Big Ten: BCS meetings 062012

"The devil is in the details."

It has been the most common phrase used by commissioners during the BCS postseason meetings. Even after Wednesday's historic announcement about an endorsed four-team playoff, commissioners cautioned that many details still must be worked out, even if the BCS presidential oversight committee signs off on the model next week in Washington D.C.

Colleague Mark Schlabach breaks down the remaining questions and the work still left to do in this excellent BCS primer. Be sure and give it a read.

Among the topics Schlabach addresses are location of games and revenue:
The committee will still have the authority to send a Pac-12 team to the Rose Bowl or an ACC team to the Orange Bowl for semifinal games if they're ranked in the top two. Traditional matchups and geography will still be considered while seeding the teams and placing them in semifinal games. The commissioners have agreed to offer the national championship game to the highest bidding city on an annual basis, like the NFL does with the Super Bowl. The host cities of the current BCS bowl games -- Miami, New Orleans, Pasadena, Calif., and Glendale, Ariz. -- would be eligible to bid on the championship game. It isn't immediately clear whether those bowls would be allowed to double-host semifinal and championship games. Cities that have been left out of the BCS system until this point, such as Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis and St. Louis, also would be allowed to bid on the championship game. ...
The top five conferences -- ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC -- will undoubtedly receive the largest share of the purse. The Big East, which lost TCU and West Virginia to the Big 12 this year, and will lose Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC in 2014, will probably receive a much smaller share than what it earns in the current BCS system. The commissioners are considering a revenue sharing model that would reward revenue based on a league's past performance in the BCS standings since 1998. Delany said this week he would like academic performance to be a consideration in how the money is divided.

The point about Midwest cities getting involved in the national title game bidding should pique the interest of Big Ten fans. Officials from Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium, Detroit's Ford Field and St. Louis' Edward Jones Dome told ESPN.com in April that their venues are interested on bidding for the national title game.
Not long after the BCS commissioners and Notre Dame's athletic director endorsed a seeded four-team playoff beginning in the 2014 season, the scorecards began rolling in.

There would be no Pacquaio-Bradley controversy at the Hotel InterContinental in Chicago.

The consensus victor: commissioner Mike Slive and the SEC.
Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde: "If the long slog toward a college football playoff were the Tour de France, the only thing left would be the ceremonial victory lap down the Champs-Élysées. The guy in the yellow jersey, sipping champagne as he rides? That would be Mike Slive."
CBSsports.com's Dennis Dodd: "Get used to a world -- a new college football playoff world -- much like the current one. Tigers, Tide, Gators and Dawgs running loose and free over the landscape. There wasn't a bigger rubber stamp in the room when the playoff pack's 12 Angry Men (11 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick) took their biggest step yet in this discussion."
SI.com's Stewart Mandel: "After a series of compromises, the SEC -- owner of six straight national championships -- can be declared the victor. Again."

If Slive and the SEC "won" with the agreed-upon postseason model, Jim Delany and the Big Ten must have lost, right? It fits the narrative, after all. It probably didn't help that Delany wore a bandage on his face during Wednesday's news conference, surely the result of a vicious right hook from Slive in the meeting room.

Many will interpret Wednesday's result as a setback for Delany, who vigorously supported the BCS system and helped shoot down the plus-one proposal Slive and ACC commissioner John Swofford brought up in 2008.

The truth is the Big Ten had to give up some of its potential desires for the playoff consensus to be reached. But so did every league. And the things the Big Ten gave up were nationally unpopular or not feasible.

Let's go through them:

Campus sites

While the Big Ten acknowledged campus sites could have benefits for its teams not currently present in the BCS structure, there was virtually no support for campus sites among the other leagues. There were concerns about staging these massive sporting events at smallish stadiums in remote areas. Again, not a Big Ten problem, but a problem elsewhere.

Did the Big Ten give up too easily on pushing for campus sites? Perhaps. Was there any chance campus sites would be approved by even a small majority of commissioners? No. Even the Big Ten's players and coaches said they preferred to have games at bowl sites to preserve the bowl experience.

Rose Bowl access

The new system, if approved by the presidents, will keep semifinals in the existing bowls, most likely on a predetermined, rotating basis. It's hard not to envision the Rose Bowl being a national semifinal every other year, at the very least. There's the Rose Bowl, and then there are the other bowls. It's not really close, and it's humorous to hear how some think the Champions Bowl will rival the Rose Bowl. These significant games should be in Pasadena more often than not.

