By John Sleeper
SAN DIEGO – San Diego law-enforcement officials are taking no chances on security when it comes to Friday’s Holiday Bowl parade and game.
Police and private security guards will search Qualcomm Stadium before the game between Washington and Texas, Holiday Bowl executive director Bruce Binkowski said, and an undisclosed number of police officers and security guards will sweep the route of the downtown parade, which is expected to draw up to 150,000 people.
“It’s something we feel needs to be done to assure public safety,” Binkowski said. “It’s a sign of the times, unfortunately.”
The parade and game will be under the alert of what San Diego police call “Operational Condition Alpha.” In place through midnight Jan. 2, the alert involves increased surveillance of potential targets of terrorists, including reservoirs and other utilities. During that time, no one will be able to visit any police facilities without an escort.
On Friday, before the parade, authorities will give the OK to tow abandoned and illegally-parked vehicles.
Undercover officers will be at the parade and game, Binkowski said. Cars, trucks, buses and service vehicles entering the stadium parking lot from tonight until Friday morning will be searched, a search that will include the use of mirrors to check underneath vehicles.
Before and during the game, security guards will man several video-surveillance posts.
Some security measures have been in place at Qualcomm since the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks. Backpacks, coolers and liquid containers are not allowed in the stadium. Authorities will search purses and small bags.
Pickett looking for better: Washington quarterback Cody Pickett places much blame on himself for losses to Oregon State and Miami this season.
Against Oregon State, the redshirt sophomore was 13-for-32 passing with an interception in the Huskies’ 49-24 defeat. Miami intercepted Pickett five times in a 65-7 mugging.
When he thinks of the season, Pickett doesn’t think of the school-record 455 passing yards he threw against Arizona. Nor does he think about his school-record 240.3-yards-per-game passing average. Nor does he take into account an inexperienced offensive line and inexperienced receivers.
“When I think about my season, I look at Oregon State and Miami,” he said. “I have to play better.”
Media darlings: At 400 pages, Washington’s media guide is the largest in the Pacific-10 Conference. But then, everything’s big in Texas. The Longhorns’ media guide is a whopping 568 pages, with the cover depicting a flaming football (complete with true-to-life dimpled texture) in three-dimensional wonder that looks like it’s flying toward the reader.
“I needed a wheelbarrow to carry it,” UW offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson said.
Short routes: The Longhorns are looking to turn around their bowl showings, having lost five of their last six bowl games. Since beating Alabama 14-12 in the 1982 Cotton Bowl, Texas is 3-9 in bowl games … The Longhorns have been in 40 bowl games, more than any team in the nation except for Tennessee (41) and Alabama (50) … How big is winning in Texas? Big enough that coach Mack Brown is being publicly thrashed for not getting the Longhorns into the BCS title game, even though he has won 37 games in his four seasons there and is 10-2 this season. “I’ve found that the only devastating losses at Texas are the losses,” Brown quipped.