Trivia time: If not for John Elway, "The Play" would never have happened. Elway drove Stanford to the Cal 20 to set up what should have been the winning field goal of the 1982 contest. Too bad he called time out with eight ticks left on the clock. If he had let the clock wind down to three or four seconds before signaling for time, there wouldn't have been a kickoff. Or a return. Or a band on the field.
Guess it just didn't catch on
Between 1906 and 1914, the Big Game was rugby.
He wasn't such a great president, either …
In 1892, Herbert Hoover, future 31st president, was Stanford's glorified towel boy. He didn't do such a great job -- because of Hoover, the first game of the series was delayed for more than an hour. He'd forgotten to bring the ball.
The other big game
Stanford and Cal play each other for possession of the Axe. Once possessed, it must be protected, for stealing it is a favorite pastime -- which is why when the Axe appears in public, it's padlocked to two students. Last we heard, Stanford leads in steals, 4 to 3. Perhaps that's because they have an official "Stanford Axe Committee."
The power of the press
The day before the Big Game in 1962, Stanford pranksters filled Cal's student newspaper boxes with a faux version that sung the praises of the Cardinal.
The Stanford Daily swung into action again after "The Play" gave Cal the win in 1982. The newspaper's staff printed up and delivered fake editions of the Daily Cal saying that the NCAA had reversed the ruling on "The Play." Said one former Stanford Daily sports editor, "A lot of people freaked out, which I guess was the intended goal."
Putting "The Play" into perspective
Cal's Mariet Ford played a great game in 1982, catching seven passes for 132 yards and a TD. He also played a crucial role in "The Play," lateraling to Kevin Moen, who scored the winning TD.
In 1998, Ford was convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and three-year-old son. He's serving 45-to-life. "When I get depressed, I think back to that game," Ford told the San Francisco Chronicle's Ron Kroichick in a prison interview last year. "That one moment of time keeps me going."
An ugly brawl lays the Golden Egg
In 1926, Ole Miss beat the Bulldogs (or, as one writer called them, the "Bearded Beserkers") for the first time in more than a decade. During the tight, low-scoring game (final score: 7-6), the teams brawled. Rebels fans, in gleeful celebration, had a go at ripping down the goalposts. Bulldog fans didn't take kindly to that kind of behavior, so the unplanned postgame show featured fans of both teams bashing each other over the head with cane-bottomed chairs.
In an effort to prevent further hostilities, the two schools got together to create a gold-plated football on a pedastal, which would go to the winners. In 1927, the trophy -- called the Golden Egg because of the shape of footballs, circa 1927, debuted.
The Immaculate Deflection
In a recent Memphis Commercial Appeal poll, fans voted it the greatest play in SEC history.
They might also have voted it the strangest.
It was just a field goal attempt, one of thousands that have been attempted in the waning seconds of close games. Artie Cosby's kick might even have gone over the crossbar. But it came back, a victim of a fierce, sudden wind gust. And State lost, 24-23.
Emory Bellard, the Bulldogs' head coach, had witnessed just about everything in his three decades on the sidelines. But, he said after the game, "I've never seen a kick come backwards before."
For 50 years, the game had been called the "Battle of the Golden Egg." In 1977, the Jackson, Miss. Clarion-Ledger ran a pair of headlines that changed the name of the game forever. A preview came under the head, "Egg Bowl Is Up For Scramble." A wrap up: "Egg Bowl '77: State 18, Ole Miss 14." The following year, the Clarion-Ledger played the "Egg Bowl" theme to the hilt, and gosh darn it, the press had actually done something good and right. The name stuck.