Three finalists for the Rose Bowl Game All-Century Class of the1960s were named in an emailed press release on Sunday, Oct. 27. They are John McKay and O.J. Simpson (USC) and Ron Vander Kelen (Wisconsin). The remaining nominees, chosen by the Football Writers Association of America for the 100th playing of the Granddaddy of Them All, will be announced each week by decade; the details of the selection and schedule have been posted in this column.
In what is certain to be a controversial choice, O.J. Simpson has been named as a nominee for the All-Century Rose Bowl Game Hall of Fame, representing the USC Trojans. Running back Simpson led the Trojans to a 19-2-1 record during his two-year college career and played in the 1968 and 1969 Rose Bowl Games. USC defeated the Indiana Hoosiers 14-3 in 1968, with Simpson rushing for 128 yards on 25 carries and scoring the game’s only two touchdowns. For his performance, Simpson won Player of the Game. In 1969, he won the Heisman Trophy, which he sold in 1999 for $230,000 as part of a settlement in the murder of Ronald Goldman. He rushed for 171 yards and a touchdown, with eight receptions for 85 yards. Still, USC lost to Ohio State, 27-16. Simpson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985, the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1993 inductee.
On the other hand, coach John McKay is a favorite of USC fans. His teams won nine Pac-8 Conference titles in his 16 years of coaching the Trojans and appeared in the Rose Bowl Game eight times. In five of these, the Trojans were victorious and captured four national titles. McKay was the first coach to take four consecutive teams to Pasadena. He is tied for the most wins in Rose Bowl Game history and tied for second in all-time Rose Bowl Game appearances. He coached two Heisman Trophy winners and was a 1991 Rose Bowl Hall of Fame inductee.
Quarterback Ron Vander Kelen played with the University of Wisconsin in the 1963 game against USC in what was the first No. 1 (USC) versus No. 2 (Wisconsin) bowl game in college football history. What looked to be a 42-14 rout in the fourth quarter was turned around when Vander Kelen racked up 23 points for the Badgers in the remaining 14 minutes of the game. USC won, 42-37, but Vander Kelen’s courageous efforts set three Rose Bowl single-game records: pass attempts (48), pass completions (33) and yards passing (401). He was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1991.
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