Game HistoryOn Friday, April 29, 1977 the University of California Athletic Department announced the creation of an annual football game to honor Joe. The University established the Joe Roth Memorial Game and designated each year's home game against its Southern California rival (either USC or UCLA) as the game to honor Joe's memory.
The selection of the Southern California schools as the opponents for the Joe Roth Memorial Games was a fitting tribute to the fallen quarterback. Joe's performance against USC in 1975 on national TV catapolted Joe into the media spotlight. Joe delivered a brilliant performance leading the Bears to a 28-14 upset of the #4 Trojans. The Bears' victory snapped USC's 18 game unbeaten streak and its string of 28 victories against Pac-8 opponents.
For the 1977 and 1978 Joe Roth Memorial Games, a $1 surcharge (50 cents for students) was added to each ticket sold to help fund a new memorial scholarship fund created to also honor Joe. Within the first year, ticket fees and private donations generated over $90,000 for the endowment fund. The Joe Roth Memorial Scholarship Fund still exists today and provides financial assistance to a deserving junior each season for their senior year.
In a brief pre-game ceremony before the first Memorial Game on October 29, 1977 against the USC Trojans, the University officially retired Joe's #12 jersey. It was the first and only time in the University of California's football history that a player's jersey had been retired. An inspired Cal football team took the field that day and upset the #10 Trojans 17-14.
Pictured below is a card stunt performed by the Cal student section during half-time of the first Joe Roth Memorial Game. The picture spells out Joe's name and retired number.
Over the years the University has introduced new ways to remember Joe during the annual Memorial Game. Joe and the Memorial Game have been recognized repeatedly on game tickets and in game program articles. Below are the ticket stub and game program from the first Joe Roth Memorial Game.
A majority of the ticket stubs and game programs from the Memorial Game can be seen in this section.
Prior to the 2003 Memorial Game against USC, the athletic department hung a large banner in front of the North Tunnel scoreboard.
The Cal student section performs a card stunt in Joe’s honor during the 2006 Memorial Game.
The University also hung a large banner above the North Tunnel entrance before the 2006 Memorial Game versus UCLA.
To honor Joe for the 2007 Memorial Game, the Golden Bears wore Joe Roth-era; mid-70s throw back jerseys. The throw back idea originated during a meeting between Nike officials, players, and the Cal equipment staff during the 2006 season. The jerseys were unveiled to a national television audience and a sold-out Memorial Stadium as the Bears took on the Trojans of USC. Following the game, the jerseys, pants, and helmets worn by the Cal players were auctioned off as a fundraiser.
Read more about the throw back jerseys.
Nike also produced replica #12 jerseys that were made available at local retail establishments. This marked the first time that a Cal fan could buy a replica Joe Roth jersey. Below is a picture of the replica jersey.