Welcome to the Rose Bowl of the future, a place where the Utahs, Brigham Youngs and Hawaiis of the college football world are welcome. Sort of.
According to a modification in the Bowl Championship Series rules, the Tournament of Roses could be forced to take a non-BCS team in the next few years.
The arrangement was hammered out several years ago, though it wasn't widely discussed until Big Ten Conference Commissioner Jim Delany brought it up Monday at the first of his conference's two media days.
Mitch Dorger, Rose Bowl chief officer, said later, "We didn't want to distract from the current arrangement or get people confused."
Confusion seems to be woven into the BCS fabric, but the deal works something like this:
In the past, if one of the Rose Bowl's traditional opponents, the Pacific 10 Conference and Big Ten champions, was selected for the national championship game, officials could take the conference's second-place team.
That's what happened when Ohio State played for the title in 2008 and Illinois came west to face USC.
Starting with the 2011 game, the Rose Bowl must fill the empty slot with a non-BCS team if that team is ranked No. 12 or higher.
So, in 2008, it might have been Hawaii facing the Trojans on New Year's Day.
But once the Rose Bowl takes one non-BCS team, it has fulfilled its obligation and can revert to the old rules until the current contract expires in 2014.
Other bowls have been forced to take non-BCS teams before -- Hawaii played in the 2008 Sugar Bowl against Georgia -- which was a sore point at the last round of television negotiations. They wanted to bring the Rose Bowl in line.
Pasadena agreed to put out a welcome mat for the smaller stars in the NCAA constellation. Kind of.
"The only other option was don't have a national championship game," Dorger said. "And we didn't like that option."