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No players, but thousands celebrate as Southern California becomes 'Oregonamonica'
by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT The University of Oregon band plays at Sunday's pep rally in Santa Monica, Calif., on the eve of the 98th Rose Bowl.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. - Several thousand Oregon fans basked in the sun Sunday at a pep rally for the Ducks, who play Wisconsin at 2 p.m. Monday in the Rose Bowl.

If only the Ducks were there.

ESPN personality Neil Everett and pro golfer Peter Jacobsen, both UO alumni, served as co-emcees of the event at the Santa Monica pier.

Although many of their fans showed up, coach Chip Kelly and his players did not appear. They practiced in Pasadena earlier Sunday, and the coach and some players appeared at the Rose Bowl luncheon.

The day before, Wisconsin players and coach Bret Bielema showed up enmasse at their own fan rally in the same Santa Monica location - near the beach, with sand and ocean and blue sky to the west.

"These minutes didn't fall into his minutes," said Everett, referring to Kelly's schedule.

Kelly taped a video, thanking the fans for their support, jokingly blaming rock singer Sebastian Bach - who appeared at the Ducks' BCS rally last year - for not showing up to drive him to the rally.

Kelly praised the UO fans, and gave his thumbs-up to Mother Nature.

"Reminds me of Eugene in July," he says.

Curiously, the rally started with a video that showed ex-Duck Cliff Harris, who has been dismissed from the team, returning a punt for a touchdown last season.

Jacobsen and Everett started by introducing Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom, who offered this gem:

"Today, we're not Santa Monica! Today we're Oregonamonica!"

He went on to yell "Go Ducks!" and say, "I guess you know where my sentiments are."

Everett gave a shout out to deposed UO President Richard Lariviere, saying, "How 'bout a hand for 'The Hat.' " Then, Lorraine Davis, UO acting provost, ribbed Jacobsen, who she taught in class way back when - "she gave me a D-plus," he deadpanned.

"Peter does better up here than he did in class," joked Davis, a 40-year UO employee.

She also pledged to uphold her promise to get a rose tattoo, if the Ducks ever win the Rose Bowl. To wit, Everett said: "You know what I'm curious about: Where's Lorraine gonna get that tattoo?"

Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio, whose 4th Congressional District includes Eugene, appeared on stage and played the Oregon fight song with Duck lips. To wit, Everett: "Does that prove that all politicians are blowhards?"

Kelly graced the audience with his appearance on videotape, followed by Everett's suggestion that Oregon's "liquid metal" helmets could get really shiny in the California sun and Rose Bowl lights.

"Bring your sunglasses," he said.

Then came the introduction of former UO great Joey Harrington to the "Superman" theme song.

Harrington, who works for ESPN Longhorn Network and his own foundation, basically gave the gathered Duck fans a really, really good locker room-type speech.

"How many people realize what position we're in right now?" he yelled, explaining the greatest time in UO football history since its beginnings way back when - including the 1983 "Toilet Bowl," the 1989 Independence Bowl and the 1995 Rose Bowl.

Oregon's behemoth DuckTruck rolled between the stage and the crowd, and parked in front of some unfortunate fans, whose "Move that truck!" chants never resulted in anybody moving the truck.

The Duck mascot rode on the back of a big motorcycle to cheering fans, a la the Duck's typical entrance at Autzen Stadium games. Public address announcer Don Essig, he of the famous "it never rains at Autzen Stadium" phrase, made an appearance on stage, as well. It rained two years ago on the Oregon Rose Bowl rally here. But it was beautiful Sunday.

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