Las Vegas Sun

April 20, 2014

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Ron Kantowski:

Bowl game luncheon has variety fit for Vegas

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Beyond the Sun

To paraphrase the old joke, I went to the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl VIP Community Ticket Kickoff Luncheon on Thursday ... and “The Ed Sullivan Show” broke out.

There was a bowl game director and a Final Four basketball coach and a former basketball All-American and a former All-Pro quarterback and a world-class ventriloquist and Bob Blum, the Las Vegas sports icon who turned 89 years young on Thursday.

How’s that for variety?

About the only ones missing at the Cili restaurant at Bali-Hai Golf Club were Topo Gigio, the Italian mouse; a guy spinning plates; and the Dave Clark Five.

Tina Kunzer-Murphy, the executive director of the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl, spoke. UNLV basketball coach Lon Kruger spoke. Ed O’Bannon, the former UCLA basketball great, sat next to me and listened. Ken O’Brien, who was selected three picks before Dan Marino in the 1983 NFL draft, spoke. Terry Fator ventriloquized.

“There is no such thing as a free lunch,” Kunzer-Murphy said.

Give her credit. At least this year the lawyers and bank presidents who plunked down good money for bronze, silver, gold or platinum ticket packages for the Dec. 22 Maaco Las Vegas Bowl pitting the Mountain West champion against the fifth-place team from the Pac-10 left thoroughly amused and entertained.

All jokes and singing puppets aside, it was up to O’Brien, who, ironically, wasn’t exposed to the college bowl experience as a player — he starred at Cal-Davis, then a member of NCAA’s Division II, which decided its national champion with the novel concept of a playoff — to shed perspective on the proceedings.

“Just by its definition, a bowl game is the culmination of a college career for these kids and they will remember the good times they had in these bowl games,” said the only New York Jets quarterback to top the NFL in passing efficiency — and that includes a guy named Joe Willie Namath. “It means a ton to ’em.”

Group ticket packages, beginning at $1,200, and individual tickets, beginning at $20, are on sale. To reserve tickets, log on to maacobowllv.com or call 732-3912.

Ask for Senor Wences. S’awright!

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