Flowers Die

By Johnny Ginter on April 9, 2012 at 1:58p
The greatest football game ever played

The first Rose Bowl I ever remember watching was the 1997 matchup between Ohio State and Arizona State. I was 11, and aside from wanting OSU to win, my only real emotional investment in the game was that I had chosen not to bet my dad FIVE AMERICAN DOLLARS that the Buckeyes would eventually pull it out in the end.

My anger of losing out on the five dollars (equivalent to 3 comic books in the ancient bartering system of nerdy little kids) was outweighed by my joy at watching Joe Germaine go "eennnhh!" and huck a Denver fireball to a pre(?)steroids David Boston for a last minute TD that showed me that sometimes good really does triumph over evil. Also it showed me that Brent Musburger gets really salty when his bet against the spread gets messed with.

In either case, something that unfortunately escaped my prepubescent brain were two things that would've undoubtedly enhanced my overall enjoyment of one of the greatest bowl games of all time: majesty and grandeur.

The words majesty and grandeur actually mean pretty much the same thing, but that's only according to young people who don't realize that when something has been around forever, that means that it's awesome and should never be changed. The Masters at Augusta, the Egg Roll on the White House lawn, Jim Crow laws; why can't people simply see that the things that define us are the things that we would rather allow to rot and fester than change, even a tiny bit?

And unfortunately, in all of the talk of moving college football toward a plus one format or a 4 team playoff or an 8 team playoff, no one is really coming forward and saying what needs to be said: University of Georgia President Michael Adams and his ilk are a breath away from completely destroying the incomparable majesty and, yes, unparalleled grandeur that is college football's greatest game, the annual Rose Bowl that takes place in beautiful Pasadena California.

Michael Adams has for years advocated for a playoff in college football, an odious system that will take determining a national championship out of the rightful hands of giant super-computers (capable of literally hundreds of complex calculations per second) and human sports experts such as AP college football voters Jason Whitlock and Craig James. But more than that, Adams doesn't seem to understand that more is at stake here than denying the most intelligent and insightful football minds input on the champion selection process. There's dignity at risk.

But let's rewind a bit. Last week the powers that be in the BCS came up with four alternative options to the nearly perfect system that we have in place as of now (seriously folks, if the purpose of a championship is the decide the best team, then they do that every year. The winner of the BCS championship game is the best team. How is that hard?). They ranged from horrible to terrible; one would add a "plus one" game (don't we know who the best two teams are already?), another that would keep the current format but basically get rid of automatic bids (really? You want to allow the unwashed CFB masses into OUR championship game?), and still another that would create a 4 team playoff (complete waste of time and would make it difficult for our student-athletes to prepare for their rigorous final exams).

There was, however, one proposal that made sense to me.

4. Four Teams Plus. The four highest-ranked teams meet in two games except that the Big Ten and Pac-12 champions will always play in the Rose Bowl. If the Big Ten champion, the Pac12 champion, or both are in the top four, that team (or those two teams) would play in the Rose Bowl and the other two games would be filled by the other four highest-ranked teams. Select two teams for the championship game after those three games have been played.

Rose Bowl über alles, as it should be. I'm glad to see that some BCS officials have the wherewithal to understand the gravity of what change to the BCS system would do to the most venerated and important of all Bowls. Not Adams, however. Instead of kowtowing to what is clearly the greatest tradition in the long history of civilization, he foolishly cast his lot with the barbarians and heretics of his beloved Southeastern Conference.

The look of a madman

“This is not 1950, or 1960,” Adams said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, after waking up from his daily Absinthe induced stupor. “There are great schools in the [Atlantic Coast Conference] and the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12. I think it’s time to put everybody on an equal footing. I just reject the notion that the Big Ten and the Pac-12 ought to be treated differently in this process. Also if you see my dog, tell him this is from me.” He then handed us a syringe full of morphine and a fully loaded .22 revolver.

I may have edited that quote somewhat, but the overall point is that Adams clearly doesn't understand the Rose Bowl or college football in general. Some facts:

  • Almost 70% of Rose Bowl games have featured matchups between the Big Ten and the Pac-10. Er, 12. Well, okay I guess both conferences have 12 members now. Also we might as well retroactively count Nebraska's appearances toward the Big Ten.
  • Average margin of victory since 2000? Slightly over 12 points. That's quality, folks.
  • USC, probably the most popular and beloved college football program in history, has won the Rose Bowl a record 24 times. Which is of course good news for anyone who loves positive, exciting winners like Lane Kiffin.

