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Big Ten Football: Let's Stop Fetishizing the Rose Bowl Already

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Big Ten Football: Let's Stop Fetishizing the Rose Bowl Already
Matt Kincaid/Getty Images
Looks like a Big Ten party to me!

Stewart Mandel's dispatches from the BCS meetings indicate that the conference commissioners aren't at a consensus, but at the very least coming closer to it:

"Multiple sources with direct knowledge of last week's discussions in South Florida have confirmed to SI.com that the new favored proposal for a four-team playoff within the bowl system would place the two semifinal games at the traditional anchor bowls of the No. 1 and 2 teams' conferences. For example, No. 1 Alabama of the SEC would host the No. 4 team in the Sugar Bowl, while No. 2 USC of the Pac-12 would host the No. 3 team in the Rose Bowl."

This idea is, of course, lousy.

There's no good reason for involving bowls other than the continuing love affair the bowls' directors have with conference commissioners—a relationship that has quite little to do with the sport of college football itself or its fans. And nowhere is that slavish codependency more evident than with Jim Delany and the Rose Bowl.

If a Big Ten team is in the top two seeds, where should it play its semifinal game?

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The intent of the "traditional anchor bowl" should be to give the more highly-ranked team a home-field advantage of sorts. That will never be the case with the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl.

At best it is a neutral site. More usually it's a game against USC in the Trojans' backyard. That the Big Ten is so beholden to the Rose Bowl's best interests is a case study in counterintuitive reasoning.

The conferences have agreed that a four-team playoff is best for college football. That is accepted across the board. In every playoff, the highest seeds are incentivized, mostly by way of opponent and/or location.

There is no shortage of game-ready stadiums in the Big Ten footprint, including the 12 that the member schools already use several times a year. If the Big Ten wants to pick where a higher seed plays, it should choose somewhere around the Big Ten.

And yet, the fetishization of the Rose Bowl and tradition itself demands otherwise, so Jim Delany demands otherwise. It's embarrassing.

The Rose Bowl will survive outside of the playoffs. Bowl games will survive outside of the playoffs. The top two teams in the nation have already found themselves in a playoff system (a very brief one, but still), and the Rose Bowl did not crumble.

Taking away the third- and fourth-best teams so they can play for an actual championship will also not cause the Rose Bowl to crumble.

But it's obvious that the conference commissioners are struggling (and that is putting it nicely) to incorporate the Rose Bowl into the playoff proceedings and cement this vestige of decades past onto the future of college football.

The Rose Bowl is just that, though—a bowl.

Bowls are not playoff games. We don't need to pretend they are. They have their time, their place and their tradition. Those things just happen to have nothing to do with the college football playoffs, and it serves nobody's best interests but the bowls themselves to pretend otherwise.

Let's get our priorities straight.

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