Ponder Point: Is It Time to Take Back the Rose Bowl?

Jon Joseph Editorials 26 Comments

Once again, the B1G and the Pac-12 have moved in lock-step. This time in the two conferences’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both the B1G and Pac-12 powers-that-be made the very difficult decision to take a big (no pun intended) financial hit in order to err, if they err at all, on the side of their student-athletes’ safety. No fall ball or fall sports of any kind for the two conferences. The adults in charge determined that their student-athletes were not going to be canaries in a COVID coal mine. In my opinion, the two conferences with the greatest number of prestigious academic institutions, 13 in the B1G and 9 in the Pac-12 (the ACC comes in 3rd with 5), made the only reasonable and responsible decision that they could make.

Yes, the decision could have been delayed. And yes, the B1G’s PR efforts in explaining the decision were dismal; nevertheless, the correct decision was made.

Compare the BIG and Pac-12’s decision with that of the University of North Carolina. UNC, due to the number of students who returned to school testing positive, has sent the student body off campus and back home. Yet, UNC still proposes to play football in the fall? Apparently, two decades of academic fraud was not enough embarrassment for the folks at UNC. Tell me this isn’t a mockery of the term STUDENT-athlete?

Tom Corno

In college football, this is hallowed ground … meant for two conferences only!

Come the 2025/26 season, the College Football Playoff, brought to you not by the NCAA, but by Dr. Pepper and ESPN, comes to a close.

Will it be time, come 2026, for the B1G and Pac-12 to tell the Good Doctor and ESPN to take a hike? To take back the Rose Bowl? To return to the days when The Run For The Roses was the reward for a conference champion, instead of a ticket to the Peach Bowl?

Does it make any sense to compete against institutions that place money and football ahead of academics and their students’ health?

I say, Yes! What say you?

Jon Joseph
Aiken, South Carolina
Top Photo by Tom Corno

Readers….if you have a “Ponder-Point” to start a day’s discussion with….send the topic, two paragraphs with your opinion on it to charles@fishduck.com and we will place it in one of the “open”  three days (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) each week we have on the schedule.  This way the community has something to ponder and discuss every day!  Charles Fischer

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I have argued for a while for an actual playoff system, one that prioritizes on the field results over the popularity contest to which we are currently subjected.

A system that awards spots to conference champions would only require 1 round of games to implement and would project 2 viable paths for each Big5 FBS team to reach the championship as well as a path for a group of 5 team(which is 1 more path than they currently have).

How it should work:

5 Conference championship games supplemented with 3 wild card games to be seeded with the 5 highest ranked teams not participating in a Conference championship along with the highest ranked group of five team. Those 3 wild card games will be played championship week. The winners of those 8 games will make up the first round of the playoff. Proceed with single elimination tournament.

This scenario would give you 16 teams who would have a shot at the National Championship Game while only adding a single round to the actual tournament. It would also ensure that the teams in the tournament all had played the same number of games(I’m looking directly at you 2017 Alabama). Wining your division becomes the most straight forward path for a team to get to the tournament. Additionally you have the flexibility to schedule tough OOC games to impress the selection committee should you not be able to win your division and need to secure a wild card bid, as an OOC loss does not impede your division path.

Since it’s single elimination, seeding does not really matter, so you could also incorporate the traditional Bowl game rivalries into the first 2 rounds with the Rose hosting the PAC12/B1G, the Sugar SEC/Big 12, Orange ACC/ Wild Card winner, and the Cotton the other 2 Wild Card winners. The Fiesta could host the Rose bowl and Cotton bowl winners, while the Peach Bowl would get the Sugar and Orange bowl winners. Finally the winners of those games are your National Championship game contestants.


To answer the question posed at the end of this article “Does it make any sense to compete against institutions that place money and football ahead of academics and their students’ health?”…that is a false choice because that is not why some conferences are playing football and others, specifically the Pac-12 and Big-10.

