Looking back: Did you know these facts on the Rose Bowl?

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Now that Christmas is over, we all have to shift to the next big event — football. I know that some of you could care less about who wins the different bowl games, but there are those who truly care.

Recently, I ran across some interesting facts about some of the bowl games in the 1976 issue of The Atmore Advance. I thought it might be fun to test ourselves as readers did 40 years ago.

I was able to gather some interesting facts about the Rose Bowl and since that one is considered “The Granddaddy of Them All” of bowl games, I thought I would start with that.

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The first Rose Bowl was played in 1902 and has been played annually since 1916. From 1903 to 1915, the games were so lopsided, they were suspended and instead, chariot races were held at the stadium. This was at a time when the movie, “Ben Hur,” was popular.

The football game was an after thought to make money to pay for the Rose Parade. It went on to become one of the biggest.

Most of us measure our football by our own teams of Alabama and Auburn. Alabama has attended six Rose Bowls and won most of those times.

In looking up facts I ran across an old name. I grew up in Ozark in the Wiregrass. When I was a little girl, I attended the Peanut Festival Parade in Dothan and one name I remembered as being the grand marshal in one of those parades was Johnny Mack Brown. He was known to me as a western cowboy actor, but imagine my surprise to find out he was an excellent football player.

Brown was born and raised in Dothan and then went on to play at Alabama. He won the Most Valuable Player Award in 1926, when Alabama beat the Washington Huskies, 20-19. He then went on to Hollywood and made a name for himself in the movie industry.

Another fact that I found was that the Rose Bowl was actually played outside of Pasadena in 1942. This was right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and there was a lot of fear of a surprise attack on the California coast. They moved the game to Durham, N.C.

Have you ever heard of Roy Riegels? Well, neither had I. It seems that Riegels played for the University of California at Berkeley in the 1920s. His blunder is cited as being the worst in the history of college football.

In 1929, Riegels and his California Golden Bears were playing the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. He scooped up a Georgia Tech fumble and ran 64 yards the wrong way down the field. The two-point safety on the ensuing punt proved to be the game winner for the other team.

How embarrassing that must have been.

Another thing you may not know is that, although the Rose Bowl is played on Jan. 1, there have been times it has taken place on Jan. 2, and it will again this year.

Apparently, there is a rule that there is no game on Sunday because back in the beginning, horses were used to pull the floats in the parade. It was feared that the horses in the parade would frighten horses hitched outside churches. Although there are now no horses parked outside the churches, the tradition remains to this day.

So plan on watching your bowl games. I will certainly be watching one. Alabama will play Washington in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Ga., on Sat., Dec. 31.

Auburn will play Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Mon., Jan. 2, and the Rose Bowl will be played the same day between Penn State and USC. If I had the room, I would have included some of the other games.

I hope you have enjoyed some of the tidbits I found.