- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Rose Bowl didn't want to be excluded from college football's future playoff, and it had commissioners Jim Delany (Big Ten) and Larry Scott (Pac-12) ensure it wasn't left out.
As I reported earlier this week, three leagues -- the SEC, Big 12 and Conference USA -- wanted the national semifinals to take place outside the bowls. Delany and Scott wouldn't go for that, and they got their way in the end.
"We're excited," Rose Bowl chief administrative officer Kevin Ash told ESPN.com. "We've got people out there protecting us. They found a great balance of protecting the bowl system and yet giving the fans a four-team semifinal playoff. We’re excited to be part of the postseason moving forward."
The next question: How often will the Rose Bowl actually host national semifinals?
If going by basic math, the equation is simple. The playoff agreement includes a 12-year agreement and six bowls in the rotation. Each bowl would host a semifinal four times during the 12-year span.
But don't be surprised if the Rose Bowl hosts the semis fewer than four times between 2015-26. ESPN.com has learned that while the Rose Bowl wants to be part of the playoff, it might not host the semifinals as much as the other bowls in the rotation.
The reason: it doesn't want to go years and years without the traditional Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup.
Ash said Thursday that no decisions have been made on how often each bowl will host semifinal games. The Rose Bowl will continue to discuss its preferences with Delany and Scott.
"It's sitting down with Jim and Larry and working out that balance: How do we become relevant in the postseason and be part of a system, and how do we keep the traditional game?" Ash said. "In order to do that, we've got to sit down with our partners and meet on this. It will take a little while."
A decision on preferences will be made "as a tri-party," Ash said. According to Ash, the Rose Bowl understands the need to adapt while maintaining traditional and historical ties.
The Big Ten's and Pac-12's involvement reinforces the Rose Bowl's sentiments about its two partners and about the traditional matchup. If the Rose Bowl isn't hosting a national semifinal, it will pair a Big Ten team and a Pac-12 team. The 12-year extension announced Thursday with ESPN ensures the Rose Bowl keeps its traditional date (Jan. 1) and time slot (5 p.m. ET), which prevents any other games from taking place at the same time.
"The Rose Bowl will always be the premier postseason bowl game," Ash said, "due to our history and our tradition, and the fact we have the Pac-12 and the Big Ten playing in our game."
But will the Rose Bowl remain relevant if it's not a national semifinal?
"I really do believe it will," Ash said. "The last couple months have been really interesting because there's all this talk about a new model going forward and trying to figure out the national champion. But during that time, there's been a lot of people I've spoken to, and tradition is really important, history and tradition. The Rose Bowl Game is important to all of us. It's a part of America. It's what we do every January 1st at 2 o'clock on the West Coast.
"So it's always going to be relevant in the postseason."
Of course, the Rose Bowl's ideal scenario is to host a Pac-12 team and a Big Ten team in a national semifinal.
"It'd be huge," Ash said. "The best of both worlds."
16hDavid M. Hale