Strange Love: The Big Ten & The Rose Bowl

Like many people who follow college football on a consistent basis, I find myself often agreeing with Dan Wetzel, especially with his views on the playoff system and how that should look in the future.

Ever since he published Death to the BCS I knew this is someone who had his head on straight and had a smart plan for a better college football system.

Or perhaps he didn't have a perfect system---there's plenty to argue about there---but he is really adept at pointing out what definitely needs to be removed from college football and any ensuing playoff.

Over the past few months there's been a debate raging about how to pull stage this playoff in college football, and if one thing has been made clear through it all so far, it's that the Big Ten continues to be the fool in this game.

Cue Wetzel's recent article on the Big Ten and their love for the Rose Bowl.

Normally, we like to offer rebuttals to articles if that will promote some discussion but this is one of the instances where I feel obliged to reinforce some of the things Wetzel brings up with the Big Ten and its thinking.

Let's take a look at some quotes from his story.

"It's wrong to criticize someone for who they choose to love. Instead, just marvel at the depth of the relationship. The Big Ten has abandoned its smart, savvy push for a playoff that featured on-campus semifinal sites and a title game open to bid by cities across the country, including the Midwest, because it just couldn't bear the thought of cheating on a bowl game."

I twitch uncontrollably every time a certain facet of a new playoff is thrown to the wayside because of the bowl games. Throwing away on-campus semifinal games is such an egregious error that I pray it won't last very long.

"There are still plenty of sober voices out there who think outsourcing hundreds of millions in postseason games is at best illogical and at worst corrupt."

Corrupt---remember that word. The bowl games are corrupt organizations hiding behind tax-free status and blatantly stealing money from college football and universities who desperately could use millions of dollars right now.

"In an effort to help the Rose Bowl, the conference is willing for a playoff to also be staged in Miami Gardens and Glendale, and so on, rather than Columbus and Ann Arbor."

The playoff will be awesome, but who would rather see these games be played at Sun Life Stadium instead of The Big House? Seriously, who can argue that the bowl sites are better?

"A playoff will be great no matter where the games are played. It'd just be better on campus."

Nodding...

"But the bowl lobby has won, and a select few of them are about to become even more fabulously wealthy off the labors of student-athletes. Leave it to the inevitable congressional investigation to sort out how the no-bid deals were reached."

This is a big one for me. Yes, I want a playoff but I wanted a playoff that was free from the greedy hands of the bowl lobby. When you actually do some research on these bowls it's sickening how grotesquely wealthy their leaders have become from staging ONE game a year. It's even more sickening how they've got their claws in the athletic directors, presidents, and minions of the universities who take what amounts to bribes to keep this strip club spending, golf bash, and cruise ship vacation party going.

All that money wasted that could have been in the coffers of these money-poor universities and instead is blown on a select few elites.

We got our hopes up that with a playoff all of this (or most of it) would come to a end, but instead, now these bowl chairmen and lobbyists are going to have more money than ever once the playoffs begin. A huge selling point to a playoff was that it would generate a ton more money for schools, but now they are going to throw it away to the bowl games.

These bowl executives must be laughing uncontrollably at the irony of it all. Laughing all the way to the bank.

"Whoa, some people and government were coming down hard on us there for a couple years...even threw some people in jail. We came through it though and now we'll have more money than ever!!"

"Possible home-field advantage for Big Ten teams? We love the Rose Bowl."

Dumb.

"Making the elements, which Big Ten teams are presumably better equipped to handle, a factor in the playoffs? We love the Rose Bowl."

Dumber.

"Showcasing the incredible game-day environment of Camp Randall, Happy Valley or the Big House? We love the Rose Bowl."

Dumb and dumber.

"Creating economic impact in the league's hometowns? We love the Rose Bowl."

Beyond dumb.

"Somewhere Mike Slive of the SEC and Larry Scott of the Pac-12 are kicking back with a cackle of delight. These guys are angling for every possible edge while the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl sit in adjacent bathtubs, holding hands and waiting for the moment to be right."

This feels like such a Notre Dame-y thing to do. Purposely turn your back on advantages for your teams---both competitively and financially---in the name of a rusty old tradition. You're damn right the Big Ten's opponents are laughing about this.

"It would be a competitive advantage to have semifinal games at home fields ... but the bowls have been good to us," Nebraska AD Tom Osborne said."

Oh no, Tom. One year in the Big Ten and they've already got you?

"If rampant profiteering, indictments charging corruption and millions in unnecessary expenses passed onto the schools counts as "been good to us" than the Big Ten may be the battered spouse here."

Just throwing important money out the window...it's all good.

"Yes, the vaunted bowl experience must be protected for the players. It's cool. Bowls are fun. Except in the same meeting the Big Ten proposed moving bowl eligibility from 6-6 to 7-5, which means maybe half a dozen smaller bowls will, indeed, be destroyed and the experience of those players apparently isn't worth protecting. If only those games were as loveable as the Rose Bowl."

Even when they try to do something right (raising the standards for bowl games) it exposes their hypocrisy.

"The athletic directors talk about trying to maintain or improve the meaning of the regular season, but then they want to take out the incentive of home-field advantage so it really doesn't matter whether you finish first or fourth."

This is a crying shame. Watching the home-field advantage play out towards the end of the season would add so much to the regular season---and that doesn't even take into account how much more hype and pageantry would result from the games themselves held on campus' across the country.

"There's a part of me that wants to play a team from the Southwest or the Southeast in five-degree weather," Ohio State's Gene Smith told the Sporting News. "But is it really right for the game?"

No, college football simply cannot take a page out of the country's most successful sport and play these games inside the home stadiums of the higher ranked team. How could that ever be right for the game???

"Plenty of them [the Big Ten teams] could use the economic impact of staging these massive events in the Midwest too. But you can't put a price on love."

How sad. Hopefully this doesn't last.

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