With College Football Playoff expansion stalled and frustration soaring, a new event has been created: The blame game.
It’s the Big Ten’s fault for insisting on automatic bids for the Power Five champions.
It’s the Group of Five’s fault for not caving to Power Five wishes.
It’s the ACC’s fault for not supporting expansion in any form.
It’s the Rose Bowl’s fault for … being the Rose Bowl.
Only one of the six major New Year’s bowl games has been repeatedly singled out as an impediment to expansion – the one that has been around since 1902.
In media reports detailing the obstacles, the Granddaddy has been labeled “stubborn” and the “big issue” and described as seeking “preferential treatment” in a 12-team format.
What role does the Rose Bowl hope to play in the expanded CFP? To what degree has it contributed to the impasse? And how is the Pac-12 working to support its longtime partner?
Commissioner George Kliavkoff provided insight late last week during an appearance on the “Paul Finebaum Show,” which airs on ESPN radio and the SEC Network.
Kliavkoff called the desire to craft a 12-team playoff while retaining college football’s bowl tradition a “difficult balance.”
He noted that the Rose Bowl “has been incredibly flexible the last couple times we’ve changed the playoff system.”
And he acknowledged having “a fiduciary obligation to the Rose Bowl, as does the Big Ten.”
He also detailed exactly what the Rose Bowl is seeking in a 12-team event: “They want to be Jan. 1 at 2 p.m. Pacific every single year.”
That doesn’t sound like much, but the additional rounds of competition complicate the situation.
The current structure allows for the Rose Bowl to maintain the immensely valuable New Year’s Day time slot whether it hosts a semifinal or not.
But a 12-team playoff pushes the semifinals into the second weekend in January. The Rose Bowl’s matchup and broadcast window would look something like this under the proposed three-year rotation for the six major bowls:
Jan. 1: Rose Bowl hosts quarterfinal
Jan. 1: Rose Bowl hosts quarterfinal
Jan. 8: Rose Bowl hosts semifinal
“What we’re asking for for the Rose Bowl is a tiny little ask,’’ Kliavkoff told Finebaum.
“One out of every three years, they would be hosting a semifinal. They want the right to host a traditional Rose Bowl game if they want to.”
That’s right: In the years when it serves as a semifinal host on (or around) Jan. 8, the Rose Bowl also wants to stage a non-playoff game on Jan. 1 at 2 p.m. that would match the Pac-12 against the Big Ten.
In other words, Granddaddy wants his broadcast window every year, regardless of the playoff rotation.
“If they do,” Kliavkoff explained, “the value of that Rose Bowl would be significantly decreased” – when the matchup isn’t part of the CFP – “because if you put 12 teams into the playoff, they don’t get our best against the best team from the Big Ten …
“To balance out what they giving up, we’ve asked that three hours out of every three years be protected against having to compete (on television) against a CFP quarterfinal.
“And everything we’ve asked for for the Rose, a tiny little ask, if the other contract bowls – if the Sugar Bowl, if the Orange Bowl want similar accommodations when they’re hosting a semifinal - we’d be willing to give into that, as well.
“It’s three hours every three years we’re asking for protection on.”
Put another way: With the commissioners grappling over the larger issues delaying playoff expansion (12 teams vs. eight teams and the allocation of automatic bids), the Rose Bowl is a convenient impediment for anyone seeking impediments.
Once the broader framework gets hammered out, Granddaddy’s request shouldn’t hold up the process.
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