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The Rose Bowl - The Grandaddy of Them All



The first 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 the East people are buried in snow but here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let's hold a festival to show the world our paradise.

During the next few years, the festival expanded to include marching bands and motorized floats. The games on the town lot (Tournament Park) 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. In 1895, 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 1902, the Tournament of Roses decided to enhance the day’s festivities by adding a football game – the first post season college football game ever held. Stanford University accepted the invitation to take on the mighty University of Michigan, but the West Coast team was flattened 49-0 and gave up in the third quarter. Michigan finished the season 11–0 and was considered the national champion. The game was so lopsided that for the next 15 years, the Tournament of Roses officials ran chariot races, ostrich races, and other various events instead of football.

In 1916, football returned to stay for the first annual Rose Bowl. Games were played in Pasadena's Tournament Park, approximately three miles southeast of the current Rose Bowl stadium. Tournament Park was determined to be unsuitable for the larger crowds gathering to watch the game and a new, permanent home for the game was commissioned. The new stadium hosted its first New Year’s football game in 1923 and soon earned the nickname “The Rose Bowl” and has been the highest attended college football bowl game…..and a continual sell out since 1947. With the parade in the morning, and the bowl game in the afternoon, it is always held on New Years Day unless New Years falls on a Sunday then the combined event is held on the following Monday.

The stadium seating has been reconfigured several times since its original construction in 1922 and for many years had the largest football stadium capacity in the United States. The maximum stated seating capacity was 104,594 from 1972 to 1997 (the attendance for the 1973 Rose Bowl was 106,869 an NCAA record). Capacity was lowered to 93,000 following the 1998 Rose Bowl and the 2006 Rose Bowl, which was also the BCS championship game, had a crowd of 93,986. As of 2008, the Rose Bowl is still number eleven on the List of American Football stadiums by capacity, and is still the largest stadium that hosts post-season bowl games. The Rose Bowl is also the only BCS bowl game that is held in a non-NFL stadium. The Tournament of Roses has come a long way since its early days. The Rose Parade’s elaborate floats now feature high-tech computerized animation and exotic natural materials from around the world. Although a few floats are still built exclusively by volunteers from their sponsoring communities, most are built by professional float building companies and take nearly a year to construct. The year-long effort pays off on New Year’s morning, when millions of viewers around the world enjoy the Rose Parade.

Beginning with the 1947 Rose Bowl, the Pacific Coast representative was the home team, and the Big Nine representative was with visiting team. This arrangement would alternate each year. The stadium seating started with the Big Nine representatives in the end zone, but eventually was set with the Big Ten fans and team on the West (press box) side, and Pacific-10 fans and team on the East side. The home team wears their home jerseys, and the visiting team wears the visiting jerseys. There have been exceptions. UCLA wore their home jerseys in the 1962, 1966, and 1976 Rose Bowl games. From 1947 through 2001, the Big Ten team was the home team in even-numbered years, and the Pac-10 team was the home team in odd-numbered years. Since 1998, with the creation of the Bowl Championship Series, team selection for the Rose Bowl is now tied to the other three BCS bowls, although in any given year the Rose Bowl still attempts, if possible, to maintain the traditional Pac-10 versus Big Ten format.

Now, as part of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), the Rose Bowl has hosted the BCS National Championship Game between the top two teams in the nation in 2002 and 2006, and will host the National Championship again in 2010. In the current BCS alignment, the Rose Bowl will host the designated Big Ten and PAC-10 conference representatives unless they are involved in the BCS National Championship Game. Rose Bowl game representative teams from the Big Ten and PAC-10 conferences are chosen by the specific rules for each conference. Tiebreaker rules exist when multiple teams tie for the conference championship. Except in the years when the Rose Bowl served as the BCS National Championship Game, the Rose Bowl Game has continued to be played in the afternoon. (Starting with the 2006 season (2007 game), there has been a separate BCS National Championship Game.) In 2010, the Tournament of Roses will host the Citi BCS National Championship Game in a separate game to be held on January 7th at 5:00 P.M. The Rose Bowl Game will be held on January 1, 2010.