Will there be years where the Rose Bowl features two teams not from the Big Ten or Pac-12? Yes. But that's already happened. Will the traditional matchup (Big Ten champion vs. Pac-12 champion) take place all the time? No. But it doesn't now. Here's all you need to know about the Rose Bowl in the BCS era: Ohio State has played in Pasadena a grand total of one time despite dominating the Big Ten. We've seen a lot of Big Ten vs. Pac-12, but the matchups rarely have featured the best teams from each conference.

There's a decent chance a Rose Bowl semifinal will feature at least one of the traditional participants. In years where the Rose Bowl isn't a semifinal, you'll likely see the Big Ten's No. 1 or No. 2 against the Pac-12's No. 1 or No. 2. Pretty much like it is now.

"That's been a core principle for the Pac-12 and the Big Ten throughout this whole process," Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said, "the preservation of heritage and the importance of the Rose Bowl, making sure in any system going forward, the Rose Bowl is going to have an important role to play, so that it's as relevant 20 years from now as it is today."

That might be wishful thinking on Scott's part, but the Rose Bowl shouldn't be dramatically different after 2014.

Plus-One

File this idea under "wildly unpopular." The Big Ten presidents stated a plus-one -- selecting the national title game participants after all the bowls are played -- as their preference ahead of a four-team playoff. Some Pac-12 presidents feel the same way. But the momentum and discussion always rested with a true four-team model. Delany knew it. Scott knew it. They had to relay what their presidents felt because that's their job. A plus-one will be discussed next week to appease folks like Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman, but it likely won't be seriously considered.

The likely death of the plus-one isn't really a loss for the Big Ten. It's simply acknowledging reality, which is a good thing.

Conference champion access

Delany reiterated Wednesday to ESPN.com, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal that he never endorsed a conference-champions-only model for a four-team playoff. He said he never felt a team like last year's Alabama squad should have been excluded from the postseason. Teams "at the margin," like No. 4 Stanford last year, are completely different cases.

Is he backtracking? Some will say yes. But find the quote where Delany said champions only. It doesn't exist.

What Delany wanted to ensure was a Big Ten champion at No. 4 or No. 5, according to a poll or a computer or just plain old perception, isn't excluded from the playoff in favor of a team that didn't win its league. And that's not going to happen.

If you're keeping score, the Big Ten's big win Wednesday was the virtual certainty that a selection committee will be used to pick the playoff participants. A selection committee with clear guidelines on how to value conference championships and strength of schedule. If a conference champion and a non-champion with comparable résumés are fighting for the last spot, the conference champion will get in. Mark it down.

That was Delany's idea, one he has pushed for since mid May. And while the hybrid model -- the top three rated league champions plus one wild card -- might not be set in stone, that's what you're going to see when this system begins. The data backs it up.
In the 14-year BCS era, 42 of the 56 teams that finished in the top four of the BCS standings won their conference championship. That's 75 percent, which is the same exact number a three-and-one system would guarantee. Only five times in 14 years would a top four team have been left out for failing to win its conference, and all five occasions involved flipping the No. 4 and 5 teams. There would never have been a No. 3 left out or a No. 6 let in.

Slive can appease his minions by having a playoff that selects the "best four." And if the SEC continues its dominance, expect to see two of its teams in the playoff every year. But not three. That's not happening.

Delany couldn't win on certain issues (campus sites, plus-one, perfect Rose Bowl access), so he needed to ensure the selection committee got through, conference championships are valued, and strength of schedule becomes a bigger part of the equation. Those items all should be adopted with the new format.

"Once I became convinced that the regular season was safe," Delany said, "that the bowls and the Rose Bowl in particular, had a place in the system, and once I was able to talk through all of the issues with my colleagues, we found a way to get to that consensus recommendation."

Be prepared to hear how the Big Ten and Delany lost on Wednesday. It fits a nice, easy and lazy narrative.

The truth is Delany adapted to a changing landscape. He might have to bring his presidents along, kicking and screaming.

But the new system should sit well with most Big Ten fans. It's not a total loss.

CHICAGO -- The BCS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick on Wednesday endorsed a seeded four-team playoff model for college football that would begin for the 2014 season.

