PASADENA, CA (Nittany Nation) — Sunday morning, on Rose Bowl eve a group of about 20 people were escorted through the Rose Bowl Stadium. It’s one of the most historic venues in college football and it turned 100 this year. Brian Brantley, of the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation, smiled ear-to-ear as he showed off some of the oldest parts of the historic venue.
“I have a key to the Rose Bowl? OK,” he laughed. “I would have never dreamt that as a kid.”
Brantley is a Philadelphia native, and longtime Penn State fan. He’s worked as the Director of Major Gifts for the foundation for five years, but first came to the famed stadium back in 1995 to see the Nittany Lions play Oregon.
“Penn State was loaded that year,” he recalled. “They went undefeated [with] Kerry Collins, Ki-Jana Carter, Joe Jurevicius and on the first play from scrimmage Penn State’s Ki-Jana Carter took it 80 yards to the house and I stood up and I was like, this is the greatest place I’ve ever been. And it was so true on every level. I loved being here and being a Penn State fan. It was a dream come true.”
The 1995 win is Penn State’s only in Pasadena. The Nittany Lions lost Rose Bowl matchups with USC in 2017, 2009 and 1923. That 14-3 loss in 1923 was the first Rose Bowl played at the Rose Bowl Stadium. The venue turned 100 years-old this fall and is one of four stadiums in the US with a historic landmark designation.
“It’s the Granddaddy of them all. That’s that’s what it’s about. And that’s what drew me as a six year old was just the pageantry, the colors of the crowd,” he said. “And the then when you see it, you see the San Gabriel Mountains behind you, around the stadium, and you see everything green in the neighborhood. You’re like, there’s no setting like this in the world for college football or any sporting event.”
Penn State plays Utah Monday in the 109th Rose Bowl game, kickoff is 5 p.m.