Rose Bowl has been known as the Granddaddy of them all for the bowl games, and has had a sense of superiority over the rest of college football. The Rose Bowl resisted change to join the BCS which lead to a split title in 1997 with Michigan and Nebraska.
Tradition has been a huge part of the Tournament of Roses by having the Pac-10 and Big 10 champs face each other on Jan. 1. They finally broke down and joined the BCS, and when the Pac-10 champion—really just USC—or the Big 10 champion was in the BCS title game the Rose Bowl would try very hard to get their traditional matchup.
That lead to at least one huge eye sore when the 2007 Rose Bowl featured a 9-3 Illinois against 10-2 USC. Illinois was ranked 16th in the BCS final poll while USC was 8th. There were other teams that could have been chosen such as Kansas or Georgia, because the Rose Bowl had the first choice with Ohio State being in the BCS title game.
Utah, Boise State to the Rose Bowl? It could happen soon: Over the course of the week I found out that there is an interesting little nugget in the new BCS contract with ESPN, which will begin after the 2010 regular season.
In past contracts if the Rose Bowl lost one of its traditional partners, the Big Ten or Pac-10 champ, to the BCS championship game, it could simply fill with another Big Ten or Pac-10 team that qualified. That’s how a 9-3 Illinois team got to Pasadena two years ago.
But in the new contract, I’m told, there is an interesting clause: The first time in the deal that the Rose loses one of its champions to the BCS title game, that opening will be automatically filled by a Coalition (non-BCS conference) team if one has qualified.
For example: Let’s say Southern Cal wins the Pac-10 and qualifies for the BCS championship game in 2010. And let’s say Utah or Boise State goes undefeated again the wins the Mountain West or WAC. That team, if it doesn’t get into the big game, would automatically go to the Rose, where no Coalition team has played before.
What’s the significance of this, you ask? It is another way that the BCS is increasing access of the five Coalition conferences to all of the games in system. Should the BCS get sued and hauled back before Congress, it is another way it can counter the claim that the Coalition schools don’t have enough access.
Totally agree with the last sentence of the article because of the Anti-BCS bill in Congress, which has been extensively written about on the web. (Some articles can be found: here, here, here, and here.)
Then the six automatic qualifier leagues can mention how the Rose Bowl is allowing access to the 'little' guys and are not truly a money grabbing, gold pocket, greedy buch of people.
The good news is that the Rose Bowl will not take another 9-3 school from the Big 10 or Pac-10, plus there is always interest in seeing the non-automatic qualifiers in a BCS game. Since ratings are the name of the game, having more interest, and more importantly, eyeballs, on the most popular bowl game never hurts.
Just for fun, if this change had been implemented since the first BCS buster, the Rose Bowl would have looked like this:
2004 Rose Bowl: #5 Utah (11-0) vs. #13 Michigan (9-2)
2006 Rose Bowl #9 Boise State (12-0) vs. #8 USC (10-2)
2007 Rose Bowl #10 Hawai'i (12-0) vs. #6 USC (10-2)
The only matchup out of these that might not have been an improvement is the 2004 game, which was an epic game with Vince Young and Texas.
That clause is still interesting, and one has to believe the Rose Bowl was bullied by ESPN to make this decision to allow the non-BCS school in the Rose Bowl if the school loses one of its traditional partners to the BCS title game.