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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.Read the full Rose Bowl Article
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