Michigan Football Preview 2013

2013 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., is played in front of one of the most spectacular backdrops in sports, with the San Gabriel Mountains looming behind the stadium. photo courtesy Pasadena Tournament of Roses Archives Rose Bowl Dreams Pasadena Holds A Special Allure For Michigan A By John Borton rroyo Seco means "dry stream" in Spanish. For countless Michigan football players and coaches down through the years, it's meant a flood of memories, dreams and desires. The 24.9-mile canyon begins near Mt. Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains. It wanders through Los Angeles, ultimately ending at a confluence with the Los Angeles River near Elysian Park, north of Dodger Stadium. Along the way, it harbors a gem. The Rose Bowl, constructed in 1921, awaits busloads of wide-eyed football players, making their way down through sycamore trees to the football palace below. Lloyd Carr knows it well. The former Michigan head coach has experienced excruciating heartbreak in that little canyon. He's also enjoyed the signature moment of his college coaching career — a Rose Bowl victory and national championship in 1997. Win or lose, he'd choose no other venue on Jan. 1. "As you drive in through the Arroyo Seco — physically, it's a beautiful place," Carr mused. "The setting, the mountains, the col- ors … I don't think I ever went in there where the weather was anything but perfect. The colors seem so vivid, because the sun is shining. "As the day wears on, and you get into the fourth quarter, you're playing under the lights, and it's dark …" Carr has always spoken of the Rose Bowl with an almost reverent tone, but he's far from alone in that respect. Literally thousands of Michigan football players down through the years have dreamed of starting their new year in Pasadena. Bo Schembechler regarded the Rose Bowl as Michigan's holy grail, despite suffering a heart attack there that kept him out of his first earned arrival in that stadium. Pasadena meant further heartache for him over the next decade, but remained the dream and the goal. Michigan players understood, absorbed and owned the passion. Doug Skene, a former All-Big Ten offensive lineman who attended an incredible four Rose Bowls in his five years at Michigan (1988-92), made it five pilgrimages to the site this spring. On a trip to California, he drove down to an empty Rose Bowl just to see it. 54  ■  The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview That's the hold it possesses. Skene, like every Wolverine, recalls his first time playing in Pasadena on New Year's Day as vividly as if it were yesterday. "It was fascinating," Skene said. "We were on the bus, and you're going through these mountains and these hills. You're wondering where the stadium is. Being from the Midwest, you're used to seeing a stadium sticking out. "Out there, the stadium is nestled down in the valley with those mountains. You come around the corner, and you can see the stadium from the bridge. You've seen it on TV as a kid, and it's really cool to see it for the first time. When you're playing in it, it's even more special. "It's a big deal — a really big deal." It's a big deal to Brady Hoke. He preaches that anything short of a Big Ten championship is failure and knows the winding bus trip down to the Rose Bowl represented success for generations of Wolverines. He was there in '97 as well. The Wolverines haven't been there since 2007, and nobody knows it better than the third-year head coach. Despite a college football world hurtling

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