Lawry's The Prime Rib
Beef Bowl is one of the oldest traditions in college football. Photo courtesy of Lawry’s The Prime Rib

The Stanford football team is scheduled to make its third Beef Bowl appearance in four years Monday at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Beverly Hills, one day after its opponent in Friday’s 102nd Rose Bowl Game, Iowa, did the same.

When asked what advice he would give to his players who are in their first or second years in the program and have not previously participated in the Beef Bowl, Cardinal coach David Shaw responded, “The big phrase is portion control because it’s really, really good.”

Guard Joshua Garnett did not take that advice during Stanford’s 2012 Beef Bowl visit, consuming seven pieces of 24-ounce prime rib, according to information provided by the university. Garnett said he was “hurting a little bit” in practice the next day.

“I was trying to go as hard as I (could), but when you eat that much meat, as a human biology major I should have known that that wasn’t going to work out too well for me,” said Garnett, this season’s winner of the Outland Trophy, which honors college football’s most outstanding interior lineman.

Before Stanford’s 2013 Beef Bowl visit, Garnett, who is 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 321 pounds, said Shaw told him, “Josh, you’ve got to play a little more this Rose Bowl, so you got to take it easy, don’t do too much.”

Garnett told City News Service he has set for himself “a limit of one” piece tonight of what he called “the best cut” of prime rib “I’ve ever had.”

Shaw said his top memories from the previous visits came from the restaurant’s staff, who he described as “so accommodating” and “so nice.” He called the prime rib “so tender.”

“It feels like it melts in your mouth,” Shaw said.

Iowa participated in its portion of 60th Beef Bowl Sunday.

Linebacker Travis Perry made the ceremonial “first cut” of beef before the Hawkeyes dined on the traditional menu of roasted prime ribs of beef, mashed potatoes and creamed corn, preceded by a salad in their first Beef Bowl appearance since 1990. The desert was apple pie a la mode.

The Iowa players, dressed in their black sweat suits, walked on a red carpet as they entered the restaurant as the Temple City High School band played the school’s fight song.

Before Sunday, approximately 21,100 players and coaches dined at the Beef Bowl, with 82,100 pounds of beef having been consumed at the event, according to Todd Erickson, the event’s publicist and author of the 2005 book, “Road to the Rose Bowl,” which explores the Rose Bowl Game and the tradition of Lawry’s Beef Bowl through players’ and coaches’ recollections.

Lawry’s Beef Bowl “is not about what team eats the most,” said Richard R. Frank, president and chief executive officer of Lawry’s Restaurants Inc.

“The purpose of the event is to honor champion student-athletes for their achievement as a team of making it to the Rose Bowl Game,” said Frank, whose late father, Richard N. Frank, conceived the Beef Bowl in 1956, shortly after becoming Lawry’s president.

“The meal is a large part of the celebration because these are young men with enormous appetites, but it’s more about celebrating together away from the practice field in a legendary setting.”

In the Beef Bowl’s early years, a prime rib eating competition was encouraged and it became extremely popular among the teams and news media covering it.

Its popularity was bolstered between the high correlation of winning the Beef Bowl and winning Rose Bowl Game. A Scorecard entry in the Jan. 11, 1965, edition of Sports Illustrated noted that each of the first nine Beef Bowl winners went on to win the Rose Bowl Game.

By 1969, the elder Frank felt the competition was not appropriate and there was too much emphasis on consumption and not the sheer enjoyment of a good meal and the celebratory nature of the event for each team.

The elder Frank renamed the event as the “Beef Scrimmage” to help the players and media understand it wasn’t a competition, but the name was changed back to the Beef Bowl a few years later.

Beef Bowl attendees are allowed seconds “and that’s where we try to draw the line, though from time to time there are players who try to get around that rule,” the younger Frank said.

The amount of beef consumed by each team is determined by multiplying the number of prime rib roasts consumed by the average weight of a roast, Erickson told City News Service.

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