In other words, Big Ten and Pac-12 football traditions are the shining city on the hill to the rest of the assorted rabble of college football, excluding teams that might be added though conference expansion, and also teams that no longer play FBS football but have important sounding names. They too add to the majesty that is an incredibly important game with occasional implications beyond the confines of a generally near-capacity stadium.

It's unfortunate that Michael Adams doesn't understand this. Sure, he graduated from Ohio State at the height of Woody Hayes' tenure, and yes, his playoff plan does diminish the power of his own conference while enhancing the ability of other conferences like the Big Ten and the Pac-12 to play for national championships. But at what cost do we sacrifice a 98 year tradition that kind of adheres to the lofty legends and customs we've given to it? Do national championships really mean more than an optional game that is already bypassed in the event of a national championship? Do you not want to see the mighty Trojans of USC once more stomp upon an overmatched Big Ten team? Wouldn't it be amazing if Texas joined the Big Ten so we could pretend the 2006 Rose Bowl took place between a Big Ten and Pac-12 team?

At least one person is fighting the good fight. To wit:

“Do we have the right to impose (the Rose Bowl tradition) on others? No,” said University of Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman, who said he was speaking for himself and not the Big Ten. “But you have to understand that any process for determining a national champion has to have the concurrence of those conferences who are likely to have teams that are competing for the national championship. And without the Big Ten and Pac-12 you couldn’t run a national championship..."

That's right, college football world. If you want a playoff or plus one system without acknowledging the supremacy of the Rose Bowl, you can go to hell. Here in the Big Ten and Pac-12, we understand football, far better than your nouveau riche sensibilities from the SEC can comprehend. And you'll know it, too.

Just as soon as we figure out how to beat you guys on the field.


Comments Show All Comments

DallasTheologian's picture

How does a playoff system take determining a national champion out of the hands of the computers and the voters? Wouldn't the top teams that get to play in the "playoff" still be determined by the computers and the voters?

Johnny Ginter's picture

sure, but computers and voters wouldnt directly be placing teams in an NC game like now

DallasTheologian's picture

I know but try telling that to #5 if it is a 4 team playoff, or #9 if 8, or #17 if 16 etc. 


Cries of "The computers and voters screwed us over" will never die.

BucksfanXC's picture

Well the fact that someone will always be left out, be it #5 or #17, means we should continue to leave out #3 under the current system?

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

Seabass1974's picture

The cries won't die but they would be dimished significantly.

The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender. - Woody Hayes

BucksfanXC's picture

Great article. Johnny is my favorite

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

BoFuquel's picture


I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

cronimi's picture

I was a supporter of a 4 (or more)-team playoff, Johnny, but your modest proposal has forced me to reconsider my viewpoint. Rose Bowl über alles, indeed.

DefendOhio's picture

Where was today's Skull Session?

Johnny Ginter's picture

drupal fart, sorry about that

Squirrel Master's picture

the skull session was discussed over on the right under forum topics. You might read some very interesting stuff over there that doesn't make it to the skullys all the time.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

Phoenix824's picture

Don't let Delany see this he may not get the sarcasm

pcon258's picture

i wish i could make a comment about the article, but my whole day's routine has been thrown off and i havent been able to think straight all day. i need the monday morning hive to start my day properly

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Has it been confirmed that the "Four Teams Plus" proposal was hatched by the B1G/Delany and/or P12? If I were being conspiratorial, I might wonder if it was put forward by the SEC, which does not want to play the semi-final games at the home stadiums of the two highest rated teams - which is the best proposal. 

Maybe Delany said "take it or leave it" on the home stadium model and the SEC stubbornly resisted, So, either: A). Delany said, "Hey, we're not dropping the Rose Bowl without the home field games, but we're also not going to be made to look like the intractable party here; so, we'll put out another sort of 'red herring' proposal just to indicate our flexibility; B). The SEC hatched the "Four Teams Plus" concept to embarrass the B1G.

I know, Occam's Razor says Delany/B1G just being their normal crazy selves, but just wanted confirmation.  

