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Controversial College Football Team Preps for the Rose Bowl at Disney

nick saban rose bowl disneyland
Credit: Scott Gustin on X

The Rose Bowl is set for this year’s college football playoff showdown between the University of Michigan Wolverines and the Alabama Crimson Tide. As both teams prepare for a chance to play for a National Championship, their road to glory hasn’t come without a little bit of magic and controversy.

Rose Bowl Game

Credit: ESPN

The Rose Bowl

The Rose Bowl is an iconic stadium located in Southern California, specifically in Pasadena. It is best known as the home of the annual Rose Bowl Game, which is one of the most prestigious college football bowl games in the United States.

The stadium has a rich history and a strong legacy. It has been hosting the Rose Bowl Game since 1923 and has become synonymous with the event. In addition to college football, the Rose Bowl has also played host to other major sporting events, including NFL Super Bowls and World Cup matches.

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The Rose Bowl stadium is operated by the Rose Bowl Operating Company and is a popular destination for football fans and tourists alike. Its seating capacity can accommodate over 90,000 spectators, providing an electrifying atmosphere during games and events.

Apart from football, the Rose Bowl has also become famous for hosting the annual Rose Parade, dubbed the Tournament of Roses. This colorful and vibrant event takes place on New Year’s Day and features elaborate floats, marching bands, and various performers. The parade routes through the streets of Pasadena and culminates at the entrance of the Rose Bowl stadium.

ESPN college gameday

Credit: ESPN

The Rose Bowl legacy extends beyond sports and entertainment. The Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the Rose Bowl stadium for future generations. Through fundraising efforts and community engagement, the foundation aims to maintain the stadium’s historical significance and improve its facilities.

The Rose Bowl is not just a stadium; it is a symbol of tradition, excellence, and community. Its long-standing history, world-class events, and passionate fans make it an iconic venue in the world of sports. Whether you’re a football enthusiast or simply appreciate the grandeur of this historic stadium, the Rose Bowl is a must-visit destination.

The College Football Playoff

Leaving the BCS system behind a decade ago, college football adapted its FBS playoff model in 2014. Leading up to college football’s equivalent of the Super Bowl, the College Football Playoff, or CFP, pits the top four teams in the country against each other in two semi-final games and a National Championship.

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Typically, teams play their way into the CFP by defeating regular season opponents and potentially winning their conference championships, although this isn’t a requirement for selection to the playoff. 

This year’s four-team playoff consists of the University of Michigan, the University of Washington, the University of Texas, and the University of Alabama. Although Texas is the only team in this year’s pool of contestants that has never made the playoffs, they aren’t the highlight of controversy surrounding recent selections.

Controversy in the Rose Bowl

As mentioned, the Rose Bowl game will feature Michigan versus Alabama. Both of these teams are considered blue-blood college football programs, with storied histories that include Michigan as the winningest program of all time and Alabama having the most National Championships.

Michigan Football Rose Bowl Game

Credit: ESPN

However, despite their recent reign of dominance over the last two decades, the Crimson Tide from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, has faced a large outcry for their inclusion into the four-team playoff this year. Although Alabama, who has progressed as a team throughout the season, is clearly one of the top teams in the country, knocking off the back-to-back champion Georgia Bulldogs, their inclusion into the field of teams ensured that one undefeated conference champion was left out.

Florida State University had an amazing season in 2023. The team powered through their conferred schedule in the ACC with relative ease, only struggling against some inferior opponents like Louisville and North Alabama. Sadly, it was during one of those games that the team lost their all-star quarterback, Jordan Travis, to a devastating and season-ending leg injury that changed the trajectory of the team.

alabama national championship

Credit: ESPN

Florida State would see the injury impact the playoff committee’s decision to include them over Alabama, whose only blemish was a week two loss to playoff team Texas. Although FSU would win out after the loss of their quarterback, their offensive performance was questionable, leading many to believe that allowing them into the playoff would ensure an easy victory for top-ranked Michigan (who earned their way after beating Ohio State).

No One Wants a Blow Out

As teams like Alabama and Georiga have been very dominant in the sport of late, there have been instances of non-competitive National Championships and playoff games. Alabama’s 2020 win over Ohio State in the National Championship was lopsided, as was their 2012 victory over Notre Dame. However, last year’s exclusion of a two-loss Alabama for TCU proved to be a mistake as Georiga thrashed the Hornfrogs in the National Championship game 65-7, leaving many bored with the “biggest game of the year.”

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Perhaps in an effort to avoid a similar situation, the committee responsible for selecting the teams that will compete for the National title chose Nick Saban and Alabama over FSU and a one-loss Ohio State, leading many to protest, including Florida officials who have vowed to open investigations into the committee. Governor Ron DeSantis even set aside $1 million of his budget for legal expenses after the decision to leave FSU out was made public.

However, the by-laws, which the ACC and FSU agreed to, note that the committee can leave a team out of the playoff if injury impacts the overall talent level of the team. Sadly, the gruesome injury to Jordan Travis did just that for FSU, potentially making them non-competitive in the playoff field, which likely could have led to another farce game in the first round. Instead, FSU will get a chance to prove they belong when they face off against former National Champion Georiga in the Orange Bowl, although rumors of protest and refusal to play have surrounded the program and head coach Mike Norvell.

Rose Bowl Teams Visit Disneyland

Despite the uproar from both sides regarding the inclusion of Nick Saban and the Jalen Milroe-led Crimson Tide, Alabama is officially part of this year’s playoff field. They will face off with Michigan on New Year’s Day for a right to play the winner of Washington/Texas for a National Championship. However, as with most bowl trips, a little fun was in store for the team prior to the Big 10/ SEC clash.

Just after Christmas, Alabama, Nick Sabana, Michigan, and head coach Jim Harbaugh all got a chance to visit Disneyland in Anaheim. Both teams enjoyed photo-ops with the big cheese himself, Mickey Mouse while participating in parades and having magical fun.

Photos featuring highly touted players from both teams, like Jalen Milroe, Dallas Turner, J. J. McCarthy, and Jake Corum, have been posted all over X, formerly Twitter, showing a soft, fun-loving side to the finely tuned athletes.

Even 7-time National Championship coach Nick Saban cracked a smile or two at the sight of Mickey Mouse and Sleepy Beauty Castle. His wife, Terry Saban, affectionately dubbed the “first lady of Alabama football,” was seen waving to guests during parades down Main Street USA, where many fans who’ve made the trip to California cheered on their favorite team.

The 109th Rose Bowl game will kick off on ESPN at 5 pm Eastern time on New Year’s Day. Michigan will make its 21st appearance in the “granddaddy of them all,” while Alabama will look to extend its Rose Bowl win streak, the last of which happened against Texas after the 2009 season.

About Michael Arnold

Michael is a father, husband, and an Army Veteran. Michael spends his weekends at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando checking out new merchandise and food. Michael is a graduate of the University of Alabama and has an education background in Public Health. You can find Michael riding Pirates of the Caribbean over and over again or binge watching new Marvel and Star Wars content. Han shot first. Thor is the strongest Avenger. Roll Tide and Wash Your Hands!

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