Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Big Ten mailblog
By Adam Rittenberg
Coming at you a day late, but better late than never. Another one will be posted Friday.
Hal from Clemson, S.C., writes: Perhaps before you dive into a diatribe insulting everything and everyone southern, you sir are the one who needs to take a breath. We are responding to the Delany quotes that you referenced yourself. Little else has been reported by the WWLIS. So at best he's been contradictory and at worst just stupid but I digress. As your colleague said, any restrictions on qualifying and now you don't have a playoff, once again it becomes a popularity contest. Also, next time you enter into the insulting of southerners worlds... perhaps you should proof read your material... we proper southerners don't like reading drool... "but it brings more problems that people acknowledge," should have been than, just sayin'.
Adam Rittenberg: Good catch, Hal! Maybe you'll become a blog editor someday. I agree Jim Delany has been contradictory at times, but you're responding to one quote, the one perceived to be a dig at Alabama. You're disregarding the many other quotes Delany gave days later about a hybrid model that would have a mix of conference champions and a wild card spot for a deserving team like Alabama. He said this repeatedly, and yet in SEC Country he's still somehow advocating for conference champions only and campus sites for games. That simply isn't true, and it needed to be pointed out several times for it to sink in. Also, I don't really see your point about restrictions and a playoff. No playoff model out there lets everyone in, and most pro playoff models feature a mix of league champions and wild cards, just as the Big Ten has proposed. What SEC folks need to understand is there will be room for a team like Alabama in whatever model is decided. Will there be a room for the third-place SEC team or the third-place Big 12 team or the third-place Big Ten team? No. And in almost every case, there shouldn't be. It's a four-team playoff, not a 16-team playoff.
Alex from China writes: Adam, Delany has stated he is not a big fan of superconferences. But even if it became very clear that the other BCS conferences were moving in that direction, would it be possible for the Big Ten to simply not expand at all? Maybe I am missing something, but I don't see it having a negative effect on the conference. If anything, I think adding more schools that aren't Notre Dame, or maybe Virginia Tech, dilute the Big Ten brand. The Big Ten has a great setup with 12 teams right now. Is it possible for Delany to say he wants to keep it that way, even if the other conferences go to 16 teams?
Adam Rittenberg: It's certainly possible, Alex. The Big Ten announced Monday it distributed a record $284 million to its members. Money isn't an issue in this league, despite the lack of national championships. Could the Big Ten make more money by getting bigger? Sure. But it would be sharing that money with other schools. Getting bigger for the sake of getting bigger or to merely "catch up" with other conferences isn't a good reason to expand. You had better make sure those extra mouths to feed are also bringing some bread to the table. If the financial rewards of expansion, especially with a new TV deal coming up, outweigh the risks and downsides of expansion, namely teams playing each other a lot less, the Big Ten should and likely will proceed. But I don't get that sense right now from any of the league's power brokers. The Big Ten can sit on its huge pile of cash and remain at 12.
Stephanie from Denver writes: I'm unclear on the level of support of the campus site proposal, Adam. In your opinion, is it just the Big Ten (if it had its wish) that was in favor of campus sites for the semifinals, meaning it would've been 1-vs-5 in terms of BCS votes? I thought initially the Pac-12 was also in favor (meaning 2-vs-4)?
Adam Rittenberg: The Pac-12 also had some support for campus sites, Stephanie, but the Big Ten saw the opposition being too strong in this case. The league also saw some logistical difficulties at holding semifinals at some venues, even though many of those venues are outside the Big Ten. So the Big Ten gave up on the campus-sites push and turned its attention to its original stated goal -- preserving the regular season and the Rose Bowl. It's fair to ask if the Big Ten gave up too easily. But the Big Ten saw this as a losing battle and didn't want to be painted as a barrier to progress.
Mike from Chicago writes: Jim Delany is really a mastermind. He says that he and other BIG 10 ADs and university presidents still prefer the status quo of using the existing bowl system with the plus 1 model (they don't) but understands that the rest of the conferences want to move in a 4 team playoff direction and is willing to do so as long as their is compromise between all parties concerned. Throughout this whole process, he is bouncing ideas off the media and when they are met with dislike (like campus semifinals) he backs off them showing he is both flexible and willing to listen to everyone's concerns. Delany's ultimate goal if people haven't noticed is to setup the BIG 10 with the best chance to send one of its schools to the playoffs and the best way to do that is to get conference champs greater access. You then have the SEC in their own corner shouting in unison that they only want the 4 best teams in the playoff and that there will be no compromise on this subject, period. Delany comes to the punch line that he actually agrees with the SEC that the 4 best teams in college should be in the playoffs and that the best way of choosing the teams is through an independent selection committee. He smartly does not expand on what guidelines the committee would use but you can bet your ass its going to include giving stronger consideration to conference champs.
