Behind The Scenes

Rose Bowl homecoming, HOF induction for ESPN’s Brian Griese

Head coach Lloyd Carr (R) and quarterback Brian Griese after the Wolverines 21-16 win over Washington State in the 1998 Rose Bowl. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
Michigan QB Brian Griese celebrated with coach Lloyd Carr after the Wolverines’ 21-16 win over Washington State in the 1998 Rose Bowl. (Getty Images)

“I went there to get an education,” ESPN Radio and television analyst Brian Griese says of attending the University of Michigan. “If I was good enough to play and get a scholarship, great. If not, I knew I’d get a good education.”

Nineteen years after the lightly recruited walk-on was red-shirted as a freshman, then designated place-kick holder and pooch punter as a sophomore, he was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Sunday.

“I figured my football career came to an end as a senior, and was planning to go to George Washington University to get my Masters,” he says. “But I made the decision to come back for my fifth year and give it one more shot.”

That shot turned into an undefeated season and 1997 national championship for the Wolverines. With it came the opportunity to earn yesterday’s enshrinement at the Pasadena Convention Center with his Player-of-the-Game performance in Michigan’s 21-16 Rose Bowl victory over Washington State . Griese completed 18 of 30 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns.

The induction also earned Griese an extended stay in Southern California — he got assigned to work ESPN Radio’s broadcast of tomorrow’s Wisconsin-Stanford Rose Bowl (5 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN).

Brian Griese
Brian Griese

“It’s altogether fitting Brian will be our Rose Bowl analyst the year he’s inducted into its Hall of Fame,” says ESPN Radio Executive Producer John Martin. “That, plus the fact he was the winning quarterback in our first college football broadcast.”

Griese, after an 11-year pro career, joined ESPN in 2009, most recently working Saturday’s Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on ESPN2. He says radio is, “Absolutely different. Radio is much more descriptive — you tell what happened, whereas on TV you tell why it happened. And on radio there’s significantly less time — it’s a challenge to weave in why something happened.”

His broadcast career, induction into the Rose Bowl HOF and Super Bowl ring (with Denver’s SB XXXIII champs) are several ways Griese has emulated his father, Bob, who was at Sunday’s induction. Bob called Brian’s Rose Bowl win on ABC with Keith Jackson, a member of the Rose Bowl HOF committee.

“Keith is the person who told me I’d be in the Hall,” Brian says. “He made sure to tell me it’s about the on-field experience, but also about what you give back off the field.”

Griese does that, in large part, through Judi’s House, a children’s grief support center in Denver, Colo., named in honor of his mother Judi, who succumbed to breast cancer when he was 12.

“That’s why this means so much to me,” he says.

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