Protecting The Rose Bowl Comment Count

Brian July 17th, 2012 at 4:31 PM


So ESPN is almost tripling what they pay for the Rose Bowl:

ESPN’s deal with the Rose Bowl runs from 2015 through 2026, making it concurrent with the new playoff structure. The Rose Bowl’s new $80 million annual rights fee represents a 167 percent jump from the $30 million the network currently pays.

The Rose Bowl’s partners, the Pac-12 and Big Ten, keep all of that media revenue, except in years when the Rose Bowl is a semifinal game in the playoffs. When the bowl is part of the playoffs, that media revenue would flow through the playoff system and be distributed to all of the FBS conferences. That method of distribution has not been determined yet.

And suddenly the Big Ten and Pac-12's desire to have the Rose Bowl not be a semifinal as often as possible is clear. Money, money, money, the same story as always. That's why the Big Ten walked away from the dream of national semifinals at home sites. To Protect The Rose Bowl

"For us it's critical to keep the Rose Bowl in the equation," Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis told reporters Tuesday after Big Ten meetings hashed out the conference's likely preferred plan.

…by which they mean their money. No more boggling necessary. Explanation money, explanation accepted. Explanation disappointing but unsurprising. Cynicism: achieved.


not so fast, my friend!

Except… has anyone noticed that the current four-team playoff plan does exactly nothing to protect the Rose Bowl? By adopting this system the Big Ten has condemned the thing to a consolation prize, which is what it still could be if home semifinals were part of the mix, and then they wouldn't have to worry about years in which they don't get that mad cheddar. Also there would be home games.

I mean… let's envision a scenario where M is #2, Wisconsin #6, USC #1, and Oregon #9.


#2 Michigan hosts
#1 USC hosts
Rose is UW-UO


#1 USC plays semifinal somewhere
#2 Michigan plays semifinal somewhere
Rose is UW-UO


#1 USC plays semifinal at Rose
#2 Michigan plays semifinal somewhere else
UW, UO pound sand

The scenarios play out similarly when only one team from either conference makes the playoff. The Rose is always the same except when it hosts semis—which it doesn't want to do!—and the only difference is where the non-Rose semis are held. Which is "never Michigan Stadium or anywhere else on a college campus."

In no way is the system with home games worse for the Rose than this one, except sometimes it hosts semifinals that may or may not have Pac-12 and Big Ten teams in them. Which the Rose hates. This is in fact a worse system for preserving the ancestral heritage of the Rose Bowl so pined for in that infamous teleconference above. With the Rose actively trying to back out of its appointed number of semifinal slots, keeping the Rose "part of the equation" clearly can't have anything to do with making a path to the national title.

Conclusion: the Big Ten got pwned at the negotiating table and came back with this Rose Bowl sob story as a face-saving cover. The the face-saving cover is total fiction, but this is not a group of folks above stretching their view of the world to fit whichever narrative makes them look like a proactive accomplisher.

PS: 2.0 space engagement dongle



July 17th, 2012 at 4:55 PM ^

I know this would be a break from Pac 12 and Big 10 tradition but have the Rose Bowl host the National Championship game every year! If any of the other bowl sites whine then just remind them that the Rose Bowl was first and helped expand college football.

The Big 10-Pac 10 Rose Bowl matchup itself has truly been dead since the start of the BCS.


July 17th, 2012 at 5:05 PM ^

I wouldn't mind. No way currently even with the four team playoff of truly determining a national champion. The Big 10 and Pac 10 could keep their agreement and snub the rest.

Probably would be wonderful if they pulled such a move then maybe we can go back to college football circa 1997. We are realizing that the era of the MNC wasn't so bad after all.

French West Indian

July 18th, 2012 at 12:28 PM ^

National championships are for those whiners in the South who are still suffering inferiority complexes.  Far as I'm concerned they can have all the national championships they want.  Hell, give'm two every year if it makes them happy.  Whatever.

As a cranky old M fan, I'd rather lose a Rose Bowl than win a dozen of those stupid national championships.


July 17th, 2012 at 5:21 PM ^

Man, this is all starting to make my head hurt, the more I think it.  Grasping who plays in the Rose Bowl when and how I don't think I fully understand (I do, but I keep reading stuff making me question how much I really grasp).  But yea, once again we re-learn it's all about what the O'Jays harmonize about, and I don't mean "Love Train"....(bass line) Money Money Money Moneeeyyyy

It's almost redundant to talk about anymore.  I mean this tongue in cheek, but we constantly write to one another about what should be done, what makes the most sense, why things should be one way over another, etc..  Why do we do it?  The higher ups always come back to give us a "final" product that takes none of what makes the most sense (or even remotely close) etc. etc., because all of these fools really care about is $$$ and how they can exploit the most $$$ out of whatever endeavor there involved in, in our case NCAA Football.  We're left to bi**h and moan, rightfully so, because what we're left with is a crap-shoot of product of what theoretically "could have been" a pretty good one.


July 17th, 2012 at 5:32 PM ^

When college football fully embraces the "mo' money" philosophy that is already at the heart of the sport and abandons the flat-out illusion of tradition preservation, I think it will have the ironic effect of being better than it is right now. It would certainly come off as more honest.

All the playoff arrangement did for me was confirm my suspicion that we are in an increasingly strange period right now where the old gatekeepers of the sport (i.e. bowl people) have not yet died off and the capitalistic change artists have arrived at the table. To watch them do business together is awkward and it does nothing for the fans.

I can see why Bo resigned from his AD spot in protest. The sport has become farcial and he knew crap like this was coming. 


