College Football Playoffs: Rose Bowl Plus Option A Big Ten, Pac-12 Power Play

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: A general view as the Wisconsin Badgers take on the Oregon Ducks at the 98th Rose Bowl Game on January 2, 2012 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

So you've probably heard about this plus-one modification proposal.

In the latter plan, the four highest-ranked teams at the end of the regular season would meet in semifinals unless the Big Ten or Pac-12 champ, 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.

If you're a fan of determining an ultimate college football champion, the Rose Bowl opt-in playoff proposal is a stupid idea. Instead of minimizing the impact of popularity contests, it would give us TWO of them--one to determine who gets in these bowl games, and another to determine the two best teams of the three to decide to play in the title. It'd be a guaranteed uproar every season, like the worst possible episode of Toddlers and Tiaras imaginable.

That being said.

There's no reason for the Pac-12 NOT to explore, much less oppose the idea.

Out of all the remaining bowls left in an archaic postseason system, the Rose Bowl is the only left with any brand power. It's the only still constantly played on New Year's Day, it has the marquee Tournament Of Roses parade, and it always brings in the highest TV ratings of any of the bowl contests that isn't the title game. It stands thanks to the one thing that is eroding every day in college athletics: Tradition. The lasting power of Big Ten/Pac-12 in Pasadena keeps it propped up over the latest battle of ACC/Big East retreads in Miami or whatever Frankensteinian machination the Fiesta Bowl throws out at us every season.

If you want to know why Jim Delany is not to be trifled with, proposals like this one are why. The Big Ten commissioner still holds enormous sway in the NCAA universe, and he plans to use every bit of it to leverage the meaning of the Rose Bowl toward the next playoff system. His conference has been marginalized after Ohio State got waxed two title games straight, and he wants back in on the action. A Rose Bowl neutral site game guarantees the Big Ten the best possible opportunity at a national championship berth, and it's guaranteed to get the most TV ratings. Make it meaningful, and those ratings will almost certainly leap up, and the revenue will flow in for both conferences.

Larry Scott may represent the future of college athletics, but for now Delany is the present, and I doubt Scott would be totally opposed to this if it was the nuclear option. They can either get Scott's intended proposal (a plus-one with home games rather than neutral bowl games for the top two teams), or they get a dumb Delany plan that still maximizes the Pac-12's chances of getting a title berth. It ensures the Big Ten and the Pac-12 a seat at the table every year, deserved or not. It's not like the polls or the computers will help those two conferences out, considering the growing SEC creep every year. When in doubt, appeal to the self-interest of the conference.

If Scott can't get what he wants, might as well throw his weight behind an idea no one else wants His noncommittal reply is good enough.

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