The 2010 college football season denied the Rose Bowl its precious Big Ten-Pacific 10 matchup. But civilization as we know it did not go all Cormac McCarthy.
In fact, Texas Christian and Wisconsin staged a compelling game that attracted a then-record crowd and drew comparable television ratings to recent, more traditional Rose Bowl matchups such as Southern California-Michigan and Southern California-Illinois.
And that isn’t the only example. Since the Bowl Championship Series’ advent in 1998, five Rose Bowls, two of which doubled as national title games, have lacked either a Big Ten or Pac-10 representative.
Yet as the 11 Bowl Subdivision conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick adjourned meetings Wednesday in Chicago, news spread, courtesy of CBS’ Dennis Dodd and others, that the Big Ten and Pac-12 (the league added Colorado and Utah last year) are resisting the four-team playoff that most anticipate for 2014 and beyond.
Their alternative is a championship game after the bowls, the so-called “plus-one model,” which would, of course, coddle the Rose Bowl.
I can’t imagine the minority prevailing. Fans would revolt, media would pounce and millions of dollars in television rights would be left on the table.
“There's a focus on a four-team playoff,” ACC commissioner John Swofford told reporters, as quoted by Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples, “and getting a consensus on how that will work.”
A four-team playoff is certainly the ACC’s preference. In a plus-one world, the new Southeastern Conference-Big 12 bowl arrangement and the Rose Bowl could, in some seasons, leave the ACC champion with an inferior postseason opponent, a runner-up from one of those leagues or perhaps the Big East winner.
A lesser bowl opponent would affect strength-of-schedule and perhaps access to the national title contest.
Now were the ACC's opponent a top-10 Notre Dame, a plus-one format would suit fine.
The BCS mafia is scheduled to sit down again next Wednesday in Chicago, and most expected they would then forward a plan to the Presidential Oversight Committee for rubber-stamping. Chaired by Virginia Tech’s Charles Steger, that panel is set to meet June 26 in Washington, D.C.
But if the commissioners and Swarbrick submit options rather than a singular structure, the presidents may need time to digest.
Demand for a playoff, the method by which every other team sport on the planet determines its champion, has been building for years. Those who desperately cling to the Rose Bowl’s antiquated tradition can’t possibly louse this up.
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