Rose Bowl deserves to be a top priority
If you are not nodding, you are either ignorant of the Rose Bowl experience or are untroubled by being wrong. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.
Our position on this is unambiguous. When the BCS power brokers meet in Hollywood, Fla., this week with the intention of transforming the college football postseason, the Rose Bowl must be given special status. Why? If you were to request a list from the sports' cognoscenti on the greatest traditions in college football, most would rate the Rose Bowl No. 1.
Some ACC, Big 12 and SEC fans might be shrugging. Their conferences don't play in the Rose Bowl, other than in a couple of BCS-mandated exceptional cases. Why should they care?
Well, I don't live in Egypt, but I care about the pyramids. We're talking about history, folks, about tradition, about maintaining a connection to the past. If our postseason endgame somehow ends the Rose Bowl, it would be like knocking down the Washington Monument because we feel like we can build a bigger and better pointy thing in our nation's capital.
We know that one of the four options that will be discussed -- as first reported by USA Today -- is the "Four Teams Plus" plan. It would make the Rose Bowl an automatic part of a "playoff" that would determine the national champion.
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.
This plan has been widely ridiculed, and for good reason. It's ridiculous. It continues to add subjectivity to the process instead of having more decided on the field of play. That's what we are trying to get rid of.
As I've said before, it doesn't seem that complicated to have a four-team playoff set, then let the Rose Bowl choose next, likely the best available teams from the Pac-12 and Big Ten.
Why should the Rose Bowl get priority? Because it's the Rose Bowl.
Should there be flexibility to the Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup? Perhaps. It's already happened without great loss of life (though there has been a bit of wincing, particularly one year in Berkeley). It might be unavoidable. The game itself, however, is the most sacred relic.
The hope here is this won't end up being only a Jim Delany and Larry Scott crusade. The Big Ten and Pac-12 commissioners obviously have the most at stake among all the pooh-bahs in Florida, but there's no reason for SEC don Mike Slive et al to go all Sun Tzu on the Rose Bowl just to score an Art of War point.
It would be great if Slive et al would take the high-grounded position and recognize the Rose Bowl's special status in college football.
There will be a lot of smart folks in Florida. Let's hope they are smart enough not to drive a carelessly placed wingtip into the game they are charged with protecting.