Johnny Ginter's picture

i don't think it really matters either way, the bigger issue is the B1G and the pac-12 holding a plus one/playoff hostage so that a game that lost its relevance a looonnnggg time ago can continue to be a special little snowflake in the eyes of crazy people

Run_Fido_Run's picture

But what if the SEC is holding the plus-one hostage because it won't accept the proposal to play semi-final games at the home stadia of the two highest rated teams? Then, it would be the SEC that's fixated on the "little snowflakes" that might fall from the skies when LSU is trying to win Ohio Stadium in mid December . . .

Johnny Ginter's picture

lol remember this picture?

sir rickithda3rd's picture

Sorry i gotta disagree. There absolutely has to be a playoff. Its the only right way to declare a champion. A champion has to be decided on the field. 

mark may wins douchebag of the year... again

Johnny Ginter's picture

haha yessssss

the polesposition's picture

You will never be able to accurately determine a champion of 120 some teams by conducting a playoff that let's a small subset participate--too few teams will have played each other to have accurate information.  Every fan that pounds the "settle on the field" drum fails to realize that all the winner of a playoff tournament will ever be is that--the winner of a tournament.  Does anyone really think the Giants were better than the Patriots the when they played in the Super Bowl the first time simply because the Giants played better than the Pats for one quarter in February?  Fiction my friend, under this system or any other with 120 teams.

Johnny Ginter's picture

the "best team" is a completely subjective measure in any system, so why not use the system that comes up with an overall winner on the field, instead of between the ears of idiots like whitlock and james? who cares if the "best" team doesn't win? was OSU the "best" team when they beat miami? hell no, but that's why that game was so awesome

the polesposition's picture

I see the question as a different one--why not make a decision based on all 13-14 games rather than placing the heaviest weight on the last ones (heavily dependent on matchup, who's healthiest, where game is played, etc)?  To me, it is far less subjective when it is based on a larger body of work.  Why are you so certain OSU wasn't better than Miami?  Just curious, since they were 13-0 before that game than beat them?  At any rate, even if you are right, I have no problem with it,  because they clearly deserved to be there. 

joel121270's picture

A little late here, but I think the '98 team would of definitely benefited from a playoff. I don't care what anyone says they were the best team in the country that season and Tennessee won it by default when they got the powerful  FSU team. I want to scream everytime I see the Vols won that year.

SaintTressel's picture

Polesposition, you are fighting the good fight. I just don't think its obvious that a tournament is better. With a tournament we are as likely to get an unsatisfying Butler vs Uconn matchup as we are to get Kentucky vs Kansas (and we were better than Kansas anway, right?).  At the very least, with the BCS you have a 99.9% chance of having two of the three teams with the best 12 or 13 game season playing for the championship.


Ethos's picture

This article is so sarcastic, I don't know which side you are defending.  I hate Monday's :(

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

Johnny Ginter's picture

basically just go ahead and assume i really mean the opposite of everything i said in this post

Ethos's picture

but mussberger does get salty when Ohio State wins, in fact I think he cuts himself every time he hosts a game and they win.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

Johnny Ginter's picture

okay, not EVERYthing, just the stuff about the BCS and a playoff

Hoody Wayes's picture

All this talk is superfluous, if the polls/computers are upheld as parts of the equation.

What college football needs is, either, a new divison comprised of the powerhouses (i.e. Ohio State, Michigan, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas, USC, Alabama, etc.) or further realignment, from which the conference champs go to the playoffs/elite bowls and the runners-up play in what is now, the non-BCS bowls.

No team can truly be the champ, when the press and programmers have a vote - any kind of vote. Do it on the field. 

Doc's picture

Do it like American Idol does.  Have America vote on it via some @BCSChamp.crap site and then live with it.  It won't be the best team, but it ain't that way now either.  I personally like the 8 team playoff with the highest ranking team playing at home.  Round two could then be one of the four BCS bowls and a week later the championship game.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

William's picture

This sounds like an awful idea. Billy Sue and Bubba would both run up $4,000 phone bills to text in as many votes possible for 'Bama, LSU,or UF.

