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The History of the Rose Bowl Game

November 16, 2015 | Rose Bowl

1902 Game ActionThe Rose Bowl Game, known as The Granddaddy of Them All, is as much of a tradition of college football as marching bands and fight songs.

The game was originally dubbed the "Tournament East-West football game" in 1902, and played in Pasadena's Tournament Park, on the Caltech campus. But after Michigan routed Stanford 49-0 (Stanford quit after three quarters), a football game was replaced by other forms of entertainment, including ostrich and chariot races.

But in 1916, football came back to stay.

The Big Ten Comes Aboard

After 30 years of inviting various schools without regard to conferences, in 1946 the Big Nine (now known as the Big Ten) Conference agreed to a five-year deal that would match teams from the Midwest and the West Coast.  The 1947 game was the birth of a tradition unmatched in college sports when the Big Ten Conference sent its champion to Pasadena.

In the years since the Big Ten's inclusion in the Rose Bowl Game, legends were created and dynasties were built.

The University of Southern California has the most game appearances and wins, with 33 and 24, respectively. Legendary Trojans coach John McKay won four National Championships (and a record five Rose Bowl Games) on Pasadena's storied turf.

From the Big Ten, the University of Michigan has made the most New Year's Day appearances in Pasadena, with 20 overall appearances and eight wins; good for second place behind USC. But in one of the great anomalies of sports, Hall of Famer Bo Schembechler coached 10 Rose Bowl games for the Wolverines but had a record of only 2-8.  

Today, the prominence and prestige of the Rose Bowl Game is reflected in its inclusion as one of six bowl games that is a part of the College Football Playoff. The Rose Bowl Game hosted the first-ever College Football Playoff Semifinal in 2015 and will again host a semifinal game in 2018.

While more than a century has passed since its inception, this grand game is poised for future generations of legends to etch their names into the annals of Pasadena glory.

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