CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

'Traditional' Rose Bowl? Look a little closer

Wisconsin introduced December head coach No. 3 just last week. Gary Andersen felt so bad about bailing out on Utah State that he personally called each one of his players to break the news.

Andersen will monitor his new team from a distance this week and will not be on the Wisconsin sidelines for the game. "The last thing they need from me is to hang around them," he said.

Wisconsin also breaks tradition as the first five-loss team in Rose Bowl history. This was a result of Ohio State's and Penn State's being on NCAA probation.

Alvarez says his school owes no apology.

"I didn't have anything to do with two teams' being ineligible in our division," he said.

In the Badgers' defense, three of their five losses came in overtime, the other two by a total of six points.

The truth is, tradition is rarely what it used to be and the progressives would even say it's overrated. The Rose Bowl's historical purity was breached when it joined the Bowl Championship Series in 1998 and then, four years later, hosted Miami vs. Nebraska on a Thursday night — a "parade" was held on a different day.

Times change and so do bowls. In a sense, this is the last stand-alone "traditional" Rose Bowl of the era.

Next year, Pasadena will host the Rose Bowl and the final BCS title game. After that, the game will join hands with five other major bowls in a new, 12-year collaboration.

In the new four-team playoff format, each of six "major" bowls will host four national semifinal games. The Rose Bowl, in 12 years, will host eight "traditional" games. The four semis could include Pac-12 or Big Ten teams if they are selected among the final four.

There was initial thought that the Rose might take fewer semifinal games to keep more traditional arrangements, but the final decision was to become an equal partner.

It is possible next season will also be the last national title game hosted by college's oldest bowl.

The championship game will be rotated to the highest bidder. It will be news if the first game isn't hosted at Jerry Jones' palace outside Dallas.

The San Francisco 49ers' new home in Santa Clara and whatever new NFL stadium emerges in Los Angeles figure to be the targeted West Coast options.

Until then, enjoy this week's "traditional" Rose Bowl festivities.

Oh, did we mention the game is on cable?

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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