Monday, December 06, 2004

Rose Bowl Blues

Preface: Michigan to play Texas in the 2005 Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA)

Readers who live in the Los Angeles area today were treated to this headline emblazoned across the top of the Los Angeles Daily News, "Next Rose Bowl matchup stinks for California." The article refers to the University of California (Berkeley), but could be taken for the state as a whole.

From 1947 to 2002, the Rose Bowl featured the matchup between the champions of the Big 10 and Pac 10, but several years ago the collegiate sports marketing machine came up with the Bowl Championship Series, which attempted to ford a peculiar anachronism in American college football: the lack of an agreed-upon national championship game. The mythical "winner" in the past was crowned via coaches and writers polls, often leading to split championships.

The algorithm that constitutes the BCS is not perfect, and sports fans are still arguing over rankings, leading to the same lack of consensus. What it has succeeded in accomplishing is the dwindling importance of the post-season bowl series. In the vain search for an "untainted" national championship game between #1 and #2, it has cheapened the other 27 bowl games that pitted conferences with traditional rivalries against one another. For decades fans could look forward to a certain bowl game if they won their conference, or at least an exciting match-up in a lesser bowl game. Now, all the bowls below the Big Four are seen as essentially "worthless" given the hoopla and media attention to one or two teams. And teams from outside the media spotlight are critical of a weighted objective/subjective ranking system that favors old favorites from "upstart" regional universities.

Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers agreed, ``It just shows it's a faulty system, and we've got to do something to change it up,'' Rodgers said. ``I bet Auburn is pretty ticked, too. ... Nobody cares about West Coast football, I don't think. I just hope Southern Cal represents us well.''

Not just West Coast football, but also collegiate tradition.

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