The buildup to the Rose Bowl continued Sunday with the USC football team participating in the Beef Bowl at Lawry's The Prime Rib in Beverly Hills, concentrating on having a great time and not trying to eat more than their Penn State counterparts did a day earlier.
"There was a just a buzz in the room that said the players were having fun," Richard R. Frank, president and chief executive officer of Lawry's Restaurants Inc., said. "(Quarterback) Mark Sanchez was going around interviewing everybody. Everybody was having a good time. It's not about what team eats the most."
Lawry's had tried to keep track of which team ate the most in the 1960s and 1970s and "for a period of time, it really was a predictor of who would win the Rose Bowl game," Frank said.
"Somewhere along the line it got out of hand and it wasn't about the event, the tradition, it became kind of a feeding frenzy," Frank said. "That's what people focused on and we said, 'That's not right.'"
Now when there is a question about how much prime rib is eaten "someone will pull a number out of the air," Frank said.
Beef Bowl attendees are allowed seconds "and that's where we try to draw the line, though from time to time there's been a player who's tried to get around that rule," Frank said.
Possibly unaware of the limit, USC All-American linebacker Rey Maualuga said before the event he would try to eat three portions of prime rib.
"I can never afford coming here paying $50 for a little prime rib, so I'm taking every advantage I can," Maualuga said. "It's free. Anything that comes to me free, I accept it."
Trojans coach Pete Carroll called the Beef Bowl "one of the great treats about the Rose Bowl preparation."
Sanchez said he liked the restaurant's salad and the unique camaraderie the event affords.
"You get all the guys together and everybody's dressed up," Sanchez said. "Everybody's poking fun about their outfits at each other because we never see each other like this. We're usually in pads with mud and dirt all over us."
The Beef Bowl was conceived in 1956 by Richard N. Frank shortly after he became Lawry's president, out of a desire "to feed the teams."
"We had no idea that it would ever turn out to be the kind of event it is now," Frank, now the company's chairman and father of Richard R. Frank.
Rose Bowl officials call their association with Lawry's the longest tie between a bowl and a corporation. It is older than 29 of this year's 34 bowl games -- all but the Rose, Orange, Cotton, Sugar and Sun bowls.