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Purdue's Pasadena Parade
By Bob Griese
Special to BCSfootball.com

When you grow up in the Midwest, especially when you go to a Big Ten school, the biggest thing you can do is win the Big Ten and go to the Rose Bowl. Back then, teams didn't go to other bowls, because there was a rule in place where no other team could go to a bowl game. It was the Rose Bowl or nothing, and that made it even more important. It was a big deal.

Bob Griese was the Heisman runner-up in the 1966 season.
In the 1966 season, Notre Dame and Michigan State were ranked 1 and 2, respectively. The schools had faced each other that year and played to a 10-10 tie. At Purdue, we lost two games and finished 9-2. Our losses were to Michigan State and Notre Dame, both on the road. Although Michigan State won the Big Ten championship, there was a rule that didn't allow Big Ten teams to go to the Rose Bowl in consecutive years.

Therefore, because Michigan State went to the Rose Bowl the year before, they couldn't go again and we represented the Big Ten. We had a good ball club, but not the caliber of either Michigan State or Notre Dame.

My son, Brian, who took an undefeated Michigan team to the Rose Bowl in 1997 and ultimately won the national championship, likes to remind me that when I went to the Rose Bowl, Purdue didn't win the Big Ten. He took Michigan and they won the Big Ten championship. He also reminds me that he was the Most Valuable Player.

I have no response to that.

I almost felt like the alumni and fans who had been following Purdue football had never been west of the Mississippi. When we won our last game and knew we were going to the Rose Bowl, I felt I was leading the entire Purdue contingent to the Promised Land, which was Pasadena, sort of like Moses in "The Ten Commandments." It was incredible.

Remember the picture of Drew Brees with a rose in his teeth after Purdue beat Indiana? The picture I remember was head coach Jack Mollenkopf holding a football and a rose after the Indiana game.

So this was the first time Purdue had ever been to a bowl game, and it was special. So, a few of my frat brothers and I had a project. We were business majors, and had an idea to capitalize on this opportunity. We came up with a bumper sticker with the slogan: "Purdue's Pasadena Parade." Those things went like hot cakes. We only had about 500, but we could have sold at least 5,000.

The whole experience was uncharted land for us. The coaches didn't know how to schedule practice, so everything we did was improvised. Contrast that with Bobby Bowden and how he's won 16 of his last 18 bowl games. He says he has the "formula" of when to practice, how hard to work the guys, when to lay off, how much time to give you to have fun once you get there, etc. We didn't have a formula. Jack didn't know how hard to work us, when to bring us back, how hard to hit, so we just went out there and did what we thought was right.

When we left West Lafayette, it was cold, and when we got out there, it was balmy -- completely out of the realm of what we knew December to be like.

For Purdue, it was enough that we were there playing in the Rose Bowl. We didn't have to win it to be satisfied.
Bob Griese

We played Southern California and I remember the game was like a dream. The Rose Bowl was full of people. I almost wished I could have watched it rather than play in it. There was just so much pageantry.

We didn't play particularly well, maybe all the outside stuff had something to do with that, but we still won the game 14-13. In those days, I kicked extra points and field goals also. And I remember kicking the extra points thinking they wouldn't mean anything later on, but they ended up being crucial. Late in the fourth quarter, USC scored to make it 14-13. They went for two and George Catavolos intercepted the pass attempt to clinch the victory.

The whole thing was surreal. The entire time there was a feeling like, "Are we really here?" Football players and coaches don't like to hear this, but we didn't care whether we won or not. You hear people say all the time, "We don't want to get to the Super Bowl, we want to win it." Of course, Jack Mollenkopf, the coaches and players all wanted to win it, and we did. But for Purdue, it was enough that we were there playing in the Rose Bowl. We didn't have to win it to be satisfied.

I had many great football memories after that, but certainly, the 1967 Rose Bowl was the pinnacle of my collegiate career. I felt a great sense of responsibility and was real proud of what we did. Taking the fans and everyone to the Rose Bowl was the greatest highlight, for me. Just being out there, seeing all the people, going to the Christmas party, visiting Universal Studios, eating at Lowery's. The overriding factor was that we were taking part in something no one else had. We were the first, and there's something to be said for that.

Now, 34 years later, this is the second. I equate this to playing in Super Bowls. It was the first big game we really played in. It was the game on the college bowl day, Jan. 1.

Of all the Big Ten teams to play in the Rose Bowl, Indiana and Purdue have gone the fewest number of times. Michigan has gone 17 times, Ohio State 13, and Purdue and Indiana have gone one time each. Purdue has suffered the longest drought, until this year.

To this year's Boilermakers, I would say enjoy the experience. For three years, there's been all the hard work, practice and study. That was the main course, and this is the dessert. This is the reward. You've earned it. You'll go out, have some fun, and do some things you've never done before. The game is not for a national championship; it's not for anything except for the reward and sense of achievement of what you've done this season.

It's special, it's a long time coming, and hopefully, with Joe Tiller there, it won't be another 34 years before they go again.

Hall of Fame quarterback and ABC college football analyst Bob Griese was a two-time All-America selection at Purdue. He is a regular contributor to BCSfootball.com.

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