Rose Bowl rejects

Even in the midst of Mecca, not all is perfect. Channel yourself back to Pasadena on New Year's of 2000. Forget blue skies and sunshine. Wisconsin brought both its Model T offense and dreary weather to the Rose Bowl, as overcast and rain put a damper on the atmosphere. Shorts and sandals would have been as effective that day as Stanford's running game...

Another bone to pick with that day: The opening verses of the Star Spangled Banner, especially in the Stanford Band's arrangement, deserve complete silence from the audience. I couldn't wait to hear the lone trumpet play the opening verses. I'm still waiting. No doubt fueled by too much, shall we say, liquid patriotism, the oblivious Badger cheering section would not shut up. Very disrespectful.

But guess what? At least the Cardinal saw the Promised Land.

My point: You may be of the belief that Stanford was wrongly barred from the Grandaddy this year, take a number. You'll queue up behind a host of other teams through the years who've been hosed in even worse fashion. Look no further than the team that handed Big 10 participant Wisconsin – back for their first appearance since Y2K – its only loss of the year. A lot of quality squads would trade unruly opposing fans and lousy weather to not even being there at all.

2010 Michigan State (11-1)

Sons of Sparty, we feel your pain. A team you beat goes to the Rose Bowl, while you settle for the What's In Your Wallet Bowl. Even a squad wearing your uniforms deserves better than that. You tied with Ohio State and Wisconsin atop the Big Ten. Ohio State lost to Wisconsin, who lost to you. The Big Ten conference would rather use the BCS standings – instead of common sense – as a tiebreaker. That's too bad, but hurt feelings have their place in your conference's lore.

1973 Michigan (10-0-1)

Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes offered strong feelings once their 10-0 teams played to a 10-10 tie and the Big Ten scrambled to determine which side would go to Pasadena. Upon arriving for the Rose Bowl, Woody called it a "tragedy" that the focus was not on his Buckeyes, who claimed their prize only when conference athletic directors voted them in. Bo called getting left out the greatest disappointment of his coaching career.

Both sides had their arguments. Michigan shut out three opponents and won its conference games by an average of 27 points. Ohio State didn't allow a point in four Big Ten games and beat conference foes by a 38-point margin. In a hastily convened conference call, Big Ten athletic directors voted 6-4 in favor of Ohio State. The "yea" voters cited Wolverine quarterback Dennis Franklin's broken collarbone, suffered in the fourth quarter against the Buckeyes, which would have forced him to miss the Rose Bowl. Michigan's record from 1972-1974: 30 wins, 2 losses, 1 tie, zero bowls.

1961 Ohio State (8-0-1)

The Buckeyes finished No. 2 in the final polls to Alabama (not the last time they'd finish the bowl season behind an SEC team), with fullback Bob Ferguson winning the Maxwell Award and finishing second in the Heisman to Ernie Davis. Hayes was in line for his third Rose Bowl trip. But then the school's faculty committee, believing their school emphasized football too much, voted by a 28-25 margin to keep the Buckeyes home for the holidays. Can you imagine that happening today?

Minnesota backed into its most recent Pasadena berth, while the Ohio State campus erupted in riots. The protestors finally relented, but only when Hayes had his captains tell them to accept the school's decision.

1954 UCLA (9-0)

In select years between 1946 until 1967, a rule prevented a team from reaching the Rose Bowl in consecutive seasons. This Bruin edition was the finest team that decree ever kept from Pasadena. Coach Red Sanders' group saw a USC team it beat 34-0 reach the Rose Bowl against unbeaten Ohio State. Back then, the national champion was crowned before the bowl games. The Buckeyes claimed the AP national crown, while UCLA earned the title with a top spot in the coaches' poll. What a game that should have been.

1948 Oregon (9-2)

Two teams shared 7-0 records that year atop the Pacific Coast Conference, but Cal earned the nod to face Northwestern in the Rose Bowl. The Bears and Ducks didn't face each other, leading to a postseason tiebreaking vote that tabbed the Bears. The Norm Van Brocklin-led Ducks settled for facing Doak Walker and SMU in the Cotton Bowl, losing 21-13.


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