Buckeyeneer's picture

Dammit Johnny. I had to read the entire thing twice to figure out what the hell you were talking about. My emotions went something like this:

1. Happy - to see a new article up on 11W.

2. Confusion - in that I was disagreeing with everything you were writing.

3. Anger - that someone wrote such a terrible article and I wasted time reading it.

4. Back to Confusion - as I thought, "this can't be right." and began reading it again.

5. Happy - in realize that you are yanking our collective chain.

And finally

6. Smugness - that OSU bloggers are so clever and that I am in on the joke.

Keep up the good work!

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

Poison nuts's picture

See above for my exact response to this article.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Johnny Ginter's picture


Poison nuts's picture


"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Bucksfan's picture

Look, going to the 2010 Rose Bowl game was one of the highlights of my relatively young life.  It took the shape of a perfect weekend beyond anything I could have ever planned out.  We saw L.A. when there is absolutely no traffic in the city due to the holiday.  The weather was perfect.  I ran into old college friends at the parade after finding ourselves at the exact same intersection along the route.  We found a parking spot on a residential street 2 blocks from the parade.  We drank beer in the beer gardens while cheering on the Big Ten in the morning bowls.  The mountains ignited at sundown.  We went back the next day when no one was on the grounds and took pictures.  And, Ohio State beat Oregon.

Oregon fans were crushed, and I didn't understand why.  I did not go to the Rose Bowl with the intention of pinning the outcome of the trip on Ohio State's performance.  It's exactly like you say, one of the revered traditions in all of American sports.  The Rose Bowl is as American as apple pie and ice cream, and route-66 (hell, Pasadena is the endpoint of route-66!).  It's older than the Masters and the Indianapolis 500.  It is surpassed only by the World Series, the U.S. Open, and some horse races.

To me, it wasn't an event that you go to where the outcome means a whole lot.  You go to see the elaborate floats, and be on those grounds.  You go to hang out with old friends, and shout O-H in a foreign land.  You get to go to see the coveted jewel that spurred Woody Hayes to take the Michigan rivalry to new heights.

But the game itself is meaningless, as is its outcome.  You can't even compare it as a SPORTING EVENT to the U.S. Open, or the Indy 500, or the Kentucky Derby.  In those events, you have all the best competitors in one place to decide who the best is in that year.  A Champion.  Being the Rose Bowl champ?  Doesn't mean a damn thing, sadly.  It is an exhibition.  It's remarkably beautiful, but it is just an exhibition.

A playoff needs to happen.  And if that means sacrificing the Rose Bowl and making those fat cat bowl people even richer, so be it.  This is about competitiveness and deciding who the best is.  Giving the Big 10 and Pac 12 a 3rd semi-final game so Pasadena can have a parade is not acceptable in today's era.

RBuck's picture

Have to agree with you. I've been to 2 Rose Bowls and they were the best vacations we ever had...and, it's a day trip to Vegas.

Long live the southend.

the polesposition's picture

I want someone to explain to me how a playoff crowns a true champion?  Let's say we have a four teamer (and for now, ignore that # 5 will be unhappy, that you still have to use polls to get the top four) and let's say for one hypothetical year, it's pretty easy to agree there are exactly four undefeated teams and pretty much everyone agrees these are the four teams.  How do you seed these teams?  This is critical in that football is so much a game of x's and o's type matchups.  If one beats four, how do we know they would have beat three?  What if they never played 3 at any point during the regular season, can you really say 1 was better than 3?  Aren't your really seeding the four teams based on your perception of how these teams did mostly against OTHER teams, often teams that aren't common opponents?  It's a myth, and it's why I get annoyed when people say "settle it on the field," as if a playoff system isn't using a list of arbitrary factors (arbitrary in that strictly head to head matchups aren't always available) to determine: a) who gets in; and  b) the seeding of the teams?

So for this, I'm going to chuck the bowl system and all it's traditions (or at least seriously alter them) so I can have two football leagues that use the same flawed system?

Bucksfan's picture

It has nothing to do with crowning a so-called TRUE champion.  It's about crowning a FAIR champion.  Maybe that's just a bout of rhetoric that needs to be clarified.  Look, I'll be the first to admit that the polls do, indeed, pick two of the best teams in the country  to play in the national championship.  Is it better than a 68 team playoff?  In the sense that it doesn't allow you to have a USC vs. Harvard matchup?  Yeah, I'll give you that.  Is it better than what we have in baseball or the NFL where a 0.500 team can get hot in the playoffs and win the World Series or Super Bowl from a wild card spot?  Yeah, probably.  Is it as fair as those playoffs?  Not in the least bit.

