A lot has been made about the Rose Bowl's choice to have Illinois play in the Rose Bowl instead of say Georgia thus missing out on what could have been a truly great game.
I am not a big fan of tradition, I think progress is good and the Pac-10 and the Big 10 have done themselves and all CFB fans a disservice by not going for the more exciting game while trying to hold on to symbols of the past. The SEC is no better by holding onto Georgia for the Sugar Bowl. I am really not a fan of a playoff, though I can see some advantages to it, the benefit of breaking up these alliances would give the fans some really great match-ups.
I am not saying Illinois isn't deserving to play in the Rose Bowl but is it the best match-up we could have seen?
Illinois is here for the sake of tradition, even though the Rose Bowl bowed out on the concept the day it agreed to become part of the BCS quagmire.
It could have invited West Virginia or Kansas or unbeaten Hawaii, but instead opted to keep alive the tattered threads of its traditional Pac-10/Big Ten match-up by inviting Illinois.
This leaves our granddaddy with the least attractive of all BCS games, the only one that features a team outside the Top10.
Pac 10 Commissioner Tom Hansen is living in the dark ages and the Granddaddy is losing some its luster because he just won't change. I won't get into whether or not Ohio State deserves to be in the BCS Title Game but is that the best match-up for that game? Hard to tell and that is a whole other discussion for another time but you get the point.
This is Illinois' Title game, as they haven't been here since 1984 when they played and lost to an average ucla team. That was before the BCS when the Pac 10/Big 10 tradition was the only game in town. Those who feel that SC should be in the BCS Title Game should rethink that as it really doesn't matter how you finish but more about the body of work and that body of work has a very ugly loss to Stanford and that, at least in my eyes, disqualifies any possibility of going to the title game.
SC needs to guard against a let down because playing in their third Rose Bowl in a row can give off a aura of comfort and familiarity and that can breed complacency.
"Next year, I'd like to go to the Orange Bowl or somewhere else different, " defensive end Kyle Moore said. "That would be nice."
His sentiments were echoed by his teammates.
"I'm sure a lot of guys would like different venues," linebacker Clay Matthews said. "It's almost like it's become so familiar, we don't have to think about what to do."
USC is not just battling Illinois. It's battling boredom. The Rose Bowl, the Trojans' best friend, has also become its worst enemy.
I would like to think that the coaches will have these guys ready to play and not look past Illinois and if it were any other year I would feel confident about SC being ready but SC has looked past opponents before, ucla in 2006 and Stanford in 2007 so I am a little wary of our guys not coming out fired up. And while its no excuse for not coming out and giving your best a lot of this could be solved by letting the old traditions go and putting the best games possible out there.
Tradition is important for some things but traditions can be changed. Pete Carroll said before last season that the goal was always to get to the Rose Bowl, that's all well and good but I think it's time to shoot for a new goal.