Congratulations to all the participants in the thrilling 2005-06 Rose Bowl, and especially to the National Champion Texas Longhorns for their 41-38 victory over the USC Trojans!
On January 4th, two teams are going into the Rose Bowl undefeated - the one that stays that way will be the 2005-06 champion of National Collegiate Athletic Association football. Will it be the #1 rated University of Southern California or the #2 University of Texas? Get your Rose Bowl tickets and see it all live as you cheer on the USC Trojans or the Texas Longhorns!
The college football bowl season is so full of hype and advertising that we can forget that there is a handful of bowl games with a history so dignified that the current hoopla can't touch them. First among bowl games is the Rose Bowl, with its huge crowds and its storied contributions to the history of college football.
Pasadena, California inaugurated its New Year's Day festivities in 1890, and this Tournament of Roses (designed to make Easterners jealous of the fine California weather) chugged on until 1901 without a football game. It was not a profitable spectacle, though, and the idea to include a football game in the New Year's Day activities was almost rejected. A challenge from the University of Michigan to the University of California to play a post-season game made a New Year's Day game seem more attractive to the Pasadena organizers. Though Stanford University ended up taking the Michigan challenge, the game was a financial success and made the whole Tournament of Roses seem like a better concept.
So, why did this crew get rid of football and institute chariot races in 1903? During the third quarter of the inaugural game, Michigan was beating Stanford 49-0, and Stanford simply quit because the game had no significance (and 8,000 Californians were laughing at them). The Pasadena people thought that similar debacles would lead to financial decline, so they brought in amateur charioteers. These guys kept crashing into each other, so the Tournament of Roses hired professional charioteers. The public assumed these races were not legit, and so someone had the bright idea of bringing back the football game in 1916.
This Tournament of Roses game was more exciting, with Washington State defeating Brown 14-0. The crowds quickly grew, and sales of tickets justified a new stadium in Pasadena. The Rose Bowl was built and ready for the New Year's Day game in 1923, when USC defeated Penn State 14-0. At this point, the champion of the Pacific Coast Conference (later the Pac-10) played a top team from Back East. In 1947, though, the Rose Bowl initiated an agreement for the Pac-10 champion to play the Big Ten champion. All games since that year have sold all available tickets, some twice.
From its start as a 57,000-seat horseshoe-shaped arena, the Rose Bowl has been enlarged four times, up to 102,000 (in 1973 they crammed in 106,000 football fans). Normally, the venue now sells 93,000 tickets for the Rose Bowl Game.
Given its long existence, it should surprise no one that the game has had its share of historic firsts. In 1927, it was the first sporting event broadcast nationwide on radio. In 1952, it was the first college football game televised nationally.
The games themselves are a national tradition for New Year's Day. After the Tournament of Roses Parade, those who could not get tickets sit down and watch the Pac-10 and the Big Ten duke it out. The Pac-10/Big Ten arrangement for the Rose Bowl ran unmodified for 52 years, until the Bowl Championship Series decided to use the Rose Bowl as a national championship venue on a rotating basis. Now, there is a chance that fans will see a second-place Pac-10 or Big Ten team in the Rose Bowl, and perhaps teams from other conferences will play. Even so, this event still echoes the half-century-old traditions that have made it the biggest college football event every year.
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