January 2, 2019
Nicknamed “The Granddaddy of them All” – the annual football contest known as “The Rose Bowl” debuted on this date in 1902.
It was a uneven matchup with Michigan defeating Stanford 49-0. Apparently the gridiron battle was devised to help fund the Pasadena Rose Parade. But that first game was such a disaster – Stanford quit after three quarters – that the football game was abandoned for more than a decade. From the Infallible Wikipedia:
“The game was so lopsided that for the next thirteen years, the Tournament of Roses officials ran chariot races, ostrich races, and other various events instead of football. But, on New Year’s Day 1916, football returned to stay as the State College of Washington (now Washington State University) defeated Brown University in the first of what was thereafter an annual tradition.”
The Rose Bowl, as many of us knew it in the 1960’s through the 1990’s, wasn’t always a match between the Pac-8 (and then the Pac -10 with the addition of Arizona and Arizona State in 1978) and the Big-10. That tradition began in 1959 after a ‘Pay to Play’ scandal derailed the previous agreement in place since 1947.
And the tradition worked well with the Pac-10 champion meeting the Big 10 winner on New Year’s Day. Then, in 1998, with the creation of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), things changed. In both 2002 and 2006, the National Championship game was played in Pasadena . But it was not without controversy. Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:
“The 2002 game served as the BCS championship game between the BCS No. 1–ranked Miami, then a member of the Big East Conference, and the BCS No. 2–ranked Nebraska, then a member of the Big 12 Conference. The Nebraska selection as the BCS No. 2 team was controversial because Oregon was ranked No. 2 in both the AP and Coaches Polls, while Nebraska was ranked No. 4 in both polls and did not play in its conference championship game (No. 3 Colorado, who would play Oregon in that year’s Fiesta Bowl, did and won the Big 12’s automatic bid to the BCS). This prevented a West Coast team playing in the Rose Bowl for the first time, and it also marked the first matchup since 1946 not to feature the traditional pairing of Pac-10 vs. Big Ten teams.”
Since 2014, and the advent of the College Football Playoffs, the Rose Bowl traditions have seen further modifications. Now, every three years, it features one of the two playoff games. In 2015 and again in 2018, there was not a traditional Pac-10/Big-10 matchup.
For those of us who prefer tradition, today’s matchup of #9 Washington and #6 Ohio State is everything the Rose Bowl is supposed to be. It will be Ohio State’s 15th appearance and Washington’s 16th visit. But the two teams have never met in the Rose Bowl.
I have two distinct memories associated with the Rose Bowl. The first occurred at the Apple Cup on November 19, 1977. My sister, then a student at Washington State University, came to Seattle to attend the game and took her sister (I was attending the University of Puget Sound) along. It was a brilliantly sunny, but cold, day. As we approached the stadium there was a tall guy dressed all in black who held long stem red roses in his hand and was shouting “Rose Bowl Roses. Get your Rose Bowl Roses.”
We, of course, were offended by the presumption that the Huskies were going to the Rose Bowl BEFORE the game with WSU was even played! After all, Washington had to beat WSU and USC had to beat UCLA for the Huskies to earn a trip to Pasadena.
No Rose Bowl Roses were purchased by us that day. But we definitely needed the extra warmth and fortitude provided by the flask she smuggled into the stadium. We were seated in the visitors horseshoe at the far west end of the stadium. The buttressing of our spirits from the extra spirits was required as the Huskies hammered the Cougs 35-15 and USC dispatched the Bruins the next weekend. Washington flew to Southern California and, on January second (the Rose Bowl is played on the second if the first falls on a Sunday), upset heavily favored Michigan 27-20.
The other memorable Rose Bowl was 1998. We didn’t need anything warm to drink that day as my family – Parents, siblings, spouses, children, nieces and nephews – spent 10 days in Maui to celebrate our parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. My parents had arranged for condo units for each of us four siblings and our families in the Hale Hui Kai complex. Since my sister and I both had young children (they were ages 4 to 8) we were assigned ground floor units so as not to have to deal with stairs. The down side was that my unit had absolutely no view . Everyone assumed we would be at the beach with our kids most of the time. Hah! My daughter had become obsessed with the Disney animated movie Sleeping Beauty. So most every afternoon I ended up hanging out in the unit while she watched Sleeping Beauty. Unless, of course, she was across the breezeway playing Barbie’s with the cousins. Except on New Year’s Day when Sleeping Beauty was relegated to the back burner and all the guys – Dad, brothers, husband and brother in law – descended upon our unit to watch the #8 WSU Cougs take on #1 Michigan.
Although the Cougars launched a valiant effort in what was their third of four Rose Bowl appearances, they fell to the soon to be crowned national champions 21-16.
And my daughter? A couple of things are no longer true. She’s not obsessed with Sleeping Beauty; she’d be horrified at the thought of spending a Hawaiian vacation holed up in a condo; and if she had friends who started a college football fantasy league she’d participate and soon know everything about the teams and players.
I’ll be rooting for the Huskies (don’t tell the die-hard Coug fans in my family, okay?) to prevail over Ohio State, but I’m really worried about QB Dwayne Haskins and the OS offensive line. Plus with their coach, Urban Meyer, retiring they will be the sentimental pick. Currently Ohio State is favored to win but, who knows, it might just be the Huskies year for an upset. The only thing better would be to spend New Year’s Day on the beaches of Maui.
Of course the Infallible Wikipedia has so much more to share:
Update: The Huskies lost the 2019 Rose Bowl game, falling to the Buckeyes 28-23. My Dad was happy about this as in his entire life he never once rooted for the Huskies to win…