Congress offsides at Rose Bowl

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals “It’s an admission that college football is going to be reaching a crossroads, and they’re going to have to decide how best to balance athletics with academics at a time of financial opportunity,” said David Carter, executive director of the Sports Business Institute at University of Southern California and a consultant on Rose Bowl stadium operations. Several lawmakers, including Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, criticized the subcommittee members for holding the hearing instead of concentrating on more significant issues, such as health care, the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina relief. But House Energy Committee Chairman Joe Barton, R-Texas, said college football’s multimillion-dollar economic impact makes it increasingly deserving of congressional oversight. And the current system – in which teams that compete in the elite bowl games are chosen from a computerized ranking system and a human poll – “just hasn’t worked out very well,” Barton said. But chairmen of the Fiesta and the Alamo bowls, as well Johnstone and commissioners of the Big 12 and Big Ten conferences, said neither they nor most coaches or university chancellors want playoffs. Big Ten Conference Commissioner James Delany said playoffs would mean fewer games on campus during the season, more games conflicting with academic schedules, and a threat to the Rose Bowl. “It would be difficult to overstate the significance of the Rose Bowl conference,” Delany said. “The Rose Bowl is far more than a football game. It’s a great life experience for our players.” Lawmakers, particularly Barton, were not satisfied. “In every other college sport we have a playoff,” Barton said. “The only explanation that makes any sense to me is that there’s so much money in some of the major bowls.” Johnstone noted that the Rose Bowl is independent of the Bowl Championship Series. In 1947, the Tournament of Roses Association partnered with the Pac-10 and Big Ten conferences to host their best teams on New Year’s Day, a unique arrangement that includes a contractual sellout and gives the Bowl Championship Series no control over the Rose Bowl. Johnstone said he fears a playoff system could, in some years, turn the Rose Bowl – which now has an estimated annual economic impact of $225 million – into a semifinal or quarter-final game, diminish its prestige and television revenues, and ultimately jeopardize Pasadena’s 117-year-old New Year’s extravaganza. “Attendance at the Rose Bowl Game will be significantly decreased, which, in turn, will significantly decrease our ability to provide a strong economic impact to the city of Pasadena,” said Mitch Dorger, Tournament of Roses Association chief executive. Schiff also said he opposes moving to a playoff system, calling the idea impractical as well as detrimental to Pasadena. But Carter said he is confident the Rose Bowl and attendant traditions could weather change. “It’s going to remain the granddaddy of them all under almost any conceivable set of circumstances,” he said. Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., said that while the Bowl Championship Series isn’t perfect, it’s working. And he had a message for Congress: “Please stay out of this,” Kyser said. “There are more important things for you to worry about.” Staff writer Gary Scott contributed to this report. Lisa Friedman, (202) 662-8731 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – With millions of dollars and bragging rights at stake, a congressional panel began investigating Wednesday whether to change the controversial system used to determine the nation’s top college football teams. But Rose Bowl officials testified that sacking the Bowl Championship Series – long criticized for favoring major colleges and, in some years, failing to produce clear winners – in favor of a playoff system could jeopardize the venerable Pasadena tradition. “We believe a playoff system with assigned teams and assigned days would undermine the essence of the Rose Bowl and its business relationships,” William Johnstone, chairman of the Rose Bowl Management Committee, told a House subcommittee. While much of the hearing was dominated by sports trash-talk and good-natured ribbing – and the Texas lawmaker who called the hearing said he has no plans to legislate a new playoff system – analysts said the congressional attention signals change for college football. last_img