The commissioners' consensus must be approved by the BCS presidential oversight committee, which meets June 26 in Washington, D.C. If approved, the four-team playoff would replace the BCS system, which has been in place since 1998.

"We're very unified," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said. "There are issues that have yet to be finalized. There's always devil in the detail, from the model to the selection process, but clearly we've made a lot of progress."

For the rest of the story, click here.
CHICAGO -- When Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany met with the league's football coaches to discuss the inevitable shift in the postseason model, the conversation went like this.

Coaches: Commissioner, why are we doing this?

Delany: We're doing it because I think it's the next evolutionary step. There are people who'd like to see it happen.

Coaches: But we're not asking for it.

Delany: Yeah, but you didn't defend and support the other system.

Delany rehashed the exchange Wednesday before the latest meeting of BCS power brokers. As the BCS system as enters its final stages, Delany called for those around the sport to rally around the new postseason model.

"Any system only can last so long without support," Delany said, "and there's just constant criticism [of the BCS]. My hope would be wherever we end up, the outcomes have more public acceptance. Part of that is our responsibility to come up with a system that's a little more transparent, a little more rational, a little more clear."

Delany knows the controversy and criticism won't go away, but he expects any new system to be an "improvement on what we had."

"I'm not suggesting people can't criticize," he said. "I'm just saying the level, the drumbeat of criticism, was so significant over time, that it forced the change."
CHICAGO -- When a new TV agreement is finalized for college football's future postseason model, the conferences will have a substantially larger revenue pie to divide.

"Is it $350 million or $100 million?" Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson asked Wednesday.

No one knows for sure as negotiations are set to begin this fall, but every conference can see dollar signs in its future.

How should they split up the dough?

CBSsports.com reported earlier this week that commissioners are considering a proposal that would assign revenue based on past on-field performances, including placements in the final BCS standings since 1998. In this model, the SEC and Big Ten have had the most teams in the final top 25s, and would get the most $$$.

Another factor could be academic performance. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany on Wednesday said he would like the academic records of teams and leagues to help shape how revenue is divided.

"There ought to be a recognition somehow," Delany said. "There's recognition de-facto in the sense that nobody's going to be playing in this event if they don't have a 930 [academic progress rate score], if they're not predicting a 50 percent graduation rate. The question is, is there something beyond that? ... I think it ought to be considered."

The latest APR scores came out Wednesday, and the Big Ten performed well. Northwestern led the FBS with a multiyear score of 995, while Ohio State also received recognition for a score of 988. Eight of 12 Big Ten teams scored 950 or better.

A subcommittee on revenue-sharing met early Wednesday at the Hotel InterContinental.

"It's a sensitive area, and it's an area where you have to listen closely," Delany said. "People want fair access, people want fair revenue-sharing. Access, revenue-sharing, contributions to the marketplace, some respect for the fact that these programs are sponsored by collegiate institutions. ... In principle, we probably are agreed. But you never know until you know the model exactly what you're doing to deal with.

"We worked it out last time. I'm sure we'll work it out this time."
CHICAGO -- BCS commissioners have made it clear since last week that more than one postseason model will be presented June 26 to the presidential oversight committee.

But the momentum remains strong for a four-team playoff over a plus-one format.

"Our goal is to really take all the work that we’ve done over all these days and hours and months and put it in a comprehensive form for them to fully understand what a four-team playoff would look like," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said before entering Wednesday's meeting to discuss college football future postseason structure.

Slive doesn't know how many models will be presented to the presidents next week in Washington D.C.

"Clearly, I'm sure there will be more than one model presented," Slive said, "but hopefully our goal coming out of here is to present a comprehensive four-team playoff model to them."

Leagues like the SEC have been set on a four-team model from the start. Slive and ACC commissioner John Swofford proposed a plus-one format to the BCS group in 2008, although their plan essentially amounted to a seeded four-team playoff. What leagues like the Big Ten and Pac-12 have discussed this time around is to have two teams selected after all bowls are played to meet for the national title.

A plus-one likely would keep the Rose Bowl more relevant, which is of chief concern to both the Big Ten and Pac-12.

Asked he could still support a plus-one at this stage, Slive smiled and said, "It'd be pretty hard for me to reverse my view after four years."

Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said that while momentum had built toward a four-team model coming out of April's BCS meetings in Florida, the plus-one came back into focus after certain commissioners (i.e. Pac-12's Larry Scott and Big Ten's Jim Delany) talked to their respective presidential groups.

"Knowing the way the principles and the occupants that have spoken," Thompson said, "not to get down to specific people, but you know who I'm talking about, people have said, 'I like this model. I've always been there.' So they're going to want to speak to that in front of their 11 peers."

Translation: the plus-one might be discussed next week just to be discussed. Or it might be used as a negotiating tool by leagues, as if to say, "Look what we're giving up here."

But it appears as though the commissioners are too far down the road to a four-team model to look back now.

"My hope," Slive said before the meeting, "is we come up with a consensus on a four-team playoff model and what it looks like."

Stay tuned.

Video: Jim Delany on selection process

June, 20, 2012
6/20/12
2:33
PM ET

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany talks about various selection tools that can be used to determine college football's postseason participants.

CHICAGO -- Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany expects to present multiple models to the BCS presidential oversight committee next week in Washington, where he expects "direction rather than closure."

"I expect we'll ... probably have more work to do," Delany told a small group of reporters before the BCS commissioners met to discuss the postseason. "If we don't, I would be surprised, but maybe we won't."

One item sure to be discussed, if a four-team playoff model is adopted within the existing bowls, is whether game sites will be predetermined or decided after the participating teams are known. A predetermined system would involve a rotation of bowls, while the other option could tie the sites to which teams participate. For example, if the SEC has the No. 1 or No. 2 team, it could play a semifinal at the Sugar Bowl. If the Big Ten or Pac-12 is the No. 1 or No. 2, it could play a semifinal at the Rose Bowl. And so on ...

Delany sees several pluses to determining the game sites ahead of time.

"Certainty always helps you in ways," Delany said. "When you know where the game is going to be played, it allows certainty for fans and for ticket distribution and for television sponsorship, all those things. The more you know that in advance, the more stable the system is."

There are also advantages to waiting, Delany said, particularly concerning geography of participants.

"You could have certainty, but if the teams are from another place, or if they're juxtaposed in a way where the team that’s maybe less accomplished is playing in somebody else's backyard, those would be some negatives," he said. "The positives are the certainty of playing. The negatives would be you don’t know what the matchup is going to be and it might be a matchup which would be much better presented in a different part of the country for a variety of reasons."

It sounds like predetermined sites has more momentum in the meeting room. The real interesting element is the rotation, how many bowls are involved and where the Rose Bowl fits in.

CHICAGO -- Greetings from the Hotel InterContinental along the Magnificent Mile, site of the latest BCS commissioners' meeting to shape college football's future postseason model.

The BCS postseason portion of the meetings takes place today between 2-6 p.m. ET. BCS executive director Bill Hancock will address the media, and several commissioners also are expected to speak.

For what it's worth, Hancock's news conference takes place in the Camelot Room, next to King Arthur's Court. I'm looking forward to Jim Delany vs. Mike Slive in the joust.

According to colleague Joe Schad, a sub-committee including several major conference commissioners met earlier today to discuss revenue sharing. It's one of the many interesting components that must be hashed out. Will revenue be based on performance, as CBSsports.com has reported? Or will it be distributed in a way to ensure no lawsuits or actions from Congress?

The big question entering today's meeting: How close is a basic model from being finalized? Answers vary depending on whom you ask. ACC commissioner John Swofford is confident, and all the commissioners felt significant progress was made at last week's meeting. On the flip side, I was told last week that it's unlikely much will be finalized next week when the BCS presidential oversight committee meets in Washington D.C. I also was told the oversight committee members want to see multiple models rather than one recommendation from the commissioners. The likely models presented: four-team playoff inside the bowls and plus-one (championship game participants selected after bowls).

We should find out more today.

The commissioners clearly are in the details stages, but the big topics aren't fully settled, including how teams are selected for a postseason model. A four-team model continues to generate the most discussion, but how they're chosen -- selection committee with guidelines, selection committee with rules, a new BCS poll/computer formula -- remains to be seen. One thing is clear: the commissioners want the new process to be more transparent than the previous one.

Colleague Mark Schlabach is here with me, and Schad will have coverage of the day on ESPN and ESPNU, so be sure and stