Rose Bowl would welcome Penn St if it earns bid
The chief administrative officer of the Rose Bowl says if Penn
State wins the Big Ten title, the Nittany Lions will be free to
play in the top-tier postseason game as far as he’s concerned.
Kevin Ash said Thursday that the Rose Bowl would let the Big Ten
decide if there is a reason its champion shouldn’t play the Pac 12
winner in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 2.
”Whoever the champions are,” Ash said, ”we’ll welcome with
There have been calls for Penn State to decline a bowl bid in
the aftermath of the child sex-abuse scandal involving former
defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. The scandal led to the
firings of coach Joe Paterno and the school president.
New PSU president Rod Erickson didn’t give a definitive answer
last week when asked about a prospective bowl bid.
”We’ll wait and see at the appropriate time what decision is
made,” Erickson said. ”At this point, the expectation would be
where they deserve to play, they will play.”
Interim coach Tom Bradley also has said he hopes his team plays
in a bowl.
The Nittany Lions (8-2, 5-1) are among eight bowl-eligible teams
in the Big Ten and are alone in first place in the Leaders Division
with two regular-season games left.
Big Ten spokesman Scott Chipman said his conference has taken no
position on whether Penn State should accept a bowl bid and that
the league’s selection procedure would not be altered because of
Capital One Bowl chief executive Steve Hogan, whose bowl is No.
2 in the Big Ten selection order, said his committee would base its
matchup on on-the-field performance and that it would be unfair to
penalize players who had nothing to do with the scandal. Sandusky,
who is accused of molesting eight boys over 15 years and says he is
innocent, retired from Penn State in 1999.
Spokesmen for the Outback and Insight bowls, Nos. 3 and 4 in the
Big Ten order, declined to comment on how Penn State would be
viewed by their selection committees.
The Gator (No. 5), Meineke Car Care (No. 6) and Little Caesars
Pizza (No. 8) bowls didn’t return messages seeking comment.
Tom Star, president and chief executive of the TicketCity Bowl,
the Big Ten’s No. 7 bowl, said he wouldn’t hesitate to take Penn
State if the Lions were available.
”Our uppermost thoughts are with the victims,” Star said. ”I
don’t think anyone has been dealt more of an injustice in life than
them. I think it would be a further injustice if the right to play
in a bowl game was taken from the players. I don’t see how it helps
the situation. It’s not an academic situation, it has nothing to do
with the players on the current team, and there are no NCAA
Penn State is still very much in the running for the Rose
The Lions are a game ahead of Wisconsin in the Leaders Division
and would clinch a spot in the inaugural Big Ten championship game
on Dec. 3 in Indianapolis if it wins road games against Ohio State
and Wisconsin the next two weeks. PSU, with help, could get to the
title game even if it loses one of those games.
The Rose Bowl matches the winner of the Big Ten and Pac 12
unless one of the conference champions is Nos. 1 or 2 in the BCS
standings. In that case, the Big Ten or Pac 12 team is released to
play in the BCS title game and the conference runner-up takes the
champion’s spot in the Rose Bowl.
The Big Ten-Pac 12 agreement with the Rose Bowl has been in
place since 1946.
”Based on our long-standing relationship,” Ash said, ”we
would embrace any champion from the Big Ten Conference.”
Hosting the Nittany Lions this year would certainly mean dealing
to some degree with the Sandusky scandal. But fan interest in how
Penn State responds to its first bowl game without Paterno in
almost a half century would likely draw ratings, too.
Rose Bowl spokeswoman Gina Chappin said she couldn’t predict how
the public would feel about Penn State playing in one of college
football’s premier games. Chappin said Rose Bowl officials have not
discussed any potential backlash from inviting Penn State.
”I don’t think we can control public opinion on this,” she
said. ”We can’t emphasize enough how sensitive a subject this is.
I think it really is going to be a split story out there for people
who still have anger or are upset versus the people who try to pull
together and see through this should they come to Pasadena.”
Hogan, of the Capital One Bowl, said the child sex-abuse scandal
won’t be a factor when, and if, his selection committee considers
”It’s about what they’ve earned on the field and how it
compares to their brethren in the Big Ten,” Hogan said. ”Anything
that comes with that we’ll deal with.”
Associated Press writer Genaro Armas in State College, Pa.,
contributed to this story.