Joetta di Bella, Archivist for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, dropped yet another surprise on me. Although she is backlogged with months of research requests due to a move of the archives, Joetta took time out to find some new (to me) information about the participants in the 1916 Rose Bowl. At the bottom of this article is a page from the 2010 Historical Media Guide that brings another team into the mix.
It said that Brown was only invited after Syracuse turned down the opportunity due to “an already hectic travel schedule.” This was the first I heard that Syracuse had been considered. I knew that the Big Four seldom played away from home, except to play each other. I was aware that Cornell was strong that year, going 9-0-0 with thumpings of Harvard, Penn and Michigan to their credit. Pop Warner’s first Pitt squad was also undefeated at 8-0-0. Pitt and Cornell were each considered unofficial national champions by some of those who make such pronouncements. Perhaps neither of them wanted to make the trip. Syracuse, however, was no pushover and was much better than their 9-2-2 record would imply. Their victims that year included Brown, Michigan and Oregon State at Portland. However, their western road trip that included games in Missoula, Montana, Portland, Oregon, and Los Angeles was still in the future when an eastern invader was being selected as it was scheduled for late November and early December. It isn’t hard to see why Syracuse officials wouldn’t have been very excited about sending their football team all the way across the continent a couple of weeks after returning from California.
While Brown’s record wasn’t as impressive as those of the aforementioned teams, they had beaten Yale and their roster included arguably the most exciting running back in the east that year, Fritz Pollard.