Why would it be more fair to have more teams in a college football national championship?  Because discerning the difference between two teams with equal records in a fair manner simply by using discourse is impossible.  The reason that I know this is because Alabama, who didn't win their conference championship, who didn't win their conference division, who beat 3 teams with winning records, was selected to replay their OWN conference champion, a team that beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa earlier in the year, over Oklahoma State, who beat 7 teams with winning records, won their division, won their conference to play in the national title game.  Forget about the bowl results.  Those are played 6-8 weeks after the regular season is over.  You don't know what's going to happen when you put Alabama and LSU on the field, but you already saw it.  You don't know what's going to happen when you put LSU and OK State on the field either.  You might think you know, but you don't.  No one does.  It was not fair to select Alabama if you only had to select 1 team.

That is just one example.  Anyone who knows BCS history knows it isn't without controversy over who should be in that game.  Last year was the straw that broke the camel's back for me, and for a lot of people.  If you don't put major conference championships in a room to duke it out, then you have a non-competitive system.  Going 11-1 in the Big 10 doesn't get you anywhere because a consensus of loudmouths decided the Big 10 isn't as good as everyone else.  Those USC teams in the 2000's got 2 chances at the national title, and went 1-1.  Why weren't they in the title games in other years when they tied?  Well, it's usually because they lost the "wrong game" at the "wrong time" by some loudmouths' criteria.  They still had equal records as the national title teams in at least 3 of those years.

So, it's not about a TRUE champion.  It's about a FAIR champion.  It's about taking the best team from a region and pitting them against champions from other regions to prove who the best team IN THE COUNTRY is.


cplunk's picture

And that why it has to- has to- be limited to conference champions only. It is unfair to place teams thought to be better in a playoff over those that beat everyone in their region over thirteen or so games.

Menexenus's picture

I agree: if it's only 4 teams, it should just be the top 4 conference champions. 

If it is 8 teams, then you have a little more room.  Then I'd say top 6 conference champions plus 2 highest ranked non-champions.  (That throws independents like Notre Dame and BYU a bone.)

Real fans stay for Carmen.

Maestro's picture

Is that Lou Dobbs?

vacuuming sucks

onetwentyeight's picture

I wanted to stand up and applaud after reading this. 

btalbert25's picture

The rosebowl won't cease to exist though, even if it's not included in the plus one system.  It may just have to take on lesser teams, which it has done in the past.  I mean c'mon, Illinois played in the game a couple of years ago. They will still have the parade, the weather will still be nice, and it'll be in Pasdena, and there will still be a meaningless game.

I don't like the idea of rewarding the "best team" either.  As long as the best team gets a crack at the title that's all I care about.  I agree with Johnny where he says Ohio State certainly wasn't the best team back when the beat the Canes.  I'm not even sure they were the 2nd best team that year as USC was kicking some serious ass late in that season.  Ohio State got a shot and they succeeded.  Each year there are a handful of teams who have a shot.  Would Oklahoma State have been beat by LSU and Bama last year?  Probably, but we don't know for sure.


headina's picture

"You can cut a snake's head off but it continues to live!"

Bucks 20 sundevils 17

Brent musburger 0


ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

Why not just do a conditional plus-one after all of the bowls are done?  Let everything play out.  If you have a clear and undisputed national champion, then you don't need a plus-one.  If at the end you still have questions as to who the real champs are (undefeated USC and undefeated Auburn in 2004), then you can have a plus-one to figure it out.  This would be determined by the voters, or some committee, as to whether this is necessary. 

2004 would have been a great year for this with USC, Oklahoma, and Auburn all undefeated, and Auburn being the one left out of the title game and winning the bowl game they did go to. 

Class of 2010.

the polesposition's picture

I found this solution on the internet and advocated for it.  This is probably the best system.  You won't see it because many think it's too complicated, but this is exactly the system that should be used.  The year OSU played Miami, we didn't need four teams in the mix.  Last year, we did.  I also think it would add an element of intrigue going down the season as we see, not just which teams are in the hunt, but which systems would be used.