Can TCU Topple the Tournament of Roses?

Can TCU Topple the Tournament of Roses?

Say what you will about Southern California – too much traffic, outrageous taxes, sky high home prices, etc. Truth is, we’re all jealous and some part of us wishes we lived there. Why?

How about hundreds of miles of beautiful coastline, world class dining, sporting and entertainment possibilities, tons of cultural diversity, and whether you admit it or not – we’re all addicted to star gazing. The Hollywood crowd is America‘s version of the British Royal Family and they all live and play in Southern California.

But those aren’t really the reasons we’re jealous. Outside of maybe Hawaii and Greece, Southern California has the greatest WEATHER on planet earth. You just can’t beat it.

And there is nothing more Southern Californian, or no celebration more symbolic of the beautiful Southern California climate than the annual Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl football game.

While 75% of the country is frozen solid on January 1st each year, The Rose Parade and Rose Bowl football game are held every New Years in beautiful and usually sunny Pasadena, CA. If you’ve ever been to a Rose Parade you might have noticed the color suit all the parade officials wear. It’s white and it’s a celebratory in-your-face to the rest of country where we all know that fashion rules state that you don’t wear white after Labor Day. Not in Southern California where it’s not abnormal to be in the 70’s on New Year’s Day. History of the Rose Parade

Having grown up in Southern California and actually lived in Pasadena till age 10, I enjoyed the Rose Parade many times. It was a lot of fun to camp out with my family along the parade route the night before to reserve a front row seat. As the parade rolled by the next morning, my favorite part was always the floats and accompanying marching bands of the Rose Bowl game participants.

Funny thing about those floats and marching bands and cheerleaders and all – I seem to recall they always belonged to teams like USC, UCLA, Michigan, Washington, Ohio State or Iowa. I don’t seem to remember ever seeing a team named Texas Christian University from an out of the way football conference.

The “Granddaddy of them all” as the game is often referred to, is also the granddaddy of them all when it comes to the old school and the good ole boys club that is college football. For about 60 years now, the Rose Bowl has pitted the PAC-10 against the BIG-10. The Rose Bowl was not happy a few years ago when they were forced to desecrate their game by actually allowing teams outside those conferences to participate. They of course had to acquiesce and align themselves with the BCS cartel. In certain years, when circumstances dictate, the Rose Bowl allows for someone outside the PAC-10 and BIG-10 conferences to play in the game. Such is the case this year when the PAC-10 champion, Oregon, is not playing in the Rose Bowl, rather the BCS championship game. What the Rose Bowl did not intend on ever having to do though is completely slum it with a non-AQ team from the Mountain West Conference. Chris Dufresne from the LA Times best explains how this happened. “…..When the new four-year BCS contract was drawn up, the Rose Bowl agreed to take the highest-ranked BCS-qualified “non-AQ” school the first year it lost an anchor to the national title game.

Think of the most exclusive, prestigious country club in your community. Now imagine that club being forced to allow the local hero from the 9-hole, city-owned course into their premiere annual golf tournament.

It’s like Happy Gilmore – only, TCU is no beer league hockey player, turned long driver. TCU is a finely tuned machine, hell bent on winning the game, and respect. Don’t think head coach, Gary Patterson isn’t still smarting from last year’s BCS loss to Boise State. BYU fans will remember the legendary motivational tactics of Patterson. He had practice field tackling dummies outfitted with BYU helmets for an entire year after TCU lost a close game in Provo in 2007. TCU has since destroyed BYU in their last 3 games by a combined score of 101-17.

TCU is not only squaring off against a tremendous Wisconsin running attack, they are taking on the Rose Bowl establishment, which in many ways is representative of the overall roadblock in the path to college football equality. You could make the argument that a TCU win in this game would be the biggest BCS buster to date. Andy Dalton, TCU quarterback, stated, “We’re not just representing TCU, we’re representing all the non-AQ schools.”

Of course the Boise State/Oklahoma game will always be the greatest BCS buster moment but think about this – Wisconsin did not lose their way into this game like Alabama did when they played Utah in the Sugar Bowl. Oklahoma would have rather been elsewhere in that classic 2007 Fiesta Bowl. Wisconsin is no Pittsburgh when they got hammered by Utah in 2005.

Wisconsin believes they could beat both Oregon and Auburn. Not only are the Badgers representing the Big-10 and therefore upholding at least 50% of the storied “purity” of the Rose Bowl – they are expected to restore order and send the lowly non-AQ school back where it came from – a 2nd tier conference. (Yes, I know TCU will soon be heading to the Big-East, which is frankly no better than the MWC)

The game on the field should be fantastic on Saturday. TCU is about a 3 point favorite. However, the real story will be if TCU can wreak havoc on the pageantry and splendor of the Rose Bowl game itself. Everbody in America loves a great parade and the Rose Parade is fantastic. The accompanying football game though is slightly more high brow and overthrowing the Rose Bowl would be another huge step in overthrowing the good ole boy network that is college football.

Matt Nielson has been writing about the college sports landscape in Utah and the Intermountain West since 2010. When he’s not pretending to be a professional blogger, he works full time as a residential real estate agent and house flipper. Matt graduated from Brigham Young University in 2000. He and his family reside in Salt Lake City, UT.


  1. Matt Nielson
    Matt Nielson01-01-2011

    I'm afraid they still won't receive any outside of the Dallas/Ft. Worth writers. Unless Auburn/Oregon is a sloppy 17-10 game or something like that.

  2. Andrew

    Great post, Matt. I am pumped for the RB now. How many first place votes do you think TCU will get if they win?

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