Oregon State's football victory in the 2004 Civil War from six posts ago led to an Insight Bowl berth for the Beavers.
It wasn't the greatest bowl game, but after a miserable start the Beavers had to win five of their last six games to become bowl eligible. So it was a great treat for the team.
That was also my first bowl game covering the Beavers, and it comes in as No. 4 on my OSU football memories. The game was complicated because of timing. It was right after Christmas - my first one in Corvallis. My wife wanted me home and I wanted to be there with my son.
However, bowl trips are at least five days. That meant I was scheduled to be in Phoenix alone for Christmas. Well, me and Oregonian writer Paul Buker.
Going out of my way to be with my family, I worked ahead my first few days there and flew myself home on Christmas Eve on my own dollar. Traveling at that time of year was bad. I left my rental car wedged in a corner of an overflowing parking lot far from the airport.
I just made the plane to Portland. The whole airport was packed with thousands of people waiting for nearly every flight that was delayed. Miraculously, mine was not.
I got to PDX and everyone on the plane cheered that they were home, but I drove to Corvallis 90 minutes away. I came in after midnight to deliver presents like Santa and have Christmas morning with the family. By noon, I was on the road again, back to Phoenix to cover the Beavers.
Buker and I were at the Camelback Inn, a plush resort far away from anything. There were only a few people there because of the time of year. I had my own wing and he had his. It was dark and creepy. After work we would write, workout and meet for dinner.
The only option on the resort was an all-you can eat steak, seafood and desert deal for $29. So we suffered through that as our one meal a day so not to blow up our papers' travel budget.
I also had my first trip to Alice CoopersTown bar and grille on game day. That's became a must-stop every time in Phoenix. And the Beavers beat Notre Dame, but that was just an afterthought.
A funny story came up when I went to one Norte Dame practice for interviews. The Irish closed their practice back then, and probably still do. Well, the Insight Bowl people put them in a public park. So they were mad.
Little plastic fences were put up to keep people way. The Notre Dame sports information guy wanted me to stay away from practice so the Irish could put in the super secret plays.
Well, when Joe Blow public went up to watch practice, he scared them off. That's when I went up to the practice to watch. He chased me off again, and then I went back when he wasn't watching.