May 18, 2006
On Saturday, June 3, more than 100 members of the 1976 UCLA Rose Bowl Championship team - including coaches, players, cheerleaders and essential staff - are gathering on the Westwood campus for a 30-year reunion. This is the team that beat then No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Ohio State on January 1, 1976 by a convincing score of 23-10 after losing to Woody Hayes' Buckeyes and two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin earlier in the season.
The outcome of that Rose Bowl contest is less of a surprise today, when you consider that head coach Dick Vermeil went on to coach 15 years in the National Football League, leading the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl in 1981, winning a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams in 2000, and coaching the past five years with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Vermeil will be joined by his formidable 1975 season coaching staff, which included Kansas City Chief President and General Manager Carl Peterson; Kansas City Chief Vice President of Operations Lynn Stiles; former San Francisco 49ers General Manager Terry Donahue, who replaced Vermeil and served as the Bruin head coach for 20 years; and current San Jose State Coach Dick Tomey. Pepper Rodgers, who coached at UCLA prior to Vermeil, will also attend.
Notable players on the 1976 Rose Bowl-winning team who enjoyed successful careers in the NFL include Brent Boyd, Theotis Brown, Randy Cross, Bruce Davis, Oscar Edwards, Cliff Frazier, Wally Henry, John Lynn, James Owens, Jerry Robinson, John Sciarra Sr., Terry Tautolo, Manu Tuiasasopo, Wendell Tyler and Rick Walker.
Coach Vermeil announced his third retirement from the NFL on January 1, 2006. Thirty years earlier, he accepted the head coaching job with the Eagles within days of UCLA's upset of Ohio State and the team never really got a chance to celebrate together.
So linebackers Raymond Bell and Frank Stephens had an idea. They made a few phone calls and formed a planning committee, including quarterback Sciarra, punter John Sullivan, offensive tackle Bobby Reyes and safety Edwards.
Members of the team will gather on Saturday morning, June 3 at the J.D. Morgan Hall of Fame - appropriate because Morgan was the athletic director for the 1976 Rose Bowl. They will hear from current head coach Karl Dorrell and take a tour of the campus and new athletic facilities before hopping on a bus for a "pre-game" meal at Lawry's Prime Rib Restaurant, reminiscent of the 1975 Beef Bowl.
Bell, now a sports producer at Fox 11 in Los Angeles, has compiled video footage of memories plus the entire 1976 Rose Bowl game, one of many keepsake souvenirs. Vermeil and his coaching staff, along with captains John Sciarra, Cliff Frazier and Jeff Smith, will address the team. The team will gather at the Westwood Hotel on Wilshire Blvd. before and after the reunion event.
The 1976 Rose Bowl Reunion Committee's goal is 100 percent team participation, and it needs your help in getting the word out to team members who are missing in action. Former players should contact Frank Stephens, UCLA Director of Athletic Student Services, at (310) 206-6668 for more information. Coach Vermeil, his coaching staff and players are available for interviews prior to the event. Media should contact Marc Dellins, UCLA Sports Information Director.