PAC-10 runner-up California finished fourth in the final human polls but lost ground to Texas each of the past three weeks in the BCS rankings. The Golden Bears pulled away from Southern Miss late in the fourth quarter for a closer-than-expected 26-16 win that might have had more to do with swaying voters than Brown's appeal following the Texas A&M game.
"All eyes were on college football yesterday and that was probably what changed the vote," Brown said.
It's no secret that Rose Bowl officials preferred to have paired Big Ten and PAC-10 opponents. The Rose Bowl is contracted with the BCS through 2014.
"We all know that we are traditionalists from the standpoint of wanting either a Big Ten or PAC-10 team," said Dave Davis, President of the Tournament of Roses Association. "But we are under BCS rules and we need to comply with BCS rules. Therefore, we are committed to putting on the very best game we can for these two wonderful teams."
Given the bowl's historic alliance with the PAC-10, Brown concedes there is added pressure for his squad to represent well its first BCS berth in that particular venue.
"We know that Cal had a tremendous year and Jeff Tedford is one of the best coaches in the country," Brown said. "They played with such heart all year and they played well last night. I know there is a tremendous amount of pressure (on Texas) coming in from the outside."
Already, a stampede of Longhorn fans have made it clear they are coming in from the outside as well. Within a couple of hours of the Rose Bowl announcement, Orangebloods had already snapped up 8,000 tickets, Texas AD DeLoss Dodds reported. By comparison, Texas barely sold 5,000 tickets during the three weeks preceding last year's Holiday Bowl.
"You will never have a group more excited about coming to Pasadena than Texas Longhorns," Brown said, who later added, "The good news is we're going to the Rose Bowl; the bad news is we're playing Michigan."
The Wolverines (9-2) fell to archrival Ohio State, 37-21 on Nov. 20, but clinched the Rose Bowl berth because of its earlier win over conference co-champ Iowa. The 91st Rose Bowl matches two of college football's three winningest programs but ones that will meet for the first time, 3:30 p.m. (CST) on ABC and ESPN Radio.
"When you talk Texas and Michigan, you're talking about two of college football's most tradition-rich programs," said Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, who first met Brown 25 years ago at a high school football game in Chicago. "It's something that excites all of us. It's a game that everyone in the country will want to see."
Carr watched Texas knock off the Aggies, 26-13, last month. Other than that, he's seen highlights of Texas' 10-1 regular season.
"There's no question that their high ranking is deserved," Carr said of Texas' No. 4 finish in the final BCS ratings. "If you look at what (Brown) has done since going to Texas, year in and year out, it's one of the best programs in the country."
Carr admitted he was not particularly surprised by Texas' overnight gain in the BCS poll.
"I don't know that I was surprised because everyone understood that it was very, very close in terms of the roles that the computers were going to play in the final selection," he said. "I really can't tell you that I understand the whole process. Sure, there is tremendous disappointment at The University of California because those kids grew up watching the Rose Bowl and dreaming of being in the Rose Bowl. All of us feel badly for them but the system is what it is. But the game between Texas and Michigan will certainly be a football game that everyone in the country will enjoy watching."
Brown could write a book on his near-misses with the BCS, and referenced his team's last-minute disappointment of just missing out on a BCS when Kansas State upset OU in the 2003 Big 12 title game.
"I have feelings for Jeff (Tedford) and Cal because we were in the same position last year," Brown said. "We were supposed to play Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl and it got taken away from us."
The Horns have actually played at the Rose Bowl, losing 49-31 to then No. 6 UCLA during Brown's first year at Texas in 1998. Texas previously played in the Fiesta Bowl as the 1996 Big 12 champ in the Bowl Alliance, the predecessor to the BCS, but lost to Penn State, 38-15.
"This is really important because there have been so many near-misses and so many disappointments," Brown said. "We haven't beaten OU and that's been difficult for our staff and our kids to handle. But our group is excited about this game because it's a dream come true for this senior class."
It's just that Brown has been dreaming about it a lot longer than the Class of '05.