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Wisconsin's Alvarez open to playoff idea

2/9/2012

Add another influential Big Ten figure to those who are at least open to the idea of a college football playoff.

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez wrote a column for Varsity, the school's online magazine, in which he addressed the plan floated by Big Ten officials that would see a four-team playoff with semifinal games played at campus sites. Alvarez wrote that he feels "comfortable taking a serious look at our potential options" and that he is "definitely intrigued by the proposal."

Alvarez said his "first and foremost" concern is protecting the Rose Bowl, which is understandable given the way Badgers fans have responded to their Pasadena trips. But if that can be done, he said he likes the idea in general, and calls the use of campus sites "one way of leveling the playing field a little bit."

"I've felt that SEC teams have had an advantage because of the number of bowls that have been played in their backyard," Alvarez writes. "What would they think about leaving the South and playing in the Midwest?"

Alvarez said he wants to maintain the importance of the regular season, and pointed to Duke's recent loss at home to Miami in men's basketball as an example of a regular-season game that likely will be long forgotten and irrelevant come tournament time. He doesn't want that to happen in football. But the beauty of the proposal is that teams will have to keep fighting to earn home-field advantage. And since it only adds one more game to the schedule for two teams, Alvarez said the idea is "workable."

The Wisconsin legend's support is important. Remember that Alvarez played a key role in getting Nebraska into the league as the 12th member by relying on his relationship with his alma mater.

In the piece, Alvarez also seeks to clarify his comments last week in response to Bret Bielema's allegations of "illegal" recruiting by Ohio State's Urban Meyer. Alvarez reiterated that there's no "gentleman's agreement" in Big Ten recruiting but said he in no way was trying to contradict or show a lack of respect for his head football coach.