Big Ten Bowl Trip: Rose Bowl

Dec. 24, 2007

BIG TEN BOWL TRIP: Rose | Capital One | Outback | Alamo | Champs Sports | Insight | Motor City

by Jeff Smith

In it's final stop across the country, the Big Ten Bowl Trip lands in Pasadena, a place everyone should visit at least once in their life. Located just nine miles north of downtown Los Angeles at the base of the picturesque San Gabriel Mountains, Pasadena offers a beautiful setting for southern California living, college football and of course, roses.

With a Mediterranean climate that averages 76 degrees each year, several Midwesterners have become accustomed to packing up for the holidays and heading west toward the Pacific Coast. Pasadena, a city of 140,000 people, annually plays host to the Rose Bowl Game and the long-standing New Year's Day tradition of the Rose Parade.

Now in its 119th year, the Rose Parade is a unique event that is unparalleled and unmatched by any other parade. Started in 1890 by residents of the town, the Rose Parade has now evolved into a two-and-a-half hour event that features everything from breathtaking floral floats, spirited marching bands from throughout the nation and high-stepping equestrian units. It is estimated that nearly one million people attend the parade annually, but is watched by a television audience of over 40 million Americans, as well as millions of international viewers in 150 territories around the world.

This year's Rose Parade, which begins at 11 a.m. ET on New Year's Day, will be televised nationally by ABC, NBC, Univision, HGTV, Travel Channel and Discovery HD. The 94th Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi kicks off at 5 p.m. ET on ABC.



As Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association President CL Keedy noted, the annual parade and Rose Bowl Game both began with Big Ten ties.

"The Rose Parade really started as a real estate effort," Keedy said. "The Wrigley family and several other families from the Midwest were coming out in winters to southern California. They started a club called the Valley Hunt Club and figured they needed more people in the area. They decided to decorate their carriages with roses from their gardens and parade down the main street. Take took pictures and sent them back to friends in Big Ten states, and said look what we do on New Year's Day."

But the parade wasn't enough and soon it was understood that a football game would bring more glamour to the festival.

"We tried football in 1902 with Stanford playing Michigan, but Stanford was so soundly beaten by the third quarter they quit."

The Wolverines won the first-ever Rose Bowl, 49-0, however football was not the answer at the time and it quickly took a back seat to other exciting events such as ostrich races, bronco busting demonstrations and a race between a camel and an elephant. It wasn't until 1916 that football returned to Pasadena.

But now it is a staple of the community just as the Rose Bowl and the experience it offers is the epitome of college football's postseason.

"It's the bowl game that sets the pace for other bowls," Keedy said. "You see more and more bowls going to the Football Bowl Association and request to have another bowl. Just to be the one that was the founding father of all college football bowls is pretty special."

Rose Bowl

Date: Jan. 1, 2008
Time: 2 p.m. PST
Television: ABC
Site: Pasadena, Calif.
Facility: Rose Bowl
Capacity: 92,059
Surface: Grass
Pairings: BCS
Sponsoring Association: Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association
First Game: Jan. 1, 1902 (Michigan 49, Stanford 0)
Big Ten Record: 29-31
Start of Big Ten Contract: 1946 season
Last Season: USC 32, Michigan 18

In fact the Rose Bowl is not only the longest tenured college football bowl, but it also boasts the oldest agreement between two conferences in the Big Ten and Pac-10. Words like tradition, loyalty and pride often accompany the game affectionately known as "The Granddaddy of Them All" when referred to by college football fans, media and historians. Despite being a partner in the Bowl Championship Series, a relationship that Keedy says the Rose Bowl values, it is still the top priority to match the two conferences together each season.

The fan reaction to the Rose Bowl has always been special to the Tournament of Roses. Not only is there a strong Big Ten representation in California, proof of which lies in the creation of the Big Ten Club of Southern California, but Keedy notes that Pasadena has everything to offer Big Ten fans in the Midwest during the holidays. In fact, the fan following is so good every year that it leads Keedy and the Tournament of Roses to believe that an entire state shuts down.

"We always joke, `The last person out of the state turn off the lights,'" he said. "From out here you can almost hear the suitcases shutting in Big Ten country."

It's the team and conference loyalty of the common Big Ten fan that has always impressed Keedy.

"Once you are a Big Ten fan, you are always Big Ten fan."

And once you are out in Pasadena, the area offers a wide range of shopping, dining and entertainment to take in prior to the Rose Parade and the game itself.

Visitors often shop along South Lake Avenue, a 10-block tree-lined avenue featuring 700 top retailers, boutiques, major department stores and European-style restaurants. Old Pasadena is a 22-block historical area that features 19th century building and over 200 specialty shops. Paseo Colorado is Pasadena's three-block open-air urban village with numerous restaurants and outdoor cafes. Surrounded by its scenic Mediterranean architecture, the area is also anchored by Pacific Theatre's 14-screen cinema complex, a Macy's department store, as well as 65 distinct specialty retail shops and restaurants, including Coach, Tommy Bahama, and the Yard House.

With over 500 restaurants to choose from, Pasadena offers a variety of different types of cuisine, including Madre's, an upscale Latin eatery owned by Jennifer Lopez. Or you could try one of four family restaurants in the Parkway Grill, Arroyo Chop House, Smitty's Grill, or Crocodile Café.

Relax and be pampered in one of the town's several resort and luxury hotels, including the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa, The Westin Pasadena, Hilton Pasadena, Sheraton Pasadena, and the Old Pasadena Courtyard by Marriott.

While there are so many things to in and around Pasadena, a quick drive in the rental car will put you less than an hour away from such spots as Universal Studios Hollywood (20 min.), the Los Angeles Zoo (20 min.), Santa Monica Beach (30 min.), Hollywood (30 min.), Rodeo Drive/Beverly Hills (45 min.), Six Flags Magic Mountain (45 min.), and Disneyland (55 min.).

Just make sure you have room in the camera at game time. Keedy says with the right temperature and a little rain prior to game week, the surrounding San Gabriel Mountains will appear snow-capped, while the sun nestles behind the stadium.

"It's a picturesque city, a bowl attended by more than 90,000 people and two great teams on a beautiful field," said Keedy. "I can't think of a better bowl setting than that."

But while the Rose Bowl has the true blueprint design for the ultimate bowl game and experience, Keedy says the Tournament of Roses has never become complacent. They graciously accept constructive criticism if it can improve the environment surrounding the bowl festivities. In short, something good can be great, but even something great can be better.

"We take pride in being the oldest bowl, pride in our partnerships, and pride of doing it and doing it well," he said.

Pasadena is referred to as the city that feels like a village, but some traditionalists might liken the Rose Bowl experience to that of heaven.

And just like the young football standouts growing up in the Midwest longing to one day hoist the Big Ten trophy while biting down on the stem of a rose, you too can experience the Rose Bowl.

Welcome to Pasadena! Last one out of the state turns off the lights!