And then Pasadena will have a menu choice: Would you like "Gumbo?"
or "Gipper?" with your Michigan?
Louisiana State or Notre Dame?
"We haven't made a decision yet,"
Rose Bowl Chief Executive Mitch Dorger said this week between incoming calls and
It was easier in the old days, when
two premier conferences handed their proud champions over to the Rose Bowl and
watched Granddaddy stage a parade, a game and a sunset.
That was before 1998, before the
Rose Bowl joined the Bowl Championship Series and all that it
Almost a decade later, the Rose
Bowl-BCS experiment has been akin to the food most airlines now offer — a mixed
You know the back story: The Rose
Bowl agreed to surrender its Pacific 10 and/or Big Ten anchors to the BCS title
game in years when those schools are ranked No. 1 or No. 2, or, in this case,
No. 1 and No. 2.
In exchange, the Rose Bowl got the
BCS title game every four years … and years like this one.
If USC beats UCLA on Saturday, No.
1 Ohio State will play No. 2 USC for the BCS title on Jan. 8 at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The Rose Bowl will be left to
scrape together a replacement game, and making it means making hard
Option A: Michigan vs. Louisiana State.
Option B: Michigan vs. Notre
Option C (the least likely):
Michigan vs. Louisville or Rutgers.
The debate has been ongoing at
Tournament of Roses headquarters and may spill into Selection Sunday
Pros: LSU has never played in the
Rose Bowl and has never played Michigan.
LSU fans have already committed to
purchasing more than 28,000 Rose Bowl tickets.
LSU would be the first Southeastern
Conference team to play in the Rose Bowl since Alabama in 1946. A year later, the Rose Bowl
entered into what would become the Pac-10/Big Ten
"There is a tradition of SEC
schools in the Rose Bowl game," Dorger said. "We're in the Alabama fight song, for
The Pasadena passage goes, "Fight on, Fight on,
Fight on, men! Remember the Rose Bowl we'll win then."
Michigan versus LSU is the best available Rose
Bowl game on the board.
Michigan will be ranked third and LSU could move up to No.
4 if Florida
loses in the SEC title game.
Cons: Neither team won its
conference. LSU didn't win its own division of the SEC West. No matter how you
dress it up, Michigan-LSU sounds like a glorified Outback
Pros: The Irish would be making
their first appearance in Pasadena since 1925, when Knute Rockne and the
Four Horsemen rode west.
Notre Dame is a "can't lose" for
television ratings and the love/hate interest component.
Cons: Michigan already beat
Notre Dame, 47-21. Who wants to see that again? Notre Dame was just in the
area, on the short end of a 20-point loss to USC.
So what is the Rose Bowl going to
Dorger isn't tipping his hand, and
there is legitimate defense for either selection. Know
• The Rose Bowl isn't obligated to
take the highest ranked team. It can make a flower out of Michigan-Notre Dame if
it so desires.
• There's a provision in BCS rules
that states the commissioners can overturn a selection for the good of the BCS —
"We can look at that if we want to," BCS coordinator Mike Slive said Wednesday —
but it never has.
• In the 2004 Orange Bowl,
Florida State played Miami in a rematch.
• The BCS was designed to pair No.
1 and No. 2 and then allow the other bowls the flexibility to make the best game
But the process is not always
In 2002, the Orange Bowl used a BCS
provision to commandeer Iowa away from the Rose Bowl and pair it
Ouch. The Rose Bowl got so upset it
got the rule changed.
• The Rose Bowl has every right to
jump three or four higher-ranked schools to take Notre Dame and possibly leave
No. 4 LSU in the BCS dust.
That could happen if Arkansas beats Florida in the SEC title game on Saturday and
the Orange Bowl takes the 10-2 Gators on the rebound. The Sugar Bowl would not
want LSU because it would not want an SEC rematch against Arkansas.
"A bowl is free to do what a bowl
is free to do," Dorger said.
Yet, in recent years, there seems
to be a more of a "common-good"
Dorger is aware that what's best
for the BCS this year is for LSU not to be excluded.
