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DALLAS — While the Rose Bowl is still the “Granddaddy of Them All,” the Cotton Bowl has become, in the eyes of some, the great uncle with bad knees and a hacking cough.

But I’m here in the Big D to tell you, Old Man Cotton is getting a bum rap. On this New Year’s Day, it was a bowl to be reckoned with.

It was not a full house, unless you had the attendance number of 66,777 in a poker hand. But it was a solid crowd in a place that holds 72,262. More than 25,000 Husker fans showed up, and the ones I spoke with said they enjoyed the experience despite Auburn’s 17-14 victory against Nebraska.

I’ve been to the Rose Bowl, and it’s no cleaner than the Cotton Bowl, which is certainly not in any worse shape than Texas Stadium. I always wanted to see the Cowboys’ home. After this trip, I can proudly say that I’ve been there, smelled that.

The Cotton Bowl is a palace compared to Jerry Jones’ old place. Good to hear a new one is in the works.

When it gets right down to enjoying a football game, it all comes to the weather more than anything. That was mostly a plus Monday. It was chilly — 46 degrees at kickoff — but the sun was shining.

One thing that would help warm things would be to start the game a tad later. No bowl game should start before McDonald’s starts serving lunch, in my opinion.

Cotton Bowl Classic officials clearly are a little paranoid about the myth that the weather always stinks for their game. One of the post-game notes included the following tidbit:

For the fifth consecutive year, the AT&T CBC was played with no rain or snow. … Conditions were ideal for the 41st time in 71 Cotton Bowl Classics.

Ideal, unless you’re a sportswriter who is not used to leaving for the stadium in the dark of morning. I got the last seat on the 7 a.m. shuttle — the only other option was 7:30. The early morning wakeup call came with a reward, however — a seat on the bus next to Cotton Bowl expert Arnold Hayes.

Hayes, who lives in College Station, has been to the last 54 Cotton Bowl games. He was there in 1954 when Alabama’s Tommy Lewis came off the bench to hit Rice’s Dicky Maegle in one of the most bizarre plays you could ever imagine.

Hayes, a former media coordinator for the Cotton Bowl, was also part of the hoopla for the 1965 game between Nebraska and Arkansas. He said tickets were going for as much as $300 for that one — a ton of money to pay for a football ticket in 1965.

Hayes acknowledged that the weather can be an issue on Jan. 1 in Dallas and that the Cotton Bowl is not a showplace among stadiums. He said it’s all about showing folks a good time.

“Our position has always been, we don’t have beaches, we don’t have Bourbon Street, so we have to overcome those things with hospitality and goodwill.”

Throw in Monday’s good weather and a heck of a football game, and you have a Chamber of Commerce day to remember. And I don’t know if you noticed, but the Rose Bowl was a dud.

Replay review

Reminiscent of last year’s Alamo Bowl, it was not a sterling effort by the review crew Monday.

Regardless of what the ruling should have been on the Lee Guess-Cortney Grixby battle in the end zone in the third quarter, the folks upstairs should have called for a break to give it a closer look.

Grixby said he had the ball all the way.

“I had the ball in my hands coming down,” he said. “I could have gotten it earlier, but the ball hung in the sun for a while. I couldn’t see the ball until it came out of the sun.

“If he had caught it, it would have been a touchdown because his feet were in-bounds.”

Not the ideal carry

Husker fans wanted to see senior fullback Dane Todd finally get a carry, and they got their wish, but it wasn’t pretty. Todd said Auburn’s punt-pressure teams made things too hot to handle on the fake punt call in the first quarter.

“We got a little penetration (from Auburn) up the middle, and it just muddied up the pitch,” said Todd, who pitched to safety Andrew Shanle on the ill-fated play.

Todd was credited with a 15-yard loss on his only carry since 2003, but it’s merely a statistical blemish on an otherwise sterling Husker resume for the Academic All-American from Lincoln Southeast.

Reach John Mabry at 473-7320 or jmabry@journalstar.com.

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