Traditionally, the Big Ten has been a college football playoff’s strongest opponent. The conference’s goal has been to keep access to the Rose Bowl, and to make sure that access remains relevant. Now, however, the conference appears not only open to a four-team playoff, but according to the Chicago Tribune, may present its own radical four-team plan for one. The following comments came out of a Big Ten AD’s mouth: “We have to listen to the fans. We cannot be tone deaf” and “The Big Ten is open and curious.”
The reported Big Ten plan would be a four-team playoff outside the bowl system. The two semifinal games would be home games for the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds. The title game would be bid out to a neutral site like the Super Bowl. It’s unclear whether the losers would be eligible for a bowl game, or when the semifinal games would be played. Though, the conference wants the title game moved closer to New Years.
“There is a very strong sense that we have missed the boat and are playing games too late,” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany told the Tribune. “Students are back in class, people are back at work.”
First off, if college football’s greatest tradition fetishists are now “open and curious,” some form of playoff will be in place by 2014. Lock that down.
Looking at this specific plan, it upgrades the current system. Alabama and Oklahoma State would have settled No. 2 vs. No. 3 on the field. The home games (a) provide the on campus spectacle that makes college football special, (b) provide a meaningful incentive to finish No. 1 instead of No. 4 and (c) make the games a true intra-conference test. The Big Ten, undoubtedly, would love to test Pac 12 and SEC speed in the snow. The BCS formula issue would need to be settled. The only downside is that it would lead directly to the question the Big Ten doesn’t want asked, why not eight?
This seems like a bizarre shift for the Big Ten, but really it’s consistent. Jim Delany’s priority always has been doing what is best for the Big Ten. This bowl season emphasized how the landscape has changed. The conference’s foundation is no longer on terra firma. It is time to recast the system in their favor.
Bowl games no longer confer prestige. A conference must compete for national titles. The Big Ten has been shut out of the game since 2007. Adding a title game, adding Nebraska,
moving to nine conference games (probably not) and having a scheduling contract with the Pac 12 will only decrease the likelihood of a Big Ten team getting there with the present constraints.
A four-team playoff would see a Big Ten team competing for the national title almost every year. Dismantling the BCS would allow the Big Ten to exert an even greater stranglehold on the top bowl games. Expect both to happen. Expect the Big Ten to benefit from it.
Previously: Virginia Tech’s Long-Snapper, Collin Carroll: Time to Eliminate the Extravagance of Bowl Week
Previously: Chris Petersen Rips the Silly BCS System. Somebody Tell Him a Playoff is Coming in 2015!
Previously: Leadership Changes Atop the Big 12 and Pac 12, Plus Oklahoma State Getting Screwed Likely Will Lead to a Plus-1 College Football Playoff in 2015
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