Rose Bowl Hall 2019 Has a “Fab Four”

Jaque Robinson (Washington) , left, Cornelius Green (Ohio State), Matt Leniart (USC), Harvard head football coach Tim Murphy (accepting on behalf of Eddie Casey) and Laura Farber, President and Chairman of the Tournament of Roses during the Hall of Fame Luncheon outside the Rose Bowl on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer

In an event hosted by John Anderson of ESPN just outside the Stadium, The Rose Bowl class of 2019 has players that are popular on and off the football field. Their participation in the game has helped give them a stature only few can claim.

They are truly a “Fab Four” of College Football. Eddie Casey (Harvard), Cornelius Greene (Ohio State), Jacque Robinson (Washington), and Matt Leinart (USC) all were enshrined and all gave something special.

Casey was an athletic halfback and defensive back. The 155 pounder left school after his freshman year to join the Navy. He returned for the 1919 campaign and the team finished the season with a 9-0-1 record.  He and his teammates traveled six days on the train from Boston to Pasadena. They defeated Oregon 7-6 in the 1920 Rose Bowl and Casey had more than half of the 205 yards that included 40 rushing and 59 receiving. He was named game MVP and The Tournament of Roses was introduced to New England. It was the only postseason game the Crimson football played in.

“That had a lot of meaning to the school and people around Harvard,” said Harvard Head Football coach Tim Murphy. “Most of todays recruits are surprised that Harvard won the Rose Bowl. There’s a little bit of shock that Harvard played in those types of games. “

Quarterback Cornelius Greene was one of the best athletes to ever play at Ohio State. He is one of the few to play in four Rose Bowls (1973-74-75-76). “In order to go to the Rose Bowl you had to beat Michigan,” said Greene.  “That means we beat Bo Schembechler each year I played for the Buckeyes.

As a sophomore in the 1973 game the shifty running Greene threw for 125 yards and ran for 45 as the Buckeyes defeated USC 42-21. He was named game MVP. At the time many college coaches were afraid to start or even play blacks at quarterback. He was the first to start at Ohio State. Greene stated: “I give the glory to Woody Hayes to have the guts to play me.”

There were several friends former teammates of Greene on hand to see him receive this award. Cullen Bennett who now lives in Los Angeles was one. “He (Greene) was like a mentor to me,” said Bennett. “When I came in as a freshman he taught me a lot not just about football but about school and others things in life.”

As an Alumni Bennett claims, “I only watch Ohio State football games only, that’s the only college football I watch.”

In the 1975 and 76 games Greene had 454 yards of total offense and scored 2 touchdowns. In 1975 he was the Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award winner as the best player in the Big Ten. He was 31-3-1 as a starter and was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.

Greene is now part of a complete Buckeye backfield in the Rose Bowl HOF that includes Pete Johnson (2007),  Archie Griffin (1990), and Coach Hayes who was inducted in 1989.

Jacque Robinson was a big talent at the University of Washington.

The Huskies defeated Texas Tech and USC on the way to the Rose Bowl.

In the 1982 game the San Jose native rushed for 142 yards on 20 carries while scoring two TDs in a 28-0 win over Iowa. He became the first freshman to be named Rose Bowl MVP.

It had been rumored before the game Robinson said he was going to win the MVP. “That actually was my roommate,” said Robinson. ”He did a lot of talking and someone thought it came from me”

Later as a senior he became Orange Bowl MVP after the Huskies defeated Oklahoma 28-17. He was the first to be named MVP of the Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl.  He entered the Washington Hall of Fame in 2016. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1985. His is also the father of Former NBA player and Slam Dunk Champion Nate Robinson.

Matt Leinart was one of the most popular players ever to put on the uniform at USC. During his freshman year he had to wait behind Heisman winner Carson Palmer before he got his shot to play.

He made the best of his chance by playing in two Rose Bowls. In 2004 he lead the Trojans to a 28-14 win over Michigan. He threw for 3 touchdowns and caught another from wide receiver Mike Williams.

When he appeared in his second he had won the Heisman Trophy and was named Walter Camp All-American and Player of the Year. He completed 73 percent of his passes for 3,300 yards and 34 touchdowns.

The Trojans lost to Texas 41-38 in the BCs National Title game. “It’s been called the “Greatest College Game ever” said Leinart. “I wish the outcome was different but it was great to be part of. “

Leinart finished his career with a 37-2 record as a starter and a 39 game win streak overall. “It was Pete Carroll who did a lot of it,”

said Leinart. “He really made us work hard and we were confident.”

He entered the College Hall of Fame last year and the Rose Bowl Hall this year and he and his wife are expecting a child “Any day now, put it all together it was a pretty cool thing.”