Nothing ever stays the same in college football nowadays and it isn't just conference realignment (if you cringed when you read those words, you are not alone). Playoffs, TV contracts, NCAA rules and pretty much everything else continue to change, but that's not all. The bowls are changing too, and it might be with the Rose Bowl East.
The Big 12 and the Southeastern conferences have announced a deal that will pit their football regular-season champions against each other in a New Year's Day bowl game for five years beginning in 2014, positioning themselves for the expected switch to a four-team playoff.
The move will establish the equivalent of the Pac-12-versus-Big Ten Rose Bowl, minus nearly a century of tradition. Those two conferences have pushed for a new format preserving that matchup for the Rose Bowl, which Slive has indicated he doesn't favor.
Okay, so it's not the Rose Bowl because of the century of tradition, the picturesque setting, the perfect weather or any of the many things that make the Rose Bowl the Rose Bowl, but from a football standpoint, it will be close (we're going to call them the Rose Bowls, mainly for convenience).
With the Rose Bowl featuring the Pac-12 and Big 10 champions and the SEC and Big 12 champions squaring off in their own bowl game, the ACC, Big East and everyone else are out in the cold. Now, this looks meant to supplement a four-team playoff, with each conference's runner up playing in the Rose Bowls if their conference champion is in the playoff. So maybe the non-Pac-12, Big 10, SEC and Big 12 teams aren't completely left out because they can end up in the playoffs, but's be honest -- this is a game changer.
If the playoff exists completely outside of the bowl system, guess which bowls are getting the most money? The two Rose Bowls. Which two bowl games will have the spotlight every New Years' Day? The two Rose Bowls. Most importantly, which bowl games puts four conferences above the rest in the battle for playoff spots? The two Rose Bowls.
Don't overlook that last part. The Rose Bowls will be part of the postseason and shouldn't impact the regular selection or race for a playoff spot, but what should and shouldn't happen doesn't matter. The prestige that will come from being in the Pac-12, Big 10, SEC or Big 12, which comes from having these Rose Bowls, will give the teams an added boost in the eyes of the pollsters, selection committee or whoever is picking the four teams.
Of course, the Rose Bowls can become the playoff. Toss fairness aside because that is clearly nowhere near the top of the list in college football. Why not make the Rose Bowls the semifinals of a four-team playoff and have the winners play in the national title game? Then the four conference title games become the de facto quarterfinals and boom, eight-team playoff.
The ACC, Big East and other teams will complain that they don't have a shot at a national title, but outside of those conferences, will anyone care? That's not exactly nice, but are those other teams really that relevant? They're not in the BCS.
It could also lead to further conference expansion, with the Pac-12, Big 10, SEC and Big 12 all going to 16 teams, creating a 64-team NCAA Division I in four conferences, a de facto eight-team playoff and most importantly, an avenue for all involved teams to win the national title without needing help from the system. Win all of your games an you win the national title, simple as that.
We still need to see what these brilliant presidents, commissioners and whoever else want to do about the playoff. Whatever they do, it certainly changed a lot now that they have a second Rose Bowl.