Blue in Seattle

July 17th, 2012 at 5:34 PM ^

I think I'm missing something from that conclusion about getting pwned at the negotiation table.  For any Bowl game the teams playing get the money.  This means Big Ten and Pac-12 will get the money from whatever bowl they play in.  It's true the distribution from the Semi Finals isn't determined yet, but I bet it has something to do with paying the teams participating, which for most conferences, means they split things evenly.

And then how much is ESPN bidding for the Semis?  Cause, if they are bidding the same 167% increase, then when the Rose Bowl is hosting it is getting similar growth.  If the Big Ten isn't involved in the Semi, then it won't get the money from the semi, which seems to be fair.

If the Rose Bowl doesn't want to be part of the Semis, then the only one I see getting pwned is ESPN for bidding so much for a consolation prize between the two conferences with the highest viewship/fans.

I'm also scratching my head on the "cynicism: achieved".  I mean, the whole point of having a play-off is to have more games to watch, and games that have high importance.  Where has this ever been done without thinking about the increased revenue?  This is the highest volume spectator sport in the world, and a per game viewership scale.  And the more that money get's back to the University, the more it goes to improving the facilities and coaching recieved by the student athletes.  Just like academic research is about getting huge grant money to pay professors, and build facilities like silicon chip fabrication machines so that students can study the latest cutting edge stuff.

The only thing I think needs to be fixed about the bowl games, is that the NCAA and the conferences need to tell the Bowl Admins to sell their own damn tickets!  I mean the Universities can easily link to the Ticket purchasing website of each bowl.  This whole, "purchase a block of tickets up front to resell" is archaic mentality that needs to go away.

Sorry, maybe I'm dense, but I'm not seeing the downside here, except for the dream of having these games played in snow.



Bobby Digital

July 18th, 2012 at 12:02 AM ^

Cynicism because the move priortizes maximizing revenue over winning. More money for facilities and coaches is nice, but we don't need it at the cost of never having a home field (or anything close to a home field) playoff game - both as it relates to a competitive advantage and for the university/students in general.

Or I totally misinterpreted what he meant by that. One of the two though.


July 17th, 2012 at 6:37 PM ^

were instantly devalued when the semi-final games were decided to be within the bowl system and not as home games. Of course, the other major bowls are not actively trying not be to not be involved in the semis, which is the stupidest thing ever. In a hypothetical scenario where the Rose never hosts a semi-final, how much do you think ESPN will pay after this new contract is done? A Rose Bowl without any role in the future playoffs becomes a quaint old man in a smoking jacket. Nice guy but irrelevant. 


July 17th, 2012 at 7:07 PM ^


Can we quantify the trade-off of what we gave up (in terms of $) in playing a home semi game in the B1G versus sticking to the traditional B1G versus Pac-12 playing in the Rose Bowl? I mean, if the B1G really was going to stick to its original stance of playing semis at a home campus (if ranked #1 or #2)  . . .  what would the cost (ESPN bid $) of that be versus going to a Bowl site? It seems from Brian’s analysis that we gave up a home semi for a share of the increased Rose Bowl income. Not worth it in my opinion.

I think that home sites would be more spirited, unique, interesting and a definite advantage to the home team. Thus making the regular season worth more and thus making SOS (“strength of schedule” worth more). I think it would substantially less expensive for the home team to host a semi, generate more local income (food and lodging) but ultimately I think the viewership of the semi games would be higher. Yes, there are logistical and weather issues but wait until you have pouring rain in a couple of outdoor semi games. I can’t wait until college football tries out home team semi games. I would like to see that happen. College football in the snow is not all bad.


July 17th, 2012 at 8:13 PM ^

... then we gave up nothing, and no one got p*wned.  AFAICT, no one wanted home playoff games except us and half the Pac12.  If Delaney and co. didn't do that math and capitulate, he would be ill-serving his employers.  The fact that the fans desperately want them is irrelevant.

I imagine the discussions to have gone something like this:


Delaney: We want home playoff g-

Everyone Else (EE): NO!

Delaney: OK, in exchange for not pushing that we want -

SEC: Push it all you want, it's not happening, so you'll get nothing and like it.

Delaney: <pause> And if we don't agree to the playoff?

EE: You won't be in it.

Delaney: <pause> Right.  OK, what's next?



July 17th, 2012 at 11:29 PM ^

Totally agree.  Some people need to get their heads out of the fantasy world where Jim Delaney can dictate what everyone else does.  We weren't getting homefield advantage, ever.  And if the consolation prize is that every Big Ten team gets 80/2/12 = $3.33 MILLION most years from the Rose Bowl deal, then so be it.


July 17th, 2012 at 9:43 PM ^

Not sure what tradition the Rose Bowl is protecting by ducking the semis.  Most years, the Big Ten Champion or the Pac 12 Champion, or both, will be playing in the semis.  

The "Traditional" non-semi Rose Bowls will not be featuring the traditional Big Ten Champion vs. Pac 12 Champion.  They'll be featuring at least one runner-up.

I guess as long as ESPN is willing to pay $80 million for Stanford vs. Michigan State, nobody but the lowly fans will care.



July 17th, 2012 at 11:03 PM ^

Do we know for sure that in the years the Rose Bowl hosts a semi that it won't also host the actual Rose Bowl? I don't recall reading that anywhere. That is a pretty fundamental assumption in Brian's analysis.


July 17th, 2012 at 11:36 PM ^

I know everyone wants hosted playoff games, but that was never going to happen with the southern schools involved. So nobody got worked over here because there were no debates.

Personally, I watch CFB for the weeks leading up to January, and could not care less what happens after that.


July 18th, 2012 at 7:00 AM ^

In reality, ESPN is paying that record money solely for the semi games and is willing to broadcast the rest to lock down the entire bowl.  They know the traditional Rose Bowl match up without National Championship implications is meh for them money wise, but they'll hit a home run in the semi-final years.