I’m linking the data reported so people can go look for themselves but the synopsis is this:

In 2017 deaths and for the ages of 20-24 a total of 125 people died from influenza. Yes that includes the entire year but it also is only including about half of the population group the is included in the COVID-19 numbers since it is parsing the age grouping 5 years instead of 10. Also, the reason I cited 2017 data is because I didn’t find anything more recent yet on the CDC site but if you happen to find more recent data, please link it.

Between 1 Feb and 30 June, the total deaths due to COVID-19 in the US for ages 15-24 which is the age where most college athletes fall was 121.

The reason the Big-10 and the Pac-12 aren’t playing fall sports is because of the “List of Demands” and not COVID-19. It isn’t because the leadership of the these two conferences are virtuous and noble whereas the ACC, SEC, and Big-12 are evil and greedy. In truth, its about the $$$ for all of these conferences. Unfortunately for the fans, the “greed” of the Pac-12 and Big-10 manifests itself differently because these conferences are not spending money the players demanded and they are also setting the precedent that any futher list of demands will result in more cancelled athletic seasons going forward.

Steven A

I have Keith Jackson’s proxy …..HELL YES!!!


Tangentially, the new stadium in Las Vegas creates a perfect opportunity for the PAC12 to promote the Vegas Bowl as a premier bowl. It’s also an opportunity to promote an elite pre-season game.

Jon…I agree with the spirit of your thoughts, but would take it a different direction. I want an eight team playoff and whatever the Pac-12 and B1G are ranked does not matter; they play their playoff game in the Rose Bowl!

Jon Sousa

How will “taking back the Rose Bowl” affect recruiting if top recruits only have their eyes on a National Championship Ring?

How are we going to recruit 4 and 5 stars when the goal is just playing in the Rose Bowl because “back in the day the Rose Bowl was fun”?

I have stated more than once that our goals should be win the PAC-12 and win the Rose Bowl. If we do that on a consistent basis we will see ourselves in the playoffs often enough. When I have stated this in the last couple of years, the obvious majority opinion has been, “No, it’s Playoffs and Nattys or Bust”… as if nothing else matters.

If “Playoffs or Bust” is the attitude of most fans, do you think elite athletes are going to want anything less?

Instead of either/or, we need both/and. If I remember correctly, in the BCS era, at least for a while, as the Natty was passed from major bowl to major bowl, they would play two of those bowls that year. If the Natty was at the Orange Bowl, the traditional Orange Bowl would be played and then two weeks later (one week?) the Natty would be played in the same venue, calling it “The National Championship Game in the Orange Bowl”. I believe this was done for the MONEY.

So why can’t we have the Rose Bowl on January 1 and have the playoff bowl in the same place a different day? It only takes about three days turn around to totally change out the look on the field. The playoff game can be played a week before January 1.


Thanks for the morning read, Jon.

I’d much rather have a playoff than a random assignment of bowl games. But it does need to be expanded. As mentioned, the dollar is boss, and as long as the playoff generates lots of those dollars…it will continue. By the way, I hate the ranking system…by coaches, administrators, or sports writers…none of whom could possibly, carefully watch ALL games. So your idea of conference champions in a playoff is a good one.

Also, as a point of reference. In the 6 month period of November – April 2017/2018, there were up to 7,000 deaths of U.S. citizens aged 18-49…to the seasonal flu. In the 6 month period from March-August this year, roughly 100 people under the age of 25 have died from COVID-19. (The last count I saw was 98.) Hospitalizations also follow with similar percentages.

So you’re right. No one knows the long term consequences of this China virus infection. But it certainly isn’t looking as dangerous to young people (by far) as the seasonal flu. We’ll see.


Jon, in trying to answer your question about brining back the Rose Bowl, my thoughts turned to those of asking what are the long term plans of the college football conferences and schools.

In the long run does college football wants to create more parity between the conferences and create a more cohesive, inclusive program where all conferences and schools are treated equal or do they want to continue on with the “every man for himself” attitude that got us to this point in the first place ??

