Why Rose Bowl means more to Tommy Rees, the Alabama football offensive coordinator

PASADENA, California — The morning of Danny Rees' wedding, he dreamed of this moment for his younger brother, Tommy Rees.

The two had gone on a pre-wedding jog. Getting married in Pasadena, Danny wanted to run around the Rose Bowl stadium.

"It's a really good run that people do here," Danny said. "You just go down and jog around the Rose Bowl."

It was during that 2020 jog that Danny made a prediction; He told his brother he would be back there soon.

They talked about how cool it would be to get back to Pasadena and be in the Rose Bowl game. "Little did we know it would be at Alabama," Danny said.

At the time, Tommy coordinated Notre Dame's offense. In the 2020 season, he actually coached against Alabama in the Rose Bowl, but it was held in Dallas because of COVID-19. So it was only the Rose Bowl by name, not by experience.

Now, with No. 4 Alabama set to face No. 1 Michigan in the College Football Playoff semifinals Monday (4 p.m. CT, ESPN), Rees will finally have his chance to coach in the Rose Bowl as Alabama's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

“It takes a lot of work to get to this game," Tommy told The Tuscaloosa News. "It takes a lot of circumstances to get to this game, so it’s always a thought that’s in the back of your mind. To actually be here and have the experience is pretty cool."

It's been a long-time in the making. Frankly, since Tommy was born. The Alabama offensive coordinator was born in Los Angeles. And his Southern California connections run deep.

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Tommy's dad, Bill Rees, served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for UCLA from 1979-1994. Tommy's mom, Susan Rees, also went to UCLA. Then, Danny went on to play football for UCLA. Susan's family is all from Southern California, too.

Tommy moved from Southern California when he was fairly young, about 5 or 6 he recalled. But the Rose Bowl remained part of his life.

"The Rose Bowl has always kind of meant a lot to the family," Tommy said. "Even the day of the Rose Bowl game, it was always people coming over, kind of a celebrational day for our family."

The Rees' still have family on their mom's side in Southern California. Danny is also still out there. He had a daughter born recently. His sister, Meghan Ganzer, was planning to fly out this month to meet the baby, but she waited until the Rose Bowl trip, which worked out perfectly.

Ganzer estimated there will be about 20 family and friends at the game supporting Tommy and Alabama.

"It’s been something that has been near and dear to our family and we have some memories growing up going to the Rose Bowl for different games over the years," Ganzer said. "It kind of feels like home a bit. We’ve always talked about how cool it would be to go back to the Rose Bowl if Tommy were coaching. It’s a great opportunity that’s finally coming full circle."

Nick Kelly is the Alabama beat writer for The Tuscaloosa News, part of the USA TODAY Network, and he covers Alabama football and men's basketball. Reach him at or follow him @_NickKelly on X, the social media app formerly known as Twitter.

This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Why Rose Bowl means more to Alabama football OC Tommy Rees