Former Athletes, Celebs, Bring Pregame Excitement to Pasadena Convention Center

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Taylor Hicks_

The 2014 Tournament of Roses and the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission (LASEC) hosted the National Championship Party “A Taste of LA” presented by Western Asset Sunday night, on the eve of the BCS National Championship game.

The event took place at the Pasadena Convention Center and was filled with celebrities, current and former athletes, notable Auburn and Florida State alumni, and several ESPN anchors and analysts.

American Idol Season Six Winner Taylor Hicks performed live at the event, and showed up at the red carpet voicing his support for his Auburn Tigers.

Another former Tiger and former NFL linebacker Takeo Spikes said on the red carpet he had several friendly wagers with former Florida State Seminoles and that he was looking forward to another Auburn title.

When asked about his thoughts on the day’s earlier NFL wild card winners, the 49ers and Chargers, both among Spikes’ former teams, he said, “The Chargers are pretty dangerous because they’re playing with house money right now. I don’t think anyone wants to play the Chargers right now.”

And about the 49ers, Spikes unsurprisingly said, “The key to getting back to the Super Bowl is that defense. That is one tough defense.” But despite all that, Spikes said his pick to win the Super Bowl were the Seattle Seahawks.

ESPN Sports Center anchor Neil Everett shared his thoughts on the home crowd at this season’s Florida State vs. Clemson game in Clemson, South Carolina, which featured a breakout performance by Florida State quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. “This year I was fortunate enough to be working with the Nissan Heisman House, and I got to go to five or six different venues, and that (the Clemson University home crowd) was super cool. I’d heard about it, but to actually see it in person, to see it on the big screen as they’re coming with the buses and all that, it was very exciting. It was a great atmosphere for college football.”

ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe shared her thoughts on whether she thinks next year’s playoff system will hurt the college football regular season: “I don’t think so. You saw it in the ratings this year, they were great. I think people are excited about college football and they’ll continue to be excited next year.”

I asked former Heisman Trophy winner, Super Bowl MVP, and current ESPN College Game Day analyst Desmond Howard if he thought there were any overlooked keys to victory for the championship game Monday and he said, “I don’t think so. This game’s been so dissected over the past month, that I doubt anything was overlooked. Maybe backup quarterback play? We saw it a few years back in the game between Texas and Alabama.”

This party definitely filled the Pasadena Convention Center with excitement for the big game, and there was an undeniable Taste of LA to the festivities.

Francisco Reyes is a Staff Reporter for Living Out Loud - LA, covering entertainment and sports. Follow him on Twitter: @fjr3487
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