January 1, 1970
Southern Cal 10, Michigan 3
56th Rose Bowl Game
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
For someone who has been to hundreds of sporting events, this is one I’ll never forget.
We climbed aboard a well-stocked charter bus which pulled onto Hollywood Boulevard around 6 a.m. The group of four Michigan freshmen was about to experience a journey we’d like to forget.
Our grandstand seats at the parade were sandwiched between a funeral home and a doctor’s office. When the Michigan band played The Victors, we could barely see or hear seven-seconds worth.
After another bus ride and a short walk over the golf course, we thought our day was going to improve. Taking our seats, we caught our first glimpse of Traveler, the white Trojan horse, the Michigan cheerleaders and the well known Southern Cal card section.
Bo Schembechler was bringing his first Michigan team into the game with the Southern Cal Trojans.
The Wolverines earned the Rose Bowl berth by upsetting undefeated Ohio State 24-12 to conclude the 1969 season and a share of the Big Ten title.
The euphoria was carried into the stadium by 17,000 faculty, alumni and students who made the trip to California.
The invincible Wolverines were going to win that day. Never mind that the Trojans entered the game as Pac-8 champions with an overall 9-0-1 mark. They tied Notre Dame 14-14 and barely defeated cross-town rival UCLA, 14-12.
It wasn’t long before the fairy tale scene turned sour.
Michigan’s inability to move the ball in its first possession told us we’d be in for a tough day.
Moments later, a late flag drew attention to the Michigan bench where a short-haired assistant (Jim Young) was screaming at an official. Not to be seen was our beloved Bo who (very few seemed to know) was in a local hospital suffering from a heart attack.
Little did we know that Bo would become one of the great coaches in college football history even though he wouldn’t win his first Rose Bowl until 1981.
Whether his presence at the 1970 game would have prevented Michigan’s 10-3 loss really didn’t matter.
Next: 84th Rose Bowl Game