"We haven't made a decision yet," Rose Bowl Chief Executive Mitch Dorger said this week between incoming calls and aspirin intake.
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 ensnarled.
Almost a decade later, the Rose Bowl-BCS experiment has been akin to the food most airlines now offer — a mixed bag.
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.
The Rose Bowl will be left to scrape together a replacement game, and making it means making hard decisions:
Option C (the least likely):
The debate has been ongoing at Tournament of Roses headquarters and may spill into Selection Sunday morning.
Pros: LSU has never played in the
Rose Bowl and has never played
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
"There is a tradition of SEC
schools in the Rose Bowl game," Dorger said. "We're in the
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 Bowl.
Notre Dame argument
Pros: The Irish would be making
their first appearance in
Notre Dame is a "can't lose" for television ratings and the love/hate interest component.
So what is the Rose Bowl going to do?
Dorger isn't tipping his hand, and there is legitimate defense for either selection. Know this:
• 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,
• The BCS was designed to pair No. 1 and No. 2 and then allow the other bowls the flexibility to make the best game they can.
But the process is not always pretty.
In 2002, the Orange Bowl used a BCS
provision to commandeer
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
"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
Taking LSU would free the Sugar Bowl to pair Notre Dame against the Florida/Arkansas winner and create BCS symmetry.
Taking LSU would avoid a Notre
Dame-Michigan rematch that
"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 vote.
This year could be different.
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, that would.
Hindsight in 2006
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 in
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
The Rose Bowl also got ho-hum
Five things you need to know about the BCS process before Sunday's final standings release:
1: If the Rose Bowl loses
2: The at-large selection order
after the Rose Bowl is Sugar,
The Big East champion is not
"anchored" to any bowl but must be taken by the Rose, Fiesta,
In 2004, remember,
4: No. 7
5: The Rose Bowl could select No. 8
Boise State, the only undefeated other than
• 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.
See if you detect a trend in the legend-following business.
With its next hire of the