Adam Rittenberg: Mike, that's an interesting take, and there's certainly some truth to it. Delany definitely sees this process as an ongoing negotiation, and he, unlike the SEC folks, isn't going to make any absolute statements while the process is still unfolding. I still disagree with the need to talk about status quo and the plus-one before voicing support for a selection committee to determine a four-team playoff. There's really no need at this point to discuss things that aren't realistic (status quo or plus-one). Delany and the Big Ten would gain more points by pushing their progressive idea -- selection committee, not polls or computers -- rather than the one that makes them look stodgy and stuck in the past. I do agree he's trying to position the Big Ten for the final negotiations, and he wants the conference championship component to be important no matter what is decided. While some Big Ten fans would rather have Delany take a firm stance like Slive, you have to wonder if the SEC's approach will work or not as we enter the final stages.
LionBAfan1234 from San Francisco writes: Adam, I think people are underestimating that voter behavior won't change if it becomes the top 4 teams. Last year if the playoff was in effect, voters would have moved Oregon ahead of Stanford logically. Because there was no incentive to (Oregon had the Rose locked up) the difference btw being #4 or #5 didn't matter to them. In fact it mattered more to Stanford as they got the automatic BCS bid by being in the top 4 as a non-conference champ. But even if voters kept Stanford ahead of Oregon, you could have a simple rule that says if a team in the top four didn't win their conf, lost to their conf champ and that champ is ranked behind them in spots 5 thru 8, then the champ gets the ticket to the playoff instead. You don't need a selection committee in this case, and it keeps it objective.
Adam Rittenberg: I agree you could have control principles for the polls -- conference champions in top 6, etc. -- but you're honestly telling me the polls are more objective than a selection committee would be? The Coaches' poll especially? C'mon, Lion Fan. You're kidding yourself. The Coaches' Poll is an absolute joke and filled with biases and agendas. Plus, those guys are so focused on their teams (justifiably) that they can't get a true gauge of what's going on around the country and particularly outside of their leagues. Would there be potential for biases with a selection committee? Sure. But that potential, in my view, is way less than what we have with the current polls. I also like that a selection committee would meet after the season, and could look back on the season rather than have their views shaped by what happened in previous seasons. It's not perfect by any means, but it's a better method than polls or computer rankings that no one understands.
Grant from Detroit writes: Is Delaney the worst negotiator in college football? Seriously. Because he has accomplished NOTHING in the NC talks other than rolling over and letting the SEC walk all over him. "Oh, we can't get home games? Okay. But we want Conference Champs with a wild card. No? Fine by me! Can we get a selection committee? Probably not? Yeah, I didn't want that anyway." I am so sick and tired of him lacking the testicular fortitude to stand up to the bullies down south. We are setting the precedent that the SEC rules all in college football and if they throw a big enough temper tantrum about anything, they get their way. Sorry for the rant. Now for my question: What (if anything) has the SEC had to compromise on from their original list of goals in the negotiations regarding the national championship game/playoff model?
Adam Rittenberg: Grant, I understand your feelings on this, but there's a counter argument. It states that during a negotiation, it's better to discuss multiple options and remain open to different possibilities than to take an uncompromising stance before the process is over. The SEC has said it won't budge on best four teams. Well, there are other leagues in the room, and they haven't declared the negotiation over. They also don't feel that whatever the SEC says goes. It's pretty clear everyone will have to compromise or an agreement never will be reached. It's fair to say the Big Ten/Delany gave up on campus sites too easily, but they haven't given up the hybrid model, which some believe will be the answer in the end. When did Delany give up on a selection committee? He just advocated strongly for one Monday. I think you're getting too wrapped up in the SEC's absolute statements in thinking that's how this thing will turn out. The negotiation isn't over yet, and just because Delany hasn't taken one rigid position doesn't mean he won't get some things he wants.
Steve from Milwaukee writes: What kind of year does John Simon need to have to sneak into the first round? He seems to have strong intangibles and clearly has the ability and work ethic to play well at any level, but the draft is too often focused on physical measurables where his size will hurt his stock. Also, assuming he doesn't have an awful year, is there any chance he goes later than the 2nd round?
Adam Rittenberg: Steve, I'd be really surprised if Simon falls below the second round, although, as you point out, NFL evaluators are hung up on measurables. He's clearly a tweener -- too small at tackle, a little too short at end. But he clearly makes up for it in other areas of his play. You always hear about Simon's motor. That's the same thing we heard about Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan in 2010, and Kerrigan, who some say lacked ideal measurables, ended up going in the first round in 2011 and having a great year for Washington. Simon clearly knows how to play, and he's a coach's dream. That said, he'll need to have an outstanding senior season to work his way into the first round. And even then, he could slip because of things outside his control (height, etc.).