Rose Bowl time slot preserved in ESPN pact

The Rose Bowl will never be what it was, but it still has tremendous value as a sports property and as an important date on the American sporting calendar.

While fewer Big Ten fans hold a candle for "The Granddaddy of Them All" these days, the game still resonates throughout the league footprint. The Big Ten and its commissioner, Jim Delany, want to keep the Rose Bowl as relevant as possible in the coming years, even after the four-team playoff begins in 2014.

One important step: maintaining the Rose Bowl's traditional time slot at 5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT). The kickoff time fits in perfectly to New Year's Day plans (or New Year's Eve hangovers), and because no game can go against the Rose, people always tune in.

As first reported here earlier this week, the Rose Bowl will keep its time slot in a 12-year extension with ESPN announced Thursday. ESPN will continue to broadcast the game between 2015-2026, the same span as the four-team playoff.

Whether or not the Rose Bowl is a semifinal, the game will kick off at 5 p.m. ET. The game will take place on Jan. 1 every year unless Jan. 1 is a Sunday, in which case it will move to Jan. 2. Big Ten and Pac-12 teams will meet in Pasadena in years when the game isn't a semifinal, and the traditional pairing also could take place in a semi.

ESPN will showcase the Rose Bowl across its platforms. ABC/ESPN has broadcast the Rose Bowl since 1989 and will do so again in 2013 and 2014 (100th Rose Bowl Game).

"We're excited that the Rose Bowl Game will continue to be featured on ESPN through 2026," Delany said in a prepared statement. "The Big Ten and Pac-12 have a tremendous history of exciting matchups on New Year’s Day in Pasadena that dates back more than a century. We look forward to continuing the great tradition of featuring the Rose Bowl Game on ESPN, which has been a Big Ten partner since launching in 1979."

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott added:

"As we usher in the new era of a college football playoff, it is gratifying to know that the Rose Bowl will continue to be the premier Bowl game in college football. With the signing of this landmark long-term broadcast agreement with ESPN, the history, tradition and success of the Rose Bowl Game will be assured for many years to come."

The Rose Bowl agreement always is handled separately from the other major bowls. TV negotiations for the new playoff begin this fall.

One big question is how often the Rose Bowl will host a national semifinal in the coming years. I hope to have an answer for you soon, so stay tuned.