If you're puckered that the approaching Rose Bowl pits Texas against Michigan — the lack of tradition, the unholy sound of it all — well, get used to it. Next year the Rose...

Share story


If you’re puckered that the approaching Rose Bowl pits Texas against Michigan — the lack of tradition, the unholy sound of it all — well, get used to it.


Next year the Rose Bowl stages the BCS championship game, which means it is no sure bet either the Pac-10 or Big Ten will be represented.


And almost no chance they both will.


Which means for the fourth time in five years we will not have the Big Ten vs. Pac-10 matchup that for decades was the staple of our New Year’s Day.


In the new century, we’ve had Miami-Nebraska, we’ve had Washington State-Oklahoma and now we have Texas-Michigan.


Oh boy.


To make matters worse, next year’s game — ostensibly for the national title and as such the most important of the bowl games — won’t be on the same day the Rose Parade is, won’t be bathed by that wonderful early afternoon sunshine, won’t be the Rose Bowl.


I love the Rose Bowl. And hate the BCS.


Not that it hasn’t tried to give us a championship game. But do we really need one? I didn’t feel cheated when the unbeaten Huskies had to share the title in 1991 with unbeaten Miami.


I don’t know that the Huskies who crushed No. 1-ranked Minnesota in the 1961 Rose Bowl game and weren’t called national champions cared all that much.


This time, however, the BCS intrusion was personal as well as philosophical.


My friend, Dave, who lives in Eugene, Ore., canceled his train tickets to Los Angeles for the Rose Bowl. Another friend, Lowell, who still lives in the Bay Area, rented a beach house in Pacific Grove instead.


I stayed in Seattle, unable to mount any interest among myself and Times editors to cover a matchup between Texas and Michigan.


The Bears weren’t going to the Rose Bowl. And neither were we.


Ah, we could pass it off to bad politics, the East Coast bias, or simply the influence of Texas, both on the presidential campaign as well as the BCS rankings.


Cal got hosed.


But, as Lowell says in trying to keep up his spirits, “If we had to have one — finally playing in the Rose Bowl or keeping Jeff Tedford as coach — I’d take Tedford any day.”


I’m not so sure. Who knows how long Tedford will be around — even after the Huskies helped him get a million-dollar deal — and who knows when the Bears will have a team worthy and fortunate enough to play in the Rose Bowl again?


If this sounds like whining, it is. If it sounds painful, it is more than that.


We are part of the longest-suffering, most-denied class in California’s history. We enrolled at Berkeley in September 1959, months after Cal’s last Rose Bowl appearance.


That was 46 years ago.


In the meantime, we pledged to gather in Pasadena when and if Cal ever went again.


We thought, in 1975, that we had a chance. Cal, after all, tied for the Pac-8 title.


We thought it was finally in the bag this year, until all the BCS permutations staggeringly gave the nod to Texas instead. Even though Cal lost only to USC and only by six points, and even though Cal was ranked nationally in the top six in both offense and defense.


Even though it had been 46 years.


So Texas not only gets to play in the Rose Bowl, but gets the $4.5 million given a second-place BCS team, the $4.5 million the Pac-10 didn’t get, or the $346,000 the Huskies would have gotten as their share if Cal had gone.


Under the old rules, we can understand Cal not going to the Rose Bowl because it finished second to USC in the league race. We’re realistic. We’re Bears. But the new rules were supposed to give a great second-place team a great second chance. They didn’t.


The process stinks, especially if coaches compromise themselves by voting for a school in their conference simply so they can collect a share of the BCS pie.


The six coaches who undercut Cal in the final poll — voting them as low as No. 7 or No. 8 — should be exposed. The coaches shouldn’t help decide the pool of teams. Neither should the writers.


Let some kind of committee pick them.


The BCS games aren’t going away, even though I wish they would. In fact, there will be a fifth one, giving two more teams a chance to be included in the big-money games.


But for me, and my Cal buddies, it isn’t about money or determining a national champion. It is about being back in the Rose Bowl.


I was fortunate enough to cover the games when Oregon and Washington State finally got back to Pasadena, the Ducks after 37 years, the Cougars after 67 years.


The partying outside the Rose Bowl and the reunions on the fairways of the golf course that surround it were so heartfelt, so real. I’ve seen nothing like it in sports, but then I wasn’t at the World Series this year when the Red Sox finally won.


In the end, Tedford didn’t run up the score on Southern Miss when he had a chance, and he didn’t shamelessly campaign for votes the way Mack Brown of Texas did.


I guess we can take solace in that. I guess we’ll have to.


Blaine Newnham: 206-464-2364 or bnewnham@seattletimes.com