Big Ten's expansion further damages Rose Bowl's status

Ralph D. Russo
Associated Press

Indianapolis — Playing in the Rose Bowl was the pinnacle of a college football career for those who coached and played in the Big Ten for decades.

The Rose Bowl's importance has been waning for years as college football's postseason evolved. The latest expansion by the Big Ten puts the future of the Pac-12, the conference's longtime Rose Bowl partner, in doubt and was another damaging blow to the Granddaddy of all the bowls.

"You have to adapt," former Wisconsin coach and athletic director Barry Alvarez said Tuesday at Big Ten media days in Lucas Oil Stadium. "When I got into the league, every kid that played in this league, your vision was play the Rose Bowl and win the Rose Bowl.

“It's not the same now. It's the CFP. It's get into the playoffs."

The future of the Rose Bowl as a showcase game, mostly featuring teams from Big Ten and Pac-12 on New Year's Day, was already murky as the College Football Playoff creeps toward what seems like an inevitable expansion from the current four-team format.

“The Rose Bowl will always be an important part of the Big Ten,” said Alvarez, who now works for the conference as a special advisor to Commissioner Kevin Warren.

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren talks to reporters during an NCAA college football news conference at the Big Ten Conference media days, at Lucas Oil Stadium, Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in Indianapolis.

Now that the Big Ten has poached Southern California and UCLA from the Pac-12, it remains to be seen if the West Coast's Power Five conference will still be an important part of the Rose Bowl.

“I focus on the Big Ten,” Alvarez said. “When we went through expansion (in the early 2010s) I was really happy that we were able to add my alma mater, Nebraska, into our league. I knew Nebraska in the Big Eight. There is no Big Eight. So things change. You have to go with the flow."

Warren said playoff talks with the other FBS commissioners will pick up again in September. Warren maintains he is a staunch advocate of expansion, but he was among a group of newer commissioners who stood in the way of early implementation of a 12-team format.

Alvarez said he is not sure what the best number should be for a playoff, but eight, 12 and 16 would all be intriguing, depending on the details of the format.

He also said the Big Ten should be open to considering expanding its own postseason when the league grows to 16 teams with USC and UCLA.

Maybe a four-team Big Ten tournament instead of just a championship game?

“That's something you're going to have to take a look at,” Alvarez said.