Few of today’s Dawgs fans were alive the day Georgia beat UCLA in 1943 to cap off a 10-1 season. That’s the last time UGA played in The Grandaddy Of Them All before the 2017 season’s Playoff semifinal against Oklahoma.
That 1943 game was tough to get to for Georgia fans and players.
There was a skirmish called World War II that made things a little interesting on the West Coast.
The Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day 1942 was moved to the East Coast and played on Duke’s campus because Pearl Harbor had been bombed on Dec. 7, 1941. President Franklin Roosevelt warned the public of the danger of further Japanese attacks, and the governor of California ordered the parade and the game called off. Duke coach Wallace Wade lobbied enough parties (including his own team) to have the game played in Durham. It’s still the only Rose Bowl played outside of Pasadena.
Thanks to the Battle Of Midway in the Pacific Ocean in 1942, the West Coast was deemed safe to host the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day 1943, although the parade was again cancelled. Final approval for the game wasn’t given until mid-November.
Georgia received its bid shortly after smashing No. 2 Georgia Tech, but did have to wait a few weeks to find out who it would meet. But it was hard enough for Georgia’s team to get out there, per Leo Costa, the kicker on that Dawgs team.
[w]e got to the train station and no showers for four days, two meals a day because they didn’t want us to get fat. (Laughter) We get to the hotel, the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, and everybody gets a key and starts heading for the room and before we could even get there, they round us up and have a meeting. We were told we were there to win a ball game, and if you think you’re here for anything else, come see me when this meeting’s over and I’ll give you your fare back to Georgia. (Laughter)
Basically all commercial air travel was stopped inside the United States during the war. There were also some restrictions on civilian train travel as well. The trains civilians did travel on were often crowded, and the Georgia players had cramped quarters for the four-day journey.
Heading into the game, a sellout was expected, but travel restrictions affected other postseason games in 1942, according to an Associated Press story. As for the nature of the sellout crowd in Pasadena, Costa said that “we didn’t have too many fans out there,” and those that were cheering for the Dawgs were in the military stationed nearby. A Los Angeles Times story from the day after the game estimates that a third of the fans in attendance were servicemen.
There’ll be plenty of Georgia fans in attendance in UGA’s second Rose Bowl, but it’s still cost-prohibitive for fans to see one of the biggest games in school history.
The world has changed quite a bit since 1943. Back then, you could buy a student ticket for $1.90, or a seat in row 27 for $4.40. Today, tickets start on StubHub at around $200. But travel was still pretty expensive. A coast-to-coast train ticket in 1940 could run you about $70 in that days’ currency (nearly $1,000 in today’s money).
A few days before Christmas 2017, the cheapest round-trip flight that could be found from Atlanta to Los Angeles was $933 on Orbitz.com. Even a Motel 6 near Pasadena on game weekend will cost you $178 a night.
A flight to Phoenix is about $400 cheaper, but you’ll have to drive the remaining six hours. I have a few Georgia friends who are making the journey, and two of them are going that route. One has a flight voucher, so they lucked out. The other estimates their trip will run about $650 when all is said and done.
But if you’ve got the funds, you could go all out for what’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“The travel package we bought was $5,600 total for the two of us,” a third friend said. “Which includes two seats on one of the alumni charter planes there and back, one hotel room in downtown LA, transportation to and from the game from the hotel, entrance to the alumni tailgate and grandstand tickets to the parade. There are also some other incidentals, like they take us to the hotel from the airport and then back at the end, and I think one other party?”
The fans who made the journey back in 1943 got to see a thorough beatdown.
Because the Western Conference (the Big Ten’s predecessor) and the Tournament of Roses Association were in the midst of the eight-year contract negotiation that would produce the Big Ten-Pac-12 traditional matchup, regular season No. 1 Ohio State sat at home during the postseason (there were only five bowl games at the time), and No. 2 Georgia was selected.
Because this is the Rose Bowl, everything linked to it should always be voiced by Keith Jackson:
Some stunning color footage of UGA’s 1943 Rose Bowl recently put on YouTube shows that while there may not have been many fans there, the crowd still pulled off a UGA card stunt.
The score might have been only 9-0 in favor of the Dawgs, but the box score found in the Los Angeles Times the next day shows a comprehensive UGA beatdown.
The Dawgs did all that with Heisman winner Frank Sinkwich battling an ankle injury during the game.
He did score the game’s only touchdown, which showed up in the paper’s highlights page.
By the end, it was truly a game those who played in it would never forget.
As the seconds ticked away on the clock, [coach Wally] Butts cleared his bench to allow reserves a chance to play in the Rose Bowl. When 18-year-old guard Robert Poss reached the field, the referee reached into his pocket for a pistol to fire to signal the end of the game.
"The ref was fixin' to shoot that pistol," said Poss' son, Bobby, who played football at Georgia from 1969-71. "But my daddy said, 'Hold on, sir, I'm fixin' to run this play so I can tell my grandchildren I played in the Rose Bowl.'"
The referee waited one more play to fire his pistol. Bobby Poss said his dad talked about his one play in the Rose Bowl so much that his friends called him "Rosie" until his death in 1996.
UGA only claims two national titles. One was in 1980 with Herschel Walker, but the other one came in 1942 after they beat UCLA.
The Buckeyes may have been crowned AP national champs that year, but the final AP Poll in that day came out before the scant bowl slate. Georgia was still given the title by eight different ratings and rankings systems, however, after the win.
So yeah, it’s costly to get to the game this year, but at least there’s not a worldwide conflict snaring travel.
And the trip to Pasadena’ll be one to remember for the lucky fans that can make it, but watching it on TV in HD beats looking at grainy pictures in the newspaper the next day.