My second concern is, are some of the Pac-12 schools going to jump conference when the opportunity presents itself ?? If Oregon, USC, and Washington leave the Pac-12, taking it down from being a “Power conference” would it make any sense to “take back the Rose Bowl” ??

Right now, today, my opinion is that college football will continue to be “every man for himself” spurred on by ESPN and the other TV company’s to “divide and conquer” college sports. For this situation I would think, yes we should take back the Rose Bowl and think about our own preservation.

However if some of the more competitive schools leave the Pac-12 and the conference is reduced to dust then keeping the Rose Bowl where it is might be the better plan.


To me, conference champions should always receive an automatic berth into a CFB playoff. The current path to a National Championship rewards teams that avoid marquee out of conference games that fans would love to see.

Without changes to the current system, take back the Rose Bowl.


I totally agree, Drake. If, as in true NCAA playoffs, conference champions were automatic qualifiers, teams at institutions would be freed up to schedule potentially difficult OOC games to raise the level of competition and potentially improve their teams, as well as providing their fans with a higher level of games, without it basically prohibiting them from making playoffs as conference champions because of an OOC loss(es).

Mike West

So the year Pitt was 8-4 they deserved a shot at a title?

Excuse me for saying this, but the waste of time watching Pitt get annihilated isn’t justifiable. Same for Memphis, same for Central Florida. Earning a conference title means you beat a group of sleet teams, no matter how BAD those teams were.

Thats not my idea of qualifying for a title. THE BEST. That’s what I want to see. Not some fill in. It’s almost like assaying a the best grade school team should play in the junior high tournament.


Yes, it was right to s take the hit where it came to Fall sports, and yes, GET THE ROSE BOWL BACK!!!
WE can remember when it was, “The Granddaddy of Them All”, now it’s more like the guy your mom kinda knows, and you call him, “Uncle”.

Football was just more fun back in the day. Instead of winning your conference just being a box to check, and with a Conference Championship Game, even that is diminished, it used to be everything a player, coach, team & fans, dreamed about!

Now, the Rose Bowl is part of the farce laughingly referred to as, The College Football Playoffs. It is not a playoff. It is an Invitational, and 3.4 of the tickets are punched by Thanksgiving. But what about, The Committee?


Our own, Rob Mullens chaired the selection committee for a couple of years. All it got him was some facetime with Rece Davis where he would come out and spend 10 minutes revealing absolutely nothing about the deliberations he and the other members were taking to come up with the 4 best teams, (money could buy).

We thought it was bad back when, DeAnthony Thomas & Josh Huff scoffed at the idea of playing in the Rose Bowl…and it’s only gotten worse since then.


You raise an interesting point 30Duck. Rob Mullens time as chair of the selection committee did not help Oregon or the Pac-12 in any way. All it did was placate the Pac-12 into believing they actually had something to say about things. Rob’s good buddy on the committee convinced him that the Pac-12 should continue on with playing a 9 game season while the SEC gets away with only playing 8.


Chip liked playing neutral field games in Texas thinking he would recruit some Texas players. Not sure how well that worked out for him.

H&H with Texas Tech was about the only good thing I see with Robs time on the selection committee.

Santa Rosa Duck

Jon, conceptually I agree with you. Though the years all I wished for was the Rose Bowl. The problem is the actual facility itself. Too big, too far from the field, tired infrastructure, limited parking. I do not enjoy actually going there and with the finances of the State of California being upside down, there is no fix in sight.

Now, how do you define prestigious universities? Who are the nine in the PAC 12?


As WE have ALL known for years , It’s not about the STUDENT/ athlete it’s about $$$$/ATHLETE ! I’m a very HARD core duck 50 plus years , and I’m gonna be sick to my stomach NOT being in my seat Sept. 5th , but it won’t be because a young man gets sick and dies , just so I can watch him play !