I’m sorry, but did the Big Ten — the Betamax of college football conferences — just enter the digital age? And become pals with the SEC in the process?
Big Ten officials fell in line with the SEC and the Big 12 Monday, declaring that the impending college football playoff should be comprised of the nations four best teams, regardless of their conference affiliation. Commissioner Jim Delany also endorsed the possibility of junking polls and computer rankings and forming a selection committee to pick those four teams — an idea that has been pushed in my disturbed little corner of the universe.
Quoting Delany from a Monday news conference with Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman and Indiana president Michael McRobbie: “Everybody recognizes the present poll system is not a good proxy. … It should be the four best teams.”
Did that really happen?
The Big Ten and Pacific 10/12 conferences have long been obstacles in a playoff format, in part because of their respective allegiances to the Rose Bowl. So the fact that the Big Ten is not endorsing a model for change — albeit late — is significant.
A few weeks ago I proposed my plan for the four-team playoff. Here’s the link. But let me recap a few bullet points:
• The four teams can come from any conferences, with no automatic bids and no cap on how many per conference. I don’t care if the SEC gets zero or four. (Not surprisingly, SEC presidents favor this model, as you would expect from a conference that placed Alabama vs. LSU in the last BCS title game and has won six straight national championships.)
• The four teams should be picked by a selection committee, similar to the one used for the NCAA basketball tournament.
• The semifinals should be held at the campus stadiums for the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds, with the championship game bid out to cities, similar to the Super Bowl.
• The bowls, the BCS, polls, computers, etc., should have absolutely no input on the four-team playoff. They all can come into play for the non-playoff postseason games. And yes, that means the Rose Bowl can still have its Big Ten-Pacific 12 match-up, as long as neither school is in a semifinal. Similarly, the Sugar, Orange, Fiesta and Cotton Bowls also can create closed or partially closed bowls, fulfilling their own marketing needs.
Delany’s comments were significant Monday. I’m starting to believe many of the above criteria will be in place for a playoff.
By Jeff Schultz