The Big Ten likes to appeal to, shall we say, traditional college football values. There are legends! Leaders! Heroes! The new kids are Penn State and Nebraska! Boise State will never join the party! And after the BCS tried to get its grubby little hands on the Rose Bowl for its own nefarious non-Big Ten, non-Pac-12 purposes, the Big Ten had to step back in and reaffirm its relationship with Pasadena.
Well, the winds are a-changin', and a playoff is coming to college football. That's not official, but come on, we all know it. So if there's a four-team playoff, then a hypothetical Big Ten representative among the four might have to eschew its Rose Bowl bid to play for the championship, not unlike with the BCS Championship these days. Small price to pay, right? Not so fast: Jim Delany doesn't want to pay the price at all!
From the USA Today, the Big Ten and Pac-12 have figured out a way to participate in a four-team playoff AND keep the Rose Bowl in-house. If you're thinking "Oh no, this already sounds unnecessarily complicated," congratulations, you win! In the Big Ten's 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.
In other words, let's say these are the BCS standings at the end of 2015 or whatever:
3. Ohio State
5. Virginia Tech
Should a Big Ten playoff team play in the Rose Bowl?
Despite being in the top four, Ohio State would go to the Rose Bowl to meet Stanford, while Virginia Tech slides into OSU's spot in the semifinals. Let's say Texas wins, and whoever faces Florida beats them (yes, the SEC never ever loses in the postseason, but let's just say). Ohio State romps against Stanford, but since Stanford isn't ranked high—something OSU has utterly no control over—the BCS committee has to choose between third-ranked OSU and a lower-ranked team that just beat Florida. Regardless of who gets chosen here, someone who just won their first-round playoff game is going to feel incredibly cheated when they have to go home anyway, no?
Look, the appeal of the Rose Bowl is obvious. It's the incarnation of tradition and pageantry that the Big Ten fetishizes (and, let's be clear, makes giant amounts of money off of).
But the reason the Big Ten and Pac-12 need the Rose Bowl isn't that it's the best postseason option of them all; it's just better than all the other non-championship BCS bowls. If a championship is on the line, a Big Ten or Pac-12 team is dropping the Rose Bowl like a bad habit and sprinting to the BCS Championship Game. The same would also happen with a BCS Semifinal Game if the teams were given the opportunity. As it stands, this Rose Bowl exemption can only lessen a playoff team's chance of making the championship game, and for that reason alone it's a terrible, terrible idea for the Big Ten.