The Rose Bowl: New Rules and Why They Might Impact Stanford

 The reason why there has already been discussion about the Rose Bowl (taking place in January 2011) is that the likely Pac-10 Champion, Oregon, may ultimately play in the National Championship Game.  If this happens, then the question becomes:  who plays in the Rose Bowl game in Oregon’s place?  Under normal circumstances if the Rose Bowl were to lose the Pac-10 Champion to the National Championship Game, it would have the opportunity to select a replacement team from among the automatic-qualifying teams and the at-large teams before any other selections are made.  This means the Rose Bowl could choose Stanford if that’s who it wanted.  However, for the first time since the BCS was formed in 1998, the Rose Bowl has agreed to take the highest ranked BCS-eligible champion from a “non-automatic qualifier” conference if it loses one of its contracted teams. 

 Why would the Rose Bowl agree to this?  To keep the peace.  Because of its Pac-10/Big Ten contract, the Rose Bowl game by default is filled with a team from each of those automatic-qualifying conferences.  And in the event it loses one of them, because the Rose Bowl gets to choose the replacement ahead of all of the other bowls, it has never had to take a school from a non-automatic-qualifying conference.  And before anyone cries foul, the reason it does this is not snobbery or to exclude a non-AQ team, but rather because the Granddaddy of them all believes in keeping the tradition of the Pac-10/Big Ten game alive and if given the choice will always pick a replacement team from the conference it lost.  In fact, in 2004 another rule forced the Rose Bowl to take Texas over California, which caused a complete uproar and contributed to the ultimate withdrawal of the Associated Press poll from the BCS standings formula.  Luckily the Rose Bowl only has to do this once in the next four-year cycle.  And therefore, the way it is playing out, Stanford will not have an opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl unless a) Oregon loses twice or b) a non-AQ school plays for the National Title game and therefore exempts the Rose Bowl from having to choose the highest remaining non-AQ team (which could definitely happen).