PASADENA-They say that the Rose Bowl is the Granddaddy of Them All. When it comes to history, prestige and memories, the Rose Bowl tops all bowl games. The tradition is rich. The annual Tournament of Roses, which precedes the preeminent college football game, brings to life the creativity and wondrous aura of the specialness that New Year’s Day brings. Then there is the football game. The Rose Bowl, presented by Vizio, is now in its 99th year of existence.
Every year the Rose Bowl introduces us to a folk hero that one day we can share with our children and grandchildren. That folk hero is not strapped with a cape and can leap buildings in a single bound. It is not someone armed with superhuman capabilities. No, this folk hero is as ordinary as the young man or woman bagging food at the grocery store. But then again, that hero seems to be able to do something that ordinary humans cannot do.
Every year we see these heroes on the football field, running faster than most people than imagine. We see them hurdle obstacles as if they were nothing more than a mere annoyance in their paths to greatness. We seem them fly in the air as if they’re auditioning for the next Superman movie. No, these folk heroes are not the heroes we read about in the comic books. These heroes are real. And they give us special moments to relive that would make our grandparents blush.
Every year, Americans turn on their television sets to watch these folk heroes as we reverence their every move, their every step. We gasp at any breathtaking play that they somehow are able to call down from the heavens to bless us with. Every year we are honored and privileged to watch folk heroes like two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin run opposing defenses ragged with his mesmerizing runs or catch former Wisconsin great Ron Dayne bulldozing over defenders as if they were bowling pins being set up to take a beating.
These folk heroes gives us memories to cherish like the great rivalries between Big Ten teams Michigan or Ohio State going up against West Coast power USC and its student body right offense ran to perfection by college legend Marcus Allen. Then there is the herculean effort of Texas quarterback Vince Young in his back-to-back appearances in leading the Longhorns to spectacular wins in the Rose Bowl against Michigan and USC that make us proud to be a part of.
The Rose Bowl seems to bring out the best in college football. This year’s Rose Bowl, pitting Wisconsin against Pac-12 champion Stanford, should be no different. The Rose Bowl is a game that seems to bring out the fascination of superior athletics, grace under fire and the thousands of memories and stories that are told and re-told to generations of youngsters hoping that they will one day have an opportunity to shine on college football’s grandest stage.
Those dreams were lived out by 2012 Rose Bowl Hall of Fame inductees Ron Yary, Brian Griese and former Arizona and Ohio State head coach John Cooper, folk heroes in their own right. In a stirring and emotional ceremony, Yary, who starred at USC before embarking on a Hall of Fame pro football career, was honored for his play in two Rose Bowl games as the nation’s top lineman.
Griese, who founded Judi’s House, a service that supports grieving youths, guided the Wolverines to an undefeated 1997 season and a share of the national championship. In the 1998 Rose Bowl, Griese passed for 251 yards and three touchdowns in leading Michigan to a victory against Washington State. Cooper is currently the only coach in the history of the Rose Bowl to take a team from both Big Ten and Pac-12 to the annual game. Cooper accomplished this feat with trips as head coach of Arizona State and Ohio State. No doubt the memories these three men created during their Rose Bowl appearances will last as long as folk heroes are celebrated.
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. A news and sports reporter, Dennis has written about social justice, civil rights, education, politics, and crime. He also covers the NFL, NBA, MLB as well as other sports. Based in Southern California, Dennis earned a journalism degree with a minor in criminal justice from Howard University. The real HU!!