Jan. 1 traditions

Like many American males, I’m drawn to football for at least part of the day on New Year’s Day. This year has been no exception. Clemson vs. Nebraksa in the Gator Bowl took up my afternoon.

New Year’s Day bowl game viewing used to be pretty simple and manageable. Back in the day, it began with the Sugar Bowl or the Cotton Bowl as the early afternoon game (you had to choose one), followed by the Rose Bowl in late afternoon and the Orange Bowl as the nightcap. Then college football was done until September.

Now the New Year’s Day landscape includes the likes of the Outback Bowl and the Capital One Bowl, and yes, now the Gator Bowl is also in the once-exclusive Jan. 1 lineup. And now the bowl season extends for another week — with a day off for the NFL on Sunday — culminating in the BCS championship game next Thursday between Florida and Oklahoma. In between, a half-d0zen more games from the compelling (Ohio State vs. Texas on Monday in the Fiesta Bowl) to the “why bother” (Connecticut vs. Buffalo on Saturday in the International Bowl in Toronto).

Today’s Clemson-Nebraska game brought back a number of memories for me. Along with my friend and fellow Clemson alumnus Roy “Bart” Bartlette, I was in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 1982, when the Tigers and the Cornhuskers last met. Clemson claimed the national championship by capping an unbeaten season with a 22-15 victory. And the old Gator Bowl stadium in Jacksonville, Fla., holds some nostalgia for me, too. I saw back-to-back heartbreaking losses by my Florida Gators to Georgia there in 1974-5 and was in the press box for the 1978 Gator Bowl game, when Ohio State coach Woody Hayes ended his career by punching out a Clemson player in the final minutes of a loss to the Tigers. (It was the worst seat in the house from which to see that incident, by the way.)

New Year’s Day is also a traditional day for me to be in the kitchen. Most years, I fix the traditional black-eyed peas and collard greens for good luck and prosperity during the coming year. (I’m beginning to wonder about that, as the years I’ve skipped that tradition lately are ones in which we’ve done pretty well…)

Today’s plan was also to grill up some marinated pork tenderloin, using a recipe from a Southern Living cookbook series from the Eighties. It’s ended up under my name in a couple of cookbook compilations and it usually goes over pretty well. It’s fairly simple.

1/3 cup soy sauce (I use the low sodium variety)
1/3 cup bourbon whisky (any will do, but I use Maker’s Mark)
2 tbsp. firmly packed light brown sugar

Mix well and pour over one package of pork tenderloins. Marinate for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator. You can bake in the oven, but grilling gives a better flavor.

Anyway, we’ll have to try it tomorrow when we have a full tank of propane. The back-up dinner was outstanding, a recipe Jayne found online for a Philly-cheese steak type sandwich using cubed steak. Maybe we’ll include that one in a later post.

Happy New Year, everyone!


About theoldperfessor

I'm a college professor, teaching journalism and public relations classes at a small private university, and a freelance writer.
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