Rose Bowl hosts BCS championship next season

December 19, 2000 6:38 AM
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NCAA  0-0 ytd 18-14

The Rose Bowl hosts the national championship next year when Big Ten and Pac-10 teams will be eligible to compete for the national championship in an arrangement with the Bowl Championship Series. The Rose Bowl will also host the 2002 national championship game.

The Rose Bowl history is colorful with a history going back to 1902, with the idea of a football game almost abandoned after one year. The first bowl would be later but the Tournament of Roses was staged in 1890 by members of Pasadena’s Valley Hunt Club, former residents of the East and Midwest eager to showcase their new home’s mild winter weather.

"In New York, people are buried in snow," announced Professor Charles F. Holder at a club meeting. "Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let’s hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise."

More than 2,000 people turned out on New Year’s Day to watch a parade of flower-covered carriages, followed by foot races, polo matches and tugs-of-war on the town lot. The abundance of flowers prompted Professor Holder to suggest "Tournament of Roses" as a suitable name for the festival.

During the next few years, the festival expanded to include marching bands and motorized floats. The games on the town lot (which was renamed Tournament Park in 1900) included ostrich races, bronco busting demonstrations and a race between a camel and an elephant (the elephant won). Reviewing stands were built along the parade route, and Eastern newspapers began to take notice of the event. The Tournament of Roses Association was formed to take charge of the festival, which had grown too large for the Valley Hunt Club to handle.

In l902, the Tournament of Roses Association decided to enhance the day’s festivities by adding a football game. Stanford University accepted the invitation to take on the powerhouse University of Michigan, but the West Coast team was flattened 49-0 and gave up in the third quarter. The game was never finished. The lopsided score prompted the associationt to give up football in favor of Roman-style chariot races.

In 1916, football returned to stay and the crowds soon outgrew the stands in Tournament Park. William L. Leishman, the tourna-ment’s 1920 president, envisioned a stadium similar to the Yale Bowl, the first great modern football stadium. He enlisted the help of architect Myron Hunt and builder William A Taylor, and they made plans for a stadium in Pasadena. The original stadium, a 57,000-seat horseshoe, cost $272,198.26. The tournament financed the project by offering ten-year subscription tickets for $100 each. Once it was completed, it was deeded to the City of Pasadena. Local newspaper reporter Harlan "Dusty" Hall, who also served as the tournament’s press agent, came up with the name "Rose Bowl" for the stadium, and on January 1, 1923, the tournament held its first football game there. The stadium grew with the Rose Bowl game’s popularity. In 1928, the south end was filled in, increasing the seating capacity to 76,000. Further enlargements took place in 1932 (83,677), 1949 (100,807) and 1972 (104,696). The current seating capacity is approximately 91,000, although stadium room was found for a record crowd of 106,869 on January 1, 1973.

Nicknamed "The Grand-daddy of Them All," the Rose Bowl game has been a sellout attraction every year since 1947. That year’s contest was the first game played under the tournament’s exclusive agreement with the Big Ten and Pacific Coast Conferences. (The Pacific Coast Conference’s name was changed to Pacific-8 in 1968, and to Pacific-l0 in 1978.)

Revolving bowls

Most bowls don’t have such a colorful history. Many have had an abbreviated history. There was actually a Salad Bowl (‘48-’52) and Raisin Bowl (‘46-’49). Other colorful bowl games that have been discontinued were the Mercy Bowl (’61), Gotham Bowl (‘61-’62), Garden State Bowl (‘78-’81), and Cherry Bowl (‘84-’85).

This year there are two more bowls added to the mix (mixing bowl?), resulting in a total of 26 bowls. The NCAA currently wants to freeze the number of games and is making it tough for other bowls to originate.