Last night, a potential new era of USC football was ushered in as a national TV audience on watched. Per CBS Sports’ Dean Straka:
Amid heavy speculation that USC coach Lincoln Riley will dip into the transfer portal to find his 2024 starting quarterback, a current member of the roster just announced himself as a contender to take the role. In his first collegiate start, redshirt sophomore Miller Moss set a Holiday Bowl record six touchdowns, leading USC to a 42-28 victory over No. 15 Louisville.
Playing in front of an audience of 35,317 at PETCO Park that included former USC quarterbacks Matt Leinart, Caleb Williams and Cody Kessler, Moss looked like the heir to the Trojans signal caller legacy. He quickly shook off the nerves that were apparent during an opening three-and-out and, by halftime, had tied the Holiday Bowl record for touchdown passes (four).
To me, for as intriguing and as encouraging as Moss’ performance was, the fact that it took place on a field usually reserved for baseball was perhaps the most noteworthy item in that recap.
But this time of year, that’s actually more common that one might think. And it’s a throwback to days where football and baseball regularly shared the same stadium. Stadiums built for baseball, where football was often an afterthought. Where gridirons were shoehorned into diamonds and where dirt infields took over a good deal of the playing surface. Where bleacher seats otherwise far from the action in baseball are now highly desired with excellent panoramic views of the action.
When the Raiders left Oakland for the allure of Las Vegas in 2020, the last permanent shared stadium situation ended. But thanks to the glut of bowl games and the desire for something interesting to attract fans, we get several such instances such as the one that took place last night in San Diego.
The night before, the Guaranteed Rate Bowl (that name sounds just as out of place in football as it does for Comiskey Park, no?) was held in the ballpark usually reserved for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Today, in back-to-back afternoon games (it’s getaway day, right?) Fenway Park will play host to a bowl game featuring hometown Boston College giving SMU a preview of what life will be like in the ACC, while right after that Yankee Stadium will reunite old Big East revivals Rutgers and Miami, with a pep rally at Billy’s across the street to get them warmed up, literally and figuratively.
And on New Year’s Day, the NHL gets into the repurposing action again with its struggling but still significant Winter Classic, this time providing a first for Seattle’s T-Mobile Park as its Kraken get ready to host the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights. After over 20 years, the unique appeal of the Classic to provide a snow-driven venue akin to what players grew up as kids competing in on outdoor ponds has grown a little stale, and it’s highly doubtful that there will be a lot of snow in Seattle. But it’s also highly unlikely it will be warm. If nothing else, it will provide a nice communal venue for fans to hang around in when the Huskies take the field in New Orleans in the college football championship semifinal being contested that evening.
And you gotta admit, it sure looks impressive.
Now if these games can find their own Miller Moss-like storyline, they might actually be worth remembering.