Cal faces Texas 7 years after Rose Bowl snub

Even though he’s won a Super Bowl, it still irks Aaron Rodgers

that he and the California Golden Bears were bumped from the Rose

Bowl seven years ago by Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns.

The Longhorns went on to beat Michigan in Pasadena. Relegated to

the Holiday Bowl, Cal played like a jilted team and was overrun by

Texas Tech in Rodgers’ final game.

The Golden Bears can get a measure of revenge when they play the

Longhorns in a matchup of 7-5 teams in the Holiday Bowl on

Wednesday night.

Rodgers, who led the Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl win last

year as the NFC’s No. 6 seed, let out a deep sigh when asked

earlier this month if he’s still upset about what happened seven

years ago.

”Yes. Well, we got them now in the Holiday Bowl, so, seven

years later, yes, I’m still upset about it,” he told San Francisco

Bay Area reporters in a conference call before the Packers played

host to the Oakland Raiders. ”That was something that I would’ve

really loved to have been a part of. The last Rose Bowl for Cal, I

want to say, was in the 50s. Got to get back there soon.”

Cal hasn’t been to the Rose Bowl since Jan. 1, 1959.

In 2004, Texas overhauled Cal in the final BCS standings and

went to the Rose Bowl. Rodgers said then that Brown ”was a little

classless” in begging for poll votes that would help the

Longhorns.

”There’s a lot better way to do it, and it’s called a playoff

system,” Rodgers said this year. ”It’s ridiculous. I don’t know

what they’re calling Division II and III anymore, but they all play

a playoff system to get a definite winner. There’s no reason that

the FBS or FCS, or whatever it’s called now, there’s no reason that

they shouldn’t have at least a four-team, eight-team, 16-team,

32-team playoffs. … You got plenty of time. Wipe out the

conference championship games and get a playoff system where

there’s a definite winner.”

Cal coach Jeff Tedford said most people have let `04 go, but

understands how Rodgers feels.

”I think it was hard for that team, for that group of guys who

had earned the right to, what we felt was to be in the Rose Bowl,”

Tedford said Tuesday. ”They played very, very well. For things

that were unexplained to take it over, I think, really left a bad

taste in a lot of people’s mouth, especially the players who earned

it. While the fans probably still have some bitterness about it

now, the guys on our team right now, they were 10 years old when

that happened.”

Tedford was asked if fans might be a little more intense when

the Golden Bears get their first shot at the Longhorns since

1970.

”I’m hoping they’re intense about the game, you know, not

sitting there in their seats, saying, `You know, back in 2004 – I’m

going to yell louder right now.’ I just don’t’ know that that’s the

case. I think we’re trying to make something of that a little bit

more than really what it is. That happened a long time ago. It was

unfortunate at the time, but we’re in a whole new day, a whole new

game, different people and things like that. I think some of the

fans are still a little bit bitter about that, still remember that.

The Rose Bowl is something that when you’re that close and you

don’t go, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth for a lot of the

fans.”

Tedford and Brown have become friends, so there’s no animosity

between the coaches.

Brown isn’t apologizing for what he did in ’04. He said there’s

always a debate about whether a coach should stand up for his team

or keep his mouth shut, or if a coach should vote for his team.

”What I thought when I did it – and I did it in ’08 and it

didn’t work for us – I thought I was standing up for what I

believed was true, that we had a good team,” Brown said. ”In ’04,

what I thought came to be true because we beat a really good

Michigan team in the Rose Bowl and it was a great football game.

What I thought in ’08 could have been true because we beat a really

good Ohio State team in the BCS. I do think I’ve tried to be fair

and honest.

”With Cal being disappointed not getting in, we were just as

disappointed in ’08 when we went to the Fiesta Bowl instead of

playing in the conference championship game. It probably cost Colt

McCoy a Heisman Trophy because Sam Bradford won it against Missouri

in the conference championship game. It definitely cost us a

conference championship because we’d already beaten Missouri badly

and we were the better of the two teams at that time and cost us a

chance to win a national championship. That could be very

devastating, too, and we don’t sit about it and talk about it all

the time.”

While Cal won three of its final four games, the Longhorns have

lost three of four coming in.

The Longhorns have had shaky quarterback play all season. Brown

said he hasn’t decided whether Case McCoy or David Ash will start,

but said both will probably play.

”Both of these teams have had good seasons, but neither one is

at the standard that we’re used to and the standard that both teams

have set, so I think you’ll see both teams excited about tomorrow

night,” Brown said.