For many years the Rose Bowl spurned sponsorship, but for the 1999 Rose Bowl, the game became known as The Rose Bowl Game presented by AT&T. Unlike the other bowl games, the sponsor was not added to the title of the game, but instead as a presenter. In 2002 it was branded The Rose Bowl Game presented by PlayStation 2. Since 2003, when the agreement with Sony expired, the game has been presented by Citi.

From 1952 to 1988, the Rose Bowl was televised by NBC in a 1 p.m. PST time slot, the only New Year's bowl airing at that time. The 1962 Rose Bowl was the first college football game broadcast in color. Since 1989, it has been broadcast on ABC, usually at 2 p.m. PST. While FOX has secured the broadcasting rights to the other Bowl Championship Series games, the Rose Bowl, which negotiates its own television contracts independent of the BCS, has agreed to keep the game on ABC. The 2005 Rose Bowl was the first one broadcast in HDTV. After the 2009-10 season, ESPN will have the contract to broadcast the BCS games, except the Rose Bowl game, from 2011 to 2014.

USC has played the most times in the Rose Bowl, with 32 appearances, followed by Michigan (20), Washington (14), and Ohio State (13). Alabama, 4-1-1 in Rose Bowls, has made the most appearances of any team outside the Pac-10 and Big Ten conferences, and even references the game in its fight song.

USC has won the most Rose Bowls (23), followed by Michigan (8), Washington (7), and Ohio State (6). Michigan has lost the most (12), followed by USC (9), UCLA and Ohio State (7 each). Of teams appearing at the Rose Bowl at least 4 times, Alabama and Michigan St. have the greatest winning percentage (0.75), followed by USC (0.72) and Illinois (0.60). From the 1947 Rose Bowl, when the Big Ten-Rose Bowl agreement began, through the 1972 Rose Bowl, the Big Ten did not allow its teams to appear in the Rose Bowl in consecutive years. Also of note, during this era Big Ten and Pac-8 teams could play only in the Rose Bowl; this restriction was not lifted until the 1975 season.

The only current member of the PAC-10 or the Big Ten to have never appeared in the Rose Bowl is the University of Arizona. Idaho and Montana, who were members of the Pacific Coast Conference from 1922 until 1958 and 1950 respectively, never finished near the top in the PCC football standings. The University of Chicago discontinued football in 1939, and had its best years in the first decade of the 20th century.

The Rose Bowl was exclusively a Big Ten/Pac-10 affair for 52 years, from the 1947 Rose Bowl through the 1998 Rose Bowl. While the Big Ten dominated the game in the late 1940s and 1950s, and the Pac-10 dominated during the 1970s and early 1980s, over the entire 52-year span, each conference won 26 games.

The most valuable player in the Rose Bowl game is given a crystal trophy that is the “Rose Bowl Player of the Game Award”. The award was created in 1953 and awarded retroactively for players all the way back to the1902 Rose Bowl. Occasionally, the award has been shared by two players. Beginning with the 2005 Rose Bowl, the Rose Bowl Player of the Game Award has been given to both offensive and defensive players of the game.

Beginning with the 2002 Rose Bowl, Nebraska was the home team and fans and team were on the East sideline. Since 2006, the home team has been the team with the highest BCS season ending ranking. For the 2005 Rose Bowl, the Michigan team was on the East sideline, Texas was the visiting team and was on the West sideline. For the 2006 Rose Bowl, USC was the home team and Texas was the visiting team on the West sideline. Traditionally, the Big Ten (or its BCS replacement) is on the West side (press box) and the Pac-10 team is on the East side.

The institution with the highest BCS ranking performs the national anthem, and performs first at halftime. Except in BCS championship years, the National Anthem is performed by the band. In BCS Championship years, a performer has been invited to sing the Anthem. The Rose Bowl does not have other performers during the halftime show besides the school marching bands. As part of the television contract, a portion of each band's halftime performance is shown on television. Each school and each conference are allocated television spots to advertise.

Since 2005 USA Sports Marketing has been producing and distributing an exclusive limited edition Rose Bowl Champions football. This football is manufactured by Wilson Sporting Goods, an official supplier to the NCAA, and is fully licensed by the respective universities and the Collegiate Licensing Commission (CLC). Each football arrives in a Wilson commemorative box and is accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity.