The leaders of college football have found a way to maintain tradition while advancing the sport.
It was an appropriate and thrilling end to the 16-year Bowl Championship Series era in college football: an old-school Rose Bowl game, a signature “Johnny Football” performance in the Chickfil- A Bowl and entertaining matchups, action and/or upsets in the Sugar, Cotton, Orange and Fiesta Bowls. The fact that the BCS National Championship Game proved legendary and was played in the most venerable bowl still standing, the Rose Bowl, helps brighten up the immediate rearview mirror look at the BCS.
While nearly 100,000 people filled the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day for the 100th Rose Bowl game—a matchup between Stanford and Michigan State—more than 100,000 people filled Ann Arbor’s Michigan Stadium for the NHL Winter Classic between two of the original six NHL teams, the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. The fact that these two events took place back-to-back on TV highlights the various elements currently at work on the sports calendar around New Year’s: cold versus warm, emerging tradition versus old tradition, games that count toward a championship versus a victory lap. And for those of us who grew up in the Midwest, spending New Year’s Day playing in the snow or skating on the ice and then coming back home to turn on the sunny Rose Bowl, the weather contrast was a reminder of how bowl games got started in the first place.