Say goodbye to the "traditional" Rose Bowl: Penn State beats Utah as the historic game enters a new era

Say goodbye to the “traditional” Rose Bowl: Penn State beats Utah as the historic game enters a new era

Pasadena, Calif. – Eventually, the skies opened up and it rained at the Rose Bowl. Some might say she cried.

Just don’t try to sell that to the smiling, dancing, happy Nittany Lions (Valley) who practically float off the field at the end of the program’s first Rose Bowl win in 27 years. (She is only the second ever).

“It means the world,” said freshman linebacker Dominic DeLuca, who is blessed to wear No. 34 for Franco Harris.

“I hope he’s smiling somewhere in there,” DeLuca added.

Elsewhere, outside the competitive confines of the sacred court, that meant closure. Not the kind you want to consider if mimicry and Keith Jackson are anything to go by.

No. 11 Penn State’s 35-21 win over No. 8 Utah marked the end of an era. This is the last time the traditional fighters will meet in the Rose Bowl for the foreseeable future. In fact, whether the Big Ten and the Pac-12 face each other again in Pasadena would be a matter of coincidence.

After the 2023 season, the Rose Bowl will serve as the semi-final of the college football playoffs. So just by chance a Big Ten and/or Pac-12 team will be playing in the game. For various reasons, starting with the first 12-team playoff appearance in 2024, the same conditions will apply.

“It just dawned on us…we’re playing each other in another ‘traditional Rose Bowl’,” Penn State athletic director Pat Kraft told CBS Sports. “For someone who grew up in the Midwest and in the Big Ten, that’s it. command. It really is Grandaddy. So, having this kind of moment is fantastical.”

However, his ending was clear: This was definitely not your great-grandfather’s.

Since the Rose Bowl reluctantly joined the BCS in 1998, it has been an uneasy relationship between tradition and evolution. Above all, Rose Bowl traditionalists have estimated the Pac-8/10/12 vs Big Ten game. For 54 consecutive years (1947-2000), conference champions have met here.

Then the BCS stepped in. To participate in it, the Rose Bowl, the Big Ten, and the Pac-12 all agreed to forfeit their exclusivity to be part of the first college football tournament to be decided on the field. Rose’s first shot in the BCS rotation came in 2002. Miami met Nebraska for the National Championship. People from both schools returned from Pasadena reporting that the welcome was less than cordial.

This was further demonstrated the following year when Oklahoma played Washington State in front of only 87,000 fans, less than 6,000 spectators. Since College Football kicked off in 2014, the Big Ten and Pac-12 champions have met only once (2020, Ohio State vs. Washington).

In the 16 years leading up to 2014, the Rose Bowl has held its traditional rival 10 times. This percentage will decrease significantly in the future.

The problem came to a head late last year when the Rose Bowl reluctantly agreed with the CFP to expanded 12-year playoff criteria in 2024. It has run out of clout in a sport that has become bigger than the first and oldest bowl. in the presence of.

The Rose Bowl had stood to be played on the traditional January 1st, 5th day p.m. ET, kick-off time. It was said no. Starting in 2026, it will be filled by any teams present in the system at any date and time the Center deems necessary.

“I don’t say this with insults, but we’re not the one with the guaranteed price,” Laura Farber, chair of the Tournament of Roses Management Committee, said before the game. “I had to look for where that bowl was. We’ll always be the Rose Bowl.”

You won’t get any argument from Nittany Lions. As a young administrator, Kraft—a former Indiana State quarterback—vowed he would only set foot in the Rose Bowl if the team he worked for was playing in it.

“No, it’s very special,” Kraft told CBS Sports. “You must earn it.”

In the most sacred of soils, Kraft got his wish. Regardless, at the turn of the century, the Mountain West’s Utah State or Big Ten quarterbacks Michigan and Ohio State—both of whom defeated Penn State—were knocked out of the CFP on Saturday.

But it was history with a side order of gloom. For the first time since 2017, the game hasn’t taken off in the sun.

Again, try telling Penn State it doesn’t mean anything. The Nittany Lions won the game for the first time since 1995. This was their fifth Rose Bowl appearance since 1923.

On the 100th anniversary of this appearance, Penn State quarterback Shaun Clifford reminisced about his first start on the West Coast in fourth or fifth grade. His father surprised him with a trip to a soccer camp.

“I just remember falling in love with football, specifically falling in love with the quarterback position,” Clifford said.

In the last game of his college career, Clifford was the Rose Bowl’s Most Valuable Offensive Player, throwing for 279 yards and two touchdowns.

There is a lifeblood of tradition. After the 2024 and 2025 seasons, if the Pac-12 and/or Big Ten champions are seeded in the top four and receive a bye, the highest ranking from those two seasons is guaranteed if the Rose Bowl is a quarterfinalist that year. If this were in place this season, Michigan would have played in Pasadena as the Big Ten champion against the winner from Ohio State and Kansas State.

“The Rose Bowl is an iconic symbol,” said CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock.

Monday was another reminder that he’s not exclusive.

By giving the Rose Bowl an ultimatum, CFP stakeholders solidified what the 12-team playoff game had become. The games themselves matter more than when and where they are played.

Farber was asked if the likes of Alabama and Cincinnati’s Rose Bowl playoffs would affect their great traditions?

“That’s a really great question,” she said. “You know we’re into the Alabama fight song? … Tradition is what you make of it. We need to evolve too. We need a balance of tradition and innovation.”

The rain couldn’t dampen the Penn State party. It heralded that new era where the sun might not shine on the Rose Bowl all the time, in traditional compatibility terms.

“I’m not trying to sound disingenuous or whatever,” said Farber. But we’re the grandfather of them all. “

Yes, but for how long?


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