75,000 people go to the Phoenix airport. But Deborah Ostreicher, deputy aviation director, expects a crowd of 150,000 — the same number of passengers who fly the day before Thanksgiving — will embark from Sky Harbor today.
Ostreicher said passengers should arrive two hours early, check with their airline beforehand to confirm their terminal numbers, and be prepared for security checks.
NO WEATHER WORRIES
For making a good impression upon the Valley’s visitors, the weather couldn’t have been any nicer.
The pregame fun was held under a warm sun with cloudless skies. Monday’s high at Glendale Municipal Airport topped out at 73 degrees.
When kickoff came, the airport in Columbus, Ohio, was reporting 36 degrees under mostly cloudy skies. In Gainesville, Fla., it was 52 degrees and fair.
Top T-shirt, part I
Gator hater: Fear the Nut.
Top T-shirt, part II
Need Two Tickets.
“I’ll change into my game shirt when I get tickets,” said Tim Gresman of Miami, Ohio.
His game shirt?
“Shhhhhh! Ohio State,” Gresman said. “Who knows, I might be able to get (a ticket) from a Gator fan.”
Something different was in the air at University of Phoenix Stadium.
During pregame warm-ups, the venue’s PA system wasn’t blasting the rock tunes traditionally heard at sporting events. Instead, the Ohio State and Florida fans and players were serenaded with classical music.
The Buckeyes took the field to Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony, Second Movement.” Earlier, the Gators were loosening up to Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo.”
One of the game’s biggest winners paid for his reward with sweat and toil. But Fred Banks is neither a Buckeye nor a Gator.
At halftime, Habitat for Humanity presented Banks with the keys to a 1,300-square-foot home he and his 3-year-old daughter can call their own.
It was only a week ago, during the Fiesta Bowl, that Banks was surprised with the news he’d be getting a house in Glendale. Banks thought he was taking part in a football target toss to raise money for Habitat for Humanity, but that’s when the charity let him know he’d soon be a homeowner.
In the days since, alumni of Ohio State and Florida have come together for a “blitz build.”
Banks, an auditor with the Arizona Department of Revenue, had put in 400 hours of sweat equity, making him more than eligible for a new home.
A pregame ceremony to honor past BCS champions didn’t sit too well in the Gators’ collective craw.
Representing the No. 1 teams, dating back to the 1999 Fiesta Bowl, were one player from each title-winning squad.
The first player announced was Peerless Price, a wide receiver for Tennessee. The Volunteers are bitter rivals of Florida, so his name was met with a round of boos from corners of the stadium.
Standing in for 2000 champion Florida State was kicker Sebastian Janikowski. The Gators declined to give him a welcome any warmer than Price’s.
Staff writers Christian Richardson and John Leptich contributed to this report.