Pasadena, Calif., celebrates 100 years of the ROSE BOWL.It’s a sporting original — our oldest college bowl game — and 2014 marks its 100th playing, a sweet, round number for an iconic event that actually was born more than a century ago. In 1902, teams from Michigan and Stanford met at Tournament Park in Southern California (where Caltech’s athletic field is today), for what was conceived as an annual East-West matchup. Though the venue had seating for only 1,000, some 8,500 spectators rushed to watch the contest that Michigan won 49-0. The overflow crowd (and the lopsided score) prompted event organizers to rethink the proceeding. The following year, chariot races were held instead. But in 1916, football — and what eventually became the Rose Bowl — returned for good.
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Ah, yes. The game. It will unfold at the renowned Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, as it has every year since 1922. This time around, the stadium, a National Historic Landmark, is fresh off a $181 million renovation designed to heighten safety and improve fan experience. It includes new suites, loge boxes and premium seating, widened pedestrian tunnels and a high-definition video board and scoreboards around the stadium’s rim.
They are worthy upgrades for a game that has given us a lengthy list of firsts: first local radio broadcast of an East- West bowl game (1926); first transcontinental broadcast of a sporting event (1927); first coast-to-coast color telecast of a collegiate football game (1962); and, this year, of course, yet another: the first bowl game to celebrate 100 years of gridiron matchups. In honor of the occasion, the Rose Bowl has a new logo and the Rose Bowl Game trophy has been embellished with 24K yellow-gold and vermeil accents — fitting tributes to a contest rightly known as the Granddaddy of Them All. Among its remarkable characteristics is how gracefully it has aged.
Memorable Rose Bowl Moments
1922: Construction of the horseshoeshaped stadium, with seating for 57,000, is completed and is deeded to the city of Pasadena by the Tournament of Roses Association.
1925: The legendary Four Horsemen of Notre Dame (Harry Stuhldreher, Don Miller, Jim Crowley and Elmer Layden) take the field against Ernie Nevers of Stanford. Notre Dame wins, 27-10.
1941: Underdog Stanford surprises Nebraska by unveiling a wide-open offense called the “T formation.” Stanford wins, 21-13.
1950: The Rose Bowl becomes the first bowl game to have 100,000 spectators attend.
1975: In one of the most stirring contests in Rose Bowl history, University of Southern California quarterback Pat Haden completes a 38-yard touchdown pass to J.K. McKay with 2:03 left on the clock. Instead of attempting an extra point to tie the game with Ohio State, USC goes for a two point conversion. The attempt is successful, and the Trojans triumph, 18-17.
1979: In what is later dubbed the “Phantom Touchdown,” USC running back Charles White appears to lose the ball while diving for the goal line, but the play is ruled a touchdown.
1997: Final-second heroics by Ohio State reserve quarterback Joe Germaine push the Ohio State Buckeyes to a 20-17 victory over Arizona State University. It is ASU’s only loss that year.