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Golden Nuggets: A look at the Cal-Northwestern Rose Bowl of 1949

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The first, last, and only time Cal played (these) Wildcats, the game was mired in controversy, drugs, and sex. (Okay, maybe only one of those things. Or two.)

Let's take a little history lesson and take a look at the 1949 Rose Bowl, which may bring up some bad memories for Cal fans.

It has been nearly 65 years since their only other meeting, Northwestern's 20-14 victory in the 35th Rose Bowl, New Year's Day 1949. That game had it all: star power, spectacular plays, dramatic subplots and three hotly disputed calls by the officials that make it probably the most controversial in the history of the Pasadena classic.

In the intervening decades, Cal players and followers have insisted victory that day should have been theirs and that the Bears were the victims of terrible injustice. Time has diminished their numbers and ardor, but still not much prodding is needed to get them started.

"I don't remember a lot, but I remember we got screwed," said Dick Erickson, the starting quarterback for the Bears that day, now long retired in the East Bay.

The game was supposed to punctuate the return of Cal to national football prominence. After three head coaches in three years had produced a cumulative record of 9-18-2, Cal hired Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf in 1947 to resurrect the football fortunes. Waldorf came from Northwestern, where he left behind several productive players who would cause him trouble down the road.

It would be nice if the article provided those allegedly definitive pictures. Regardless, maybe this makes me a bad Cal fan, but I wouldn't want to bellyache too much about controversial officiating in the past. Let's leave that to Stanfurd and 1982.

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