PASADENA, CA – Outside the iconic Rose Bowl at Lot K on Tuesday, December 31st, four college football luminaries were enshrined in the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. The class of 2019 are Harvard’s Eddie Casey, Ohio State Quarterback Cornelius Greene, Washington Huskie Jacque Robinson and legendary USC Trojan Quarterback Matt Leinart.
The family friendly event was held outside the iconic venue, one day prior to “The Granddaddy of Them All”. An In-N-Out Burger truck was on site handing out their juicy, world famous burgers. This HOF bash had the vibe of an upscale tailgate party, a wonderful precursor to the 106th Rose Bowl presented by Northwestern Mutual on January 1st. When the NO. 6 Oregon Ducks battle the NO. 8 Wisconsin Badgers.
SportsCenter anchor, ESPN’s flagship sports news program John Anderson hosted the HOF ceremony. Anderson’s reverence for the history of the Rose Bowl, as well as his terrific sense of humor made him a wonderful emcee.
fi360 News caught up with Leinart as he was sipping a 7-Up prior to being inducted. Leinart fondly remembered conducting the Trojans marching band after defeating the Michigan Wolverines, 28-14.
“After the ’04 Rose Bowl I got to lead the marching band, there is a picture of me standing on a ladder with a sea of 100,000 people in the stands,” explained Leinart. The Heisman Trophy winner orchestrated one of the greatest dynasties in the history of college football, Leinart earned MVP in the Rose Bowl victory over the Wolverines.
His next Rose Bowl was the 2006 BCS National Championship against the University of Texas, considered by many to be the greatest game in the history of college football period! Although Leinart completed 73 percent of his passes, fellow Rose Bowl HOF inductee Texas QB Vince Young ripped the heart out of die hard Trojans fans running into the end zone in the final minute EN route to a 41-38 victory and the National Championship.
“The epic back and forth even though we lost, I can’t escape the game so many memories.” Leinart was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall Of Fame in 2007, as well as having his #11 Jersey retired.
Three other gridiron legends were honored. Eddie Casey was a diminutive Tailback and Defensive Back from Harvard. After nobly serving in World War I, he returned to the Crimson in 1919, leading them to a 9-0-1 record. His bursting speed combined with his agility paved the way for a 7-6 victory over the University of Oregon. His 205 all purpose yards earned him MVP honors. More importantly, the win introduced the Tournament of Roses to the New England States.
Corneilius Greene is one of the lucky few to appear in four Rose Bowls. The OSU Quarterback played from 1973-1976, receiving MVP honors for his performance in the 1974 Rose Bowl. The Buckeye QB defeated the USC Trojans, 42-21. Greene threw for 129 yards, running for 45 yards and a touchdown.
Jacque Robinson was the freshman to hoist the MVP award for his outstanding performance in the 1982 Rose Bowl. Crushing the University of Iowa 28-0 behind Robinsons 142 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. Robinson was just getting started-earning MVP honors in the 1985 Orange Bowl. Robinson became one of only four players to ever win MVP in both the Orange and Rose Bowls.
President of the Tournament of Roses Laura Farber opened up the ceremony. The Rose Bowl Hall of Fame was established in 1989 to honor individuals connected with college football’s oldest Bowl game. The Rose Bowl HOF has 133 members to date.
The honorees will receive a blazer, a permanent plaque at the Court of Championship at the Rose Bowl, appear at the Rose Parade and are recognized on the field during the Rose Bowl.