- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Even when the Big Ten reads the tea leaves and sees a college football playoff is inevitable, the league, along with its partner, the Pac-12, still finds a way to tick off most of the country.
Not surprisingly, the most-discussed element of the BCS postseason options proposal obtained by USA Today is the option to expand the national semifinals to accommodate the traditional Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup in the Rose Bowl. In case you missed it, here's how the plan would work:
In the latter plan, the four highest-ranked teams at the end of the regular season would meet in semifinals unless the Big Ten or Pac-12 champion, or both, were among the top four. Those leagues' teams still would meet in the Rose, and the next highest-ranked team or teams would slide into the semis. The national championship finalists would be selected after those three games.
Ugh. So you'd have six teams vying for two spots. And some kind of selection committee would determine which of the winners of the "semifinal" wouldn't make the national championship game.
The Rose Bowl is my favorite event on the college football calendar. I've only covered two of them, but if you put me in Pasadena every Jan. 1 for the next 30 years, you'd hear no complaints. Still, this plan seems borderline ridiculous.
And it has Jim Delany's fingerprints all over it. Delany and his Pac-12 counterpart, Larry Scott, don't want to see the Rose Bowl diminished in any way. But as Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne told me and others have stated, any playoff system will hurt the bowls, including the Rose. Still, fans want a playoff.
The Rose Bowl thing brings up an interesting debate, one I discussed Wednesday during a radio interview in Omaha. One of the hosts, Dirk Chatelain (he of Omaha World-Herald fame), asked whether the Big Ten's Rose Bowl love has gone too far and whether there's a disconnect between the traditionalists who run the league and the fans. Chatelain mentioned that a new generation of Big Ten fans, who grew up during the BCS era and the playoff push, might be less tied to the Rose Bowl.
Take Ohio State fans, for example. They've watched their Buckeyes dominate the Big Ten during the BCS era but have seen them only in one Rose Bowl since the span (2010 Rose Bowl). Meanwhile, the Buckeyes have played in three national title games.
Do Big Ten fans value the Rose Bowl enough to make it an integral component of the national playoff plan? Would the potential devaluing of the Rose Bowl with an alternate and, most likely, more sensible playoff plan be too much to give up?
Here's your chance to weigh in. You can also send me your views here (please include which Big Ten teams you root for).
1mSam Khan Jr.