Rose Bowl executive: 'We have to evolve'

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IOWA CITY†ó College football's postseason alterations will impact the long-standing Rose Bowl Game, but a bowl executive hopes those changes will help rather than hinder the bowl's brand.

"We have to evolve; we know that," said Kevin Ash, chief executive officer of the Rose Bowl. "Change is inevitable; weíre going to change to whatever model is implemented and move forward and try to increase our brand and be relevant in the postseason.

"Any system that is implemented is going to pros and cons and I think itís important that the Rose Bowl game to adjust, have some flexibility to improve our brand, be relevant in the postseason and hopefully have a traditional game. Thatís what we want."

Ash said the bowl relies upon Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany to serve the game's best interest in discussions, which begin in earnest next week in Chicago.

"I think whichever direction they lead us in, weíll be OK," Ash said. "If we can just get a traditional game out of this and have some flexibility to go out of the system and depending on what model gets selected, then it will be similar to what weíve just been through with the BCS.

"We adjusted and adapted and evolved pretty well with that."

Delany repeatedly has said preserving the Big Ten's link with the Rose Bowl, which the league helps operate along with the Pac-12, ranks among the primary tenets as college football transitions from to a different postseason model.

"The Rose Bowl is one of the outstanding sports events, sports properties, sports brands, in the world. I donít think thatís an overstatement," Delany said. "Itís a stand-alone property thatís pretty significant, not only in the recent past but over the long haul."

"I think thatís one of the principles that weíre operating under," Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman said. "We feel very strongly that some connection with the Rose Bowl and some participation with the Rose Bowl is important for our conference."

The Rose Bowl easily generates the top college football ratings and viewership outside of the BCS championship game. In first half of 2010, the only non-NFL, non-Olympic sporting event to out-rate the Rose Bowl in total viewers was the BCS championship and the seventh game of the NBA finals.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 began its partnership with the Rose Bowl in 1946 and the leagues exclusively sent their champions to Pasadena until 2002. Since then, only four Rose Bowls have featured the champions of both conferences because of the Bowl Championship Series.

Ash called the current discussions about college football's postseason "a roller-coaster ride" but he remains confident the bowl will survive and thrive under any system.

"Our priority right now is our traditional game, and weíll deal with whatever options we have after the models have been selected or whether we can bid on a national game or if thatís part of the package," Ash said. "Right now itís a plus for us to have the BCS championship game, but our real goals are to have the traditional game, and thatís important."

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