LOS ANGELES – It didn’t take Alexander Cochran long to decide whether or not he was going to follow the Georgia Bulldogs to the Rose Bowl. About 15 minutes actually, from notion to completion of tickets transaction.
The Washington, D.C., resident and UGA alumnus was actually in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport when he heard that the Bulldogs would indeed be facing Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.
“We were heading home after the SEC Championship,” Cochran said. “I said, ‘Babe, no Christmas this year. We’re going to the Rose Bowl!’ ”
So, there they were Friday, Cochran and his “babe,” wife Teresa, strolling on the pier in Hermosa Beach, Calif., with their two sons in their Georgia gear. The Cochrans were visiting a cousin, Diana Allen, who lives in Hermosa, about 22 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles.
But they didn’t come to California by themselves. In all, Cochran said there are about 30 people in their party attending Monday’s Rose Bowl, including his father, Tom Cochran, a fellow UGA alum. There are friends and family gathering here from D.C., Virginia and Arizona.
Cochran is actually an Athens native, born in what he calls the “second” St. Mary’s Hospital. His brother, he notes, was born in the first.
“We were just so fired up that we’re not at the Sugar Bowl,” Cochran said. “Who would’ve thought? Who would’ve ever thought Georgia would be in the Rose Bowl? Some people in Georgia are waiting for the national championship game. That’s a mistake. You’ve got to go to the Rose Bowl. We might never be in the Rose Bowl again.”
If you sense Cochran is a serious Georgia fan, you’d be right. Already this year, he went to South Bend for the Bulldogs game against Notre Dame and, as mentioned, also attended the SEC Championship in Atlanta. Cochran said he already has purchased tickets for the national championship game, too.
“We’ve been trying to hit all our bucket list games this year,” Cochran said.
Back at his home in Oakton, Va., Cochran has the ultimate Georgia basement. It includes signed pictures of Charley Trippi and Frank Sinkwich, along with every other significant star player the Bulldogs have had in the last seven decades.
“He’s the original Bulldog,” said his cousin with a laugh.
Now that he’s here in Los Angeles, Cochran and his family couldn’t be more excited. That doesn’t necessarily mean confident.
“We’re just fired up, period,” Cochran said. “I’m nervous about playing Baker Mayfield. The only guy we’ve played like him was the quarterback at Missouri. [Auburn’s Jarrett] Stidham maybe. But Mayfield’s really, really good.”
Meanwhile, up in Pasadena, they’re getting ready for the Dogs as well. A proprietor who has opened a temporary game-day memorabilia store on Colorado Avenue in Old Pasadena said he ordered twice as much Georgia merchandise as he did Oklahoma.
“Word is way more Georgia fans are coming,” he said.
Across Seco Street from the main entrance of Rose Bowl Stadium, the floats that are being used in this year’s parade are being assembled in large aluminum buildings. Included is a large dragon-like structure being built by the students at nearby Cal Poly College. While it’s known as the Rose Parade, there were probably more carnations than roses. But there was an army of hundreds of volunteers working feverishly into the night on both.
On New Year’s Eve, people can get a sneak preview of the floats as they’re lined up on Green Street. The parade begins at 8 a.m. Monday. Tickets are sold for $100 for those who want to view the parade from surrounding grandstands, but it can be seen for free from almost anywhere on the 5-mile route.
Traffic in and around the stadium during the parade and for a while afterward is severely impeded and will be often be at a standstill. Local time for kickoff is 2 p.m., so it could affect tailgating around the stadium.
It appears that freshman Deangelo Gibbs didn’t make the trip to the Rose Bowl. The reason why, beyond he hasn’t been a contributor this season, remains a mystery.
But sophomore safety J.R. Reed said on Friday that Bulldogs fans need not worry about it.
“He’s fine,” Reed said, without shedding further light. “He’ll be back.” Gibbs was a high-4-star signee and at one time considered among the candidates to receiver significant playing time at safety this season. He was getting some first-team reps in spring practice.
Ironically, it was Reed — Gibbs’ first cousin — who ended up winning the job at the position Gibbs was expected to play. That’s particularly notable since Reed, a transfer from Tulsa, was thought to have been lured to Georgia to help the Bulldogs get Gibbs.
Gibbs has always downplayed that, and did again Friday.
“It’s wasn’t a big factor,” he said. “I had other schools I was looking at like Baylor, Tennessee, La. Tech. I was looking at different schools in that area. But when I decided to come to Georgia, that just put a plus on him.”
Roquan dishes on Coach Schumann
Roquan Smith said he read up on Mel Tucker before he arrived as Georgia’s defensive coordinator and he knew right away he was a good coach. As for his position coach — Glenn Schumann — there was considerably less to go on.
Schumann came to Georgia from Alabama with Kirby Smart, for whom he had worked the previous two years as a defensive analyst. There was very little information on him.
“I Googled some stuff and saw that he, like, did a lot of behind the scenes work,” said the Bulldogs’ Butkus Award-winning linebacker. “Then I just started asking people about him, some players over there (at Alabama). They were talking about how much of a guru he was.”
Nowadays, the two are tight as ticks, and Smith has great respect for his young position coach.
“When I met him and started watching film with him, I was like, ‘Wow, this guy really is that (guru),’ ” Smith said.
One quirk about Schumann is that he always wears full cotton gray sweatpants and shirts to practice, regardless of weather conditions.
“Oh, he’s been doing that ever since he got here,” Smith said. “He says he’s consistent in everything he does and he’ll continue to do that. Whether it’s 95 degrees or 31 degrees, he’ll be in it.”