Every year, college football fans travel, host parties and call in sick just to watch the New Year’s Six bowl games. The Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. Each representing a part of college football’s bowl history. But, none hold a candle to the Rose Bowl’s importance and stature among collegiate sports.
The Rose Bowl was the First
120 years ago, college football had it’s very first post-season game, the “Tournament of the Roses”. Stanford vs Michigan. It was a historic mark on college football. Yet, it still was a premature birth of the bowl-era. Because Michigan thoroughly defeated Stanford 49-0, the next football game wasn’t until 1916 when Washington State beat Brown 14-0. However, from 1916 on, the East-West bowl game has been a staple of college football enthusiasm and greatness.
In addition to being the first-ever bowl game, the Rose Bowl Game was also the first:
- Transcontinental radio broadcast of a sporting event (1927)
- Local telecast of a college football game (1948)
- National telecast of a college football game (1952)
- Coast-to-coast color telecast of a college football game (1962)
- College Football Playoff Semifinal (2015)
Because of its rich history, it’s is the grandfather of all bowl games.
The Pageantry of the Rose Bowl
Honestly, is there any other event that’s done it like the Tournament of Roses? For over 100 years, they’ve given football fans everything.
It all starts at 8:00am on New Year’s Day with the Rose Parade. Five and a half miles of marching bands, equestrian units, a royal court and delicately-decorated floats. Filling winter’s gloom with flowers and beauty.
“The Rose Parade’s elaborate floats have come a long way since the Tournament’s early days, and the Rose Parade has stayed true to its floral beginnings. Every inch of every float must be covered with flowers or other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds or bark. The most delicate flowers, including roses, are placed in individual vials of water, which are set into the float one by one.”Tournament of Roses
Obviously, California is the perfect setting for the unimaginable. While countless states deal with winter’s worst each year, Pasadena sits in the 60’s and 70’s. No puffy coats, handwarmers or extra layers are needed for the Golden State. Even more, the backdrop of snow-capped mountains sets it all off. Is there nothing the Rose Bowl can’t offer?
Instead of shivering and trudging through snow, the Rose Parade and the proceeding bowl game breed jealousy from other states. Sunshine, flowers and football on January 1st is pure majesty.
Sponsors Come Second, Not First
Just look at the different bowl games.
- Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
- PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
- Capitol One Orange Bowl
- Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
- Allstate Sugar Bowl
- Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual
Do you see the difference? It’s not the Northwestern Mutual Rose Bowl Game. No. Instead, it’s the Rose Bowl Game, presented by Northwestern Mutual. That small difference makes a huge impact. While every other bowl game is led by their sponsors, this one is different. They used their stature to retain their naming rights.
Because of this decision to prioritize the Rose Bowl’s identity, the fame only grew. Even the newest college football fans know the Rose Bowl.
It’s the first of many, the most decorated and its name is the most known. The Rose Bowl is, and will always be, the king of bowl games.
How Can the Pac-12 Leverage the Rose Bowl for Expanding College Football?
Because of Larry Scott’s failures and the Pac-12’s lack of participation in the College Football Playoffs, something needs to be done. While expanding playoffs is a great idea, Larry Scott still refuses to give up the Rose Bowl.
While the Pac-12 has every right to retain the Rose Bowl, it’s pageantry and history, the Pac-12 is also hurting. It’s the joke of other conferences. For good reason, too. In the College Football Playoff era, just 24 of the 24 participating teams were from the Pac-12. It’s not a good look.
But, if Larry Scott and the Pac-12 conference can leverage the Rose Bowl for playoff expansion, the Pac-12 will rise again. If done correctly, the Pac-12 wouldn’t even be sacrificing the Rose Bowl. Here’s how it can be done.
- Offer up the Rose Bowl for College Football Playoffs with an eight-team expansion
- If a Pac-12 team makes it into the playoffs, the Pac-12 decides which round (excluding the championship game) the Rose Bowl plays. If a Pac-12 team is in that round, they play.
Because most fans and conferences want each conference to have at least one participant in the eight-team expansion, the Pac-12 would always have rights to the Rose Bowl. If they wanted to risk a larger viewing audience, they could bank on a Pac-12 team advancing in the playoffs. But, if they wanted to play it safe, Larry Scott and the conference could schedule the Rose Bowl in the first round of each college football playoffs.
Either way, they get to offer up the most historic bowl in college football history for playoffs each year. The Pac-12 needs expansion and the Tournament of Roses is the way in.
I’m sorry, but this idea is a non-starter.
The Rose Bowl won’t move from January 1st. Period.
There’s also no financial arrangement for the Rose Bowl that is more lucrative than the current one. The PAC 12 actually has equity in the game itself.
If anything, it makes sense to abandon New Year’s Day altogether and just convert the Peach, Cotton, and Fiesta into rotating Playoff hosts. Then the Committee can give the more patrician bowls (Rose, Sugar, Orange) to the conferences.