Gregory Bull AP
Gregory Bull AP

Gil LeBreton

Playoff committee failed to smell roses on USC, Penn State

January 03, 2017 07:37 PM

UPDATED January 04, 2017 11:47 AM

The Rose Bowl Game Trophy, also officially known as the Leishman Trophy, remains a modest bauble by today’s standards.

The Hawaii Bowl trophy bears a bronze football made into a pineapple. The Orange Bowl trophy is mostly a giant bowl of oranges.

And then there’s the Fiesta Bowl trophy -- a three-layer, 46-inch-tall, 200-pound abomination of bling.

But the Rose Bowl trophy is neither abundantly large or ostentatious. Its elegance lies in what it represents, 115 years since its namesake game was first played.

Never miss a local story.

Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access.

Southern Cal and Penn State honored that tradition grandly Monday. It was a contest marked by haymakers and shifting tides, eventually won by the Trojans in the final second on a 46-yard field goal.

Who can argue today that the Nittany Lions, card-carrying 2016 champions of the Big Ten Conference, and the Trojans wouldn’t belong in such a playoff?

Only one thing could have made the 103rd Rose Bowl Game better: If the prize at the end had been more than that simple trophy. A trip to the next round of a college football playoff, dare we say?

Who can argue today that the Nittany Lions, card-carrying 2016 champions of the Big Ten Conference, and the Trojans wouldn’t belong in such a playoff?

Instead, Clemson and Alabama will play for the college football national championship Monday night. A stout case can be made for both.

Alas, the same can’t be said for the teams that the Tigers and Crimson Tide rolled over to get to the title game. Ohio State and Washington, respectively, combined to score one touchdown. USC and Penn State together scored 14.

Excuse me for barking at the moon yet again, but the continuing abomination known as the College Football Playoff deserves it. All of the weekend get-togethers at the Gaylord Texan, all of the Monday night rankings unveilings for TV, all of the Dr Pepper Larry Culpepper commercials – and the committee still only got its task half-right.

Two of four. Not a very good job, lady and gentlemen.

CFP's Kirby Hocutt weighs in on Big Ten challenge

Kirby Hocutt, the Chairman of the CFP selection committee, discusses Sunday's challenge that resulted in Ohio State getting a playoff berth despite not winning a Big Ten title. Video by Jimmy Burch

jburch@star-telegram.com

We’ve all heard their rationalizations. But how can the whole college football regular season be weighed by one giant set of win-loss standings, when schedules, scripted by the schools themselves, vary so broadly?

And who can say now that the champions of the Big 12 and Big Ten weren’t as good as a team that didn’t even win its own conference?

Law graduates abound throughout the Big 12 alumni rolls. Why can’t a few of them take the CFP system to court? Sue the Dr Peppers out of them. Expand the playoff field.

As my colleague Jimmy Burch pointed out so well, the playoff has already soiled the traditional bowls. The next step is going to be dozens of college juniors, with their eyes on the NFL Draft, declining to play in their teams’ bowl games? We already saw a sampling of that this bowl season.

The Rose Bowl, frankly, should be grand-daddied into the honor of being an annual host site.

The solution remains simple – and ESPN-friendly, which makes it a mystery why there hasn’t been more of a push for it.

Expand the playoff field to eight teams, which would make the committee’s job 100 percent easier. Seed the teams and play the first-round games on campus sites on the weekend after the conference championship games.

The four winners would play in the semifinals as they do now. The Rose Bowl, frankly, should be grand-daddied into the honor of being an annual host site.

The four losing teams from the first round could still be invited to other bowl games.

With eight teams, there should be room for every Power Five conference champion. And even Ohio State.

Who can argue this season that USC, Penn State and Oklahoma, and even Oklahoma State and Florida State, couldn’t have been worthy playoff teams?

I’m finished barking. But is there a lawyer in the house?

Gary Patterson's perspective on being a defensive coach in the Big 12's modern era

Sure, scoring is up among the teams considered to be the cream of the Big 12. But does that mean that defensive play has necessarily taken the nose dive off the cliff that college football pundits often say it has? The TCU coach offers his perspective from the sideline. Video by Matthew Martinez.

mmartinez@star-telegram.com