PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Wisconsin Badgers fans take pictures outside before the 98th Rose Bowl Game on January 2, 2012 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
It was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining, birds were singing, I hadn't slept through my alarm clock which means I would actually have a shot of getting to work on time. I walked down my stairs and through the living room, passing the 2012 Rose Bowl panorama I purchased, framed and hung on the wall a little over 7 months ago. The Oregon Ducks had defeated the Wisconsin Badgers 45-38, the first Rose Bowl victory for Oregon in 95 years and I was there to see it. A moment that will carry with me for the rest of my life.
I smiled, continued on my way to the kitchen to get that coffee I so desperately needed. My mind turned to 2012. There was so much to do. Organize the tailgating schedule, figure out any travel plans for away games, think about what could be going on in those closed practices, and dream about going to another Rose Bowl or even better next year. Yes, 2012 was going to be awesome and I couldn't wait. There was just one problem.
What do I do after that?
2012 and 2013 are the final seasons under the current BCS format. After that, the college football world will usher in the dawn of a new beginning... a 4-team playoff system that will lead us to a "true and fair" national champion. It's something fans have been clamoring for ever since the BCS system was brought into this world. I've been right there with them, clanking my cowbell telling the BCS to get on the cart.
Even in making those calls for change, I've been to the last 3 BCS games, rooting my Oregon Ducks on, enjoying my mini-vacations in early January. All the memories, all the photographs, all the souvenirs from visiting those bowl destinations. Those Rose Bowl games meant something. They marked the end of the college football season for my fandom. You win that historic bowl game, you're a champion. Simple.
The BCS Playoff system has changed all that.
The Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta Bowls, as semi-final sites, are no longer destinations. They are just rest stops on the journey towards a National Title. What happens if Oregon wins a Rose Bowl in the new format, but loses in the National Title Game? Am I really going to go get a panorama of that Rose Bowl game, frame it up, stick it on the wall next to my other one and say "Wow, what a great win that Rose Bowl was"?
Instead, I'll go home disappointed, looking at opportunity lost with no second thought to the Rose Bowl game that used to mean so much. A historical victory in the Rose Bowl meant that you were a champion. In the new format, it's a consolation prize. I'm not sure I'm ready to give that championship feeling up, to look past such a victory in the Rose Bowl and think "That was a good win but man, if only we would have beaten team X in the National Title Game. Wouldn't that have been something".
Even in victory, the National Title Game will receive all the glory and prestige of matting, framing, and wall mounting. There is only so much money in my personal cash flow to go around. I'll have my various cell phone pictures to share on Facebook but all that is dwarfed in comparison to a title game victory. Sorry Rose Bowl, there's just nothing I can do about the circumstances. It's not you... well, maybe it is you.
I awoke from my dream, finished my coffee, and headed off to work. So much for being on time. Maybe I should have missed that alarm. Chip Kelly wouldn't have been happy with me sitting here, dreaming away in all of these hypotheticals. Win the Day, one game at a time and all that jolly good, pip pip stuff.
I wonder if any fans of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder or the NFL's New England Patriots have 2012 panoramas of their conference championship victories? If they do, maybe there is hope for me in 2014.