THE ‘60s AND ‘70s marked a tumultuous pair of decades for the Panda Bowl, bringing forth new traditions, new pranks, and the end of Jamie Barresi’s four-year stay on the Gee-Gees as a quarterback.
“I really enjoyed the guys,” said Barresi, the current coach of the men’s football team. There was certainty and grit in his voice—you can tell he is a man of experience. And the Panda Bowl was a defining component of his U of O sojourn. The Panda Bowl defined an unrivaled U of O vs. Carleton rivalry and Pedro was the prized possession that went to the victor each year.
In 1958, Pedro gained his own experience when he toured Canadian and American universities, with rumoured trips to Peru, Mexico, and Europe. But Pedro was still young and boisterous.
In 1967, both Carleton University and the U of O partook in shenanigans and raids on each other’s campuses. Vandalism—among other pranks—rose to an all-time high, and because of this, the Panda Bowl itself came under threat of suspension.
In 1968, in order to save the Panda Bowl, the traditional Hate Week which had preceded the event was renamed Love Week. Pedro, at the age of 13, had become a flower child.
In 1977, during Barresi’s second year on the team, five pigs were released onto the field during half-time. The box from which they escaped was labeled “Carleton Pork Chops.” Charges were pressed against the U of O students responsible for the incident.
In 1979, Pedro retired to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in Hamilton, Ont. This was also the same year that Barresi retired from his role as quarterback for the Gee-Gees.
To say that Pedro was born a perfect bear within a perfect tradition would be to overlook the various steps the event had taken to continue what it was until 1998. We all face tough times.
“During my second season [in ‘77] the coach was about to cut me,” said Barresi.
But instead, the coach decided to keep the young Gee-Gee.
Finally, during the last game of the season against Bishop’s University, Barresi played as the first string and went on to win a hard-fought 31–24 victory for the Gee-Gees. Bishop’s was considered to be one of the best teams at the time.
Barresi said the Panda Bowl was a very defining occasion. The main focus of the event was its grandeur and boisterousness, which could seem overwhelming at times.
After a 17-year hiatus, the Panda Bowl has returned. “I’m hoping it’ll be a positive experience,” said Barresi. “Everyone is working hard. The student-athletes are involved as much as the staff and schools. It’s a different era too, so hopefully there’ll be a new vibe—a renewed interest in the players.”
Only time will tell how the new era of the Panda Bowl will play out.