"It's not only the Rose Bowl, it's the Midwest, it's the West Coast. It's one of the top 10 single-day television properties in the world, and it performs." -- Jim Delany
Let's face it: The Big Ten commissioner is wrong -- when it comes to the first part, anyway.
This isn't your granddaddy's Rose Bowl. Frankly, it hasn't been for the last 14 years. You know the story by now. In 1998, the ever-popular Bowl Championship Series was created, starting a four-year rotation that included the four majors bowls -- the Fiesta, the Sugar, the Orange and the Rose -- which would host the national championship game once every four years.
The Rose Bowl, historically played every Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif., had been a Pac-12 and Big Ten postseason affair. That sense of tradition, though, is largely no more. And as of late, it really hasn't lived up to that. In the BCS era, we've seen a team from the Big East (Miami), one from the Mountain West Conference (TCU) and five from the Big XII all play in the Granddaddy.
We've seen change. That's fine. That's fair. But can we stop the incessant cries for a preservation of a tradition that, frankly, isn't what it's advertised?
The Rose Bowl meant a lot in the 60s, the 70s, the 80s, and even the 90s. For years, it was celebrated and served as an integral part of the college football experience. But in a BCS world, where simply winning the Pac-12 or the Big Ten doesn't suffice for many programs, it doesn't carry the same magnitude. It's an afterthought in many ways.
For the record, I like the Rose Bowl. It's an important aspect of the sport and valued aspect, but let's not pretend it's sacred. It's not. Not now.
Yet Delany is right on his second point: The Rose Bowl does perform ... financially. Per Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel:
"Rose Bowl total revenue fiscal 2010 (double host): $107.7 million," Wetzel tweeted earlier this week. "Only six entire athletic departments [are] bigger."
Which might explain why we're seeing the Big Ten athletic directors insist any sort of postseason, playoff proposal includes the Rose Bowl in some form.
"For us, it's critical to keep the Rose Bowl in the equation," Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis told the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday. "There's historical value and future value to have the Rose Bowl connected to Michigan State, Michigan and the Big Ten, and the ‘home' [proposal] takes that out."
Maybe this is for the money, still. Maybe it's still nostalgia. Maybe they really do care about the tradition -- it's college football, still.
None of know, but we do know the Rose Bowl isn't a West Coast-Midwest affair any longer.