My Memories of the 87th Rose Bowl

The College Bowl game that sticks out in my mind is the 2001 Rose Bowl. This was the first and remains the only College Bowl game I’ve seen in person. It is also the only Rose Bowl appearance for the Purdue Boilermakers in my life time.

I had long been a Boiler football fan since the days of coaches like Fred Akers and Jim Colletto and players like Shawn McCarthy and Mike Alstott. The chance to see coach Joe Tiller and our star quarterback Drew Brees in the 87th Rose Bowl was a definite bucket list item for me. I even flew with the alumni group out of the West Lafayette, Indiana airport at Purdue.

Purdue was coming off a great season with an 8-3 record ranked in the top 20 of all major polls. They were about to meet a major force in the Pac-10 champion Washington Huskies. Coached by Rick Neuheisel, they had a record of 10-1 and were ranked in the top 5.

All of the Purdue faithful were ready for the challenge and excited for the chance at our first Rose Bowl trophy since the 1960’s.

After attending the Parade of Roses, we made our way to the stadium. This place was a mad house of people on a warm and sunny day in Pasadena. The crowd was so large, I couldn’t get to my seat until well after the coin toss.

I was just one of the over 90,000 people who watched a great Purdue team crumble under the might of Washington. During the first quarter, the Huskies completely dominated both sides of the football. Even though the Boilers put up a fight, I can’t remember a single time feeling like we were going to win after Washington’s opening drive.

I remember feeling like I was a part of history being at that game. What I really remember, is how let down I was. Not by my football team, but by how much of a dump the Rose Bowl actually is. Just like a lot of things, it is so much better on television. The bathrooms were gross. The entrances were very small and the crowds took forever to move. Plus, we lost.

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