Making the rounds this week in a very quiet way is something that was disclosed at the Big Ten's opening media day by Commissioner Jim Delany as reported by the Los Angeles Times, that if a Pac Ten or Big Ten team makes the National Championship game, then the Rose Bowl must select a qualifying non-BCS school to take that slot and not the second best school from the BCS conference losing that slot.
So, if lets say Southern Cal gets into the big game in the 2010 season, and this is effective starting in the 2010 season, then the Rose Bowl committee must take a non-BCS school ranked in the top twelve in the BCS ratings. That could mean a faceoff between an Ohio State or Penn State against a Utah, TCU, Boise State, or BYU in the biggest bowl game not for all the marbles, and a major shot in the arm for a mid-major.
But, and there always is a but, under the terms in the contract, once the Rose Bowl does this once, they will not need to do this again under the terms of the contract which expires after the 2013 season.
Still, just like the major ink that Boise State received by beating Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl a couple years back, it is a major chance for a smaller program to show casual fans who only watch the major bowls and the Rose in particular that they belong on the same playing field as those mighty Big Ten/Pacific Ten teams. A perceived upset, maybe not a real one as the smaller school may actually be the better team, will increase pressure on adding a playoff as the title Rose Bowl Champion does stick out a little bit more than the others in the mind of casual fans.
The flip side, of course, is that Cinderella gets squished and the perception continues that these programs are not quite ready for prime time, which is probably not the correct or fair assumption. It does raise the risk-reward factors for schools that feel they are slighted by the whole process and gives the "Granddaddy of them all" a bit more intrigue and the feel of something really being on the line.
Whether this happens or not all depends on the fortunes of the Big Ten and Pac Ten schools. They are the ones that has to run the table or show that their one loss was good enough to put them in the title game to begin with. One must also imagine that the organizers of the Rose Bowl just never want to see anyone besides those two conferences play in the game no matter the rankings, and are not that enthused for having to take one for the bowl team.
If their worry is a drop in prestige for having USC beat BYU 59-3, then that is the chance they will take although the difference between schools the way the Rose Bowl is set up now is a bit bigger at times then they would like. They also run the chance of building on their prestige if you would have BYU winning on a last second field goal. For as much grousing that probably was exchanged privately, the plus side could equally be as big.
Hope your slingshot is ready, David.
Until next week.