The Daily Texan’s Phil Orchard explains why Michigan is unworthy of its Rose Bowl bid here.

Bob Hunt

Tucked deep inside a valley at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, the Rose Bowl is the best place to be in America on New Year’s Day. The gorgeous weather — which is almost as big of a tradition as the parade — and the ambiance make The Pasadena Tournament of Roses the best tradition in sports.

Growing up in Chicago and Los Angeles, I vividly remember watching the Rose Bowl on television each year with my family. People in the Midwest and West Coast view the event in a similar light, and many hope that someday they themselves will be able to watch their favorite team in Pasadena.

That is why I am so glad that the Cal Golden Bears have been invited to play in this year’s game. The Golden Bears haven’t played in the Rose Bowl since 1959. And while they’re not champions of the Pac-10, they’ve had a tremendous year, outplaying No. 1 Southern Cal. in its one regular-season blemish. Cal is clearly deserving of a California dream.

OK, maybe I’m in denial. Maybe I have to accept that Cal’s dream has died, and that Texas will be in the Rose Bowl instead. But I’m still not happy about it.

You people in Austin, Texas, may be thrilled that you are going to a BCS game. Good for you. The Longhorns did finish 10-1. Michigan can’t say that. But I know that any of the other corporate-whore BCS games would have sufficed.

I’m here to tell you just being happy about making a BCS game is not good enough. This is the Rose Bowl, a country club that you don’t belong to. You aren’t welcome, either. It’s a country club that doesn’t discriminate against race, sex or anything like that. But it doesn’t like outsiders crashing the party.

The Pac-10 and Big Ten conferences don’t just have tie-ins to the Rose Bowl, they OWN the Rose Bowl. The game is actually owned in a consortium with the two leagues. The reason it even joined the BCS in the first place was to give the two leagues a fair chance at the national title.

But for college football’s best game, it’s been nothing short of a disaster. Thanks to some complaining (No. 3 Kansas State was snubbed from the BCS in 1998, creating the provision forcing the Rose Bowl to pick Texas), some begging and some abuse of the system (I wonder who voted the Longhorns second in the final coaches poll?), the Longhorns are heading to Pasadena.

The people of the San Gabriel Valley are probably dreading the thought of seeing thousands of people with burnt orange shirts and cowboy hats walking around Old Town Pasadena. Let’s just say they won’t be ready to “Hook ‘em Horns” on New Year’s Day.

Assuming next year’s national championship game is not a Big 10-Pac-10 affair, we are in the middle of a five-year stretch where there will be just one traditional Rose Bowl matchup. Likewise, there’s one conference that has been most represented in the “Granddaddy of Them All” in my four years in Ann Arbor — The Big XII. Yuck! You can tell me all you want about how The Big XII is superior with its vaunted North Division champion Colorado, but its teams do not belong in the Rose Bowl.

As someone who covers football in the Big Ten, I don’t really know anything about Texas, nor do I care to learn. The closest I’ve ever been to the state of Texas was the afternoon I ended up in Norman, Okla. You heard of it?

Despite Texas’s inability to beat Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout every year, there’s something that boggles me even more about the Longhorns. How does Oklahoma mess with Texas every year in recruiting Lone Star State kids? Texas is supposed to be the better school, and Austin is supposed to be the better city. Adrian Peterson grew up a Texas fan, and finished second in this year’s Heisman race … as a Sooner freshman.

Well, I guess that’s OK. You know, Charles Woodson is from Ohio.

Texas does have this year’s Doak Walker Award winner, Cedric Benson. But this is the player who said publicly that he’d rather win the Heisman than beat Oklahoma. That worked out real well.

And Ricky Williams, he’s a troubled boy. Have you seen him?

It’s funny. If the Tournament of Roses Association didn’t decide to spruce up its festivities in 1902 with a football game, the bowl system may have never been created and Mack Brown would have the playoff he clamors so hard for. Instead, he’s poisoning the Rose Bowl.

 

Bob Hunt is a football writer and sports editor at The Michigan Daily. While he is upset, he says he won’t hold it against Texas fans. If you recognize him in Pasadena, he may even buy you beer. He can be reached at bobhunt@umich.edu.

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