And while the idea of Notre Dame is
intriguing, pairing Michigan and LSU would solve a lot of
Taking LSU would free the Sugar
Bowl to pair Notre Dame against the Florida/Arkansas winner and create BCS
Taking LSU would avoid a Notre
Dame-Michigan rematch that Michigan, a long-standing Rose Bowl partner,
would not want.
"We're mindful of the system we're
involved in," Dorger said.
If you had to bet the Big House,
The Rose Bowl decision will be made
Sunday morning by a nine-member committee.
Dorger said past decisions have
always been made with unanimous consent — there has never had to be a
This year could be
The Rose Bowl would be relieved of
the decision, of course, if UCLA upsets USC.
That would drop the Trojans into
the Rose Bowl and make LSU the slam-dunk-choice opponent.
USC vs. LSU — the two schools many
think should have met for the BCS title in 2003.
If nothing else works in the BCS,
Did the Rose Bowl make a mistake in
joining the BCS? Many traditionalists still think so, although without the Rose
Bowl joining, college football would have been denied a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup
2002 (Ohio State was No. 2), 2004 (USC was No. 1) and
2005 (USC was No. 1).
It cuts both ways. Last year,
because it joined the BCS, the Rose Bowl got to stage No. 1 USC vs. No. 2 Texas
in one of the best national title games ever.
In the 2004 Rose Bowl, USC claimed
the Associated Press title with a win over Michigan.
The Rose Bowl also got ho-hum
Miami versus Nebraska in 2001 and, a year later, watched a
USC-Iowa Orange Bowl while the Rose got Washington State-Oklahoma.
Five things you need to know about
the BCS process before Sunday's final standings release:
1: If the Rose Bowl loses
State and USC to the BCS
title game, the Rose Bowl will get the first two replacement picks for losing
teams that would have otherwise played in the Rose Bowl.
2: The at-large selection order
after the Rose Bowl is Sugar, Orange and Fiesta. The Sugar Bowl must take the
SEC champion if it is not ranked No. 1 or No. 2, the Orange gets the Atlantic
Coast Conference champion and the Big 12 champion goes to the
The Big East champion is not
"anchored" to any bowl but must be taken by the Rose, Fiesta, Orange or Sugar
3: If Florida loses on Saturday
and LSU moves up to No. 4 in the BCS, the Tigers are not a "must-take" under the
3-4 provision. If the final BCS order is Ohio State,
USC, Michigan and LSU, Michigan gets an
automatic bid but LSU does not. If the top three teams were all conference
champions, then LSU would get an automatic berth at No. 4.
In 2004, remember, Texas got the Rose Bowl
bid at No. 4 ahead of No. 5 California because the top three teams that year
champions: USC, Oklahoma and Auburn.
4: No. 7 Wisconsin, at 11-1, can't
go to a BCS game when it has a better record and a higher ranking than schools
that will be selected because BCS rules states one conference cannot send more
than two teams to BCS games. Wisconsin's Big
Ten partners, Ohio State and Michigan, have already locked up those
5: The Rose Bowl could select No. 8
Boise State, the only undefeated other than Ohio State, with its at-large pick. Will it
• Change that may be coming: When
he took over as BCS coordinator last January, Slive said he was personally open
to the idea of adding a "plus-one" layer to the BCS — an extra game after the
major bowls are played.
"I haven't changed a bit on that
issue," Slive said Wednesday.
• Alabama fired another football coach this
week. That makes it, oh goodness, who can even keep track…. The latest Crimson
Goner, Mike Shula, dared to go 6-6 the season after he went
See if you detect a trend in the
UCLA basketball coaches since John Wooden retired: Gene Bartow, Gary Cunningham, Larry Brown, Larry Farmer, Walt
Hazzard, Jim Harrick, Steve Lavin, Ben Howland.
Alabama football coaches since Bear Bryant
retired: Ray Perkins, Bill Curry, Gene Stallings, Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione, Mike Price and Mike Shula.
With its next hire of the
post-legend era, Alabama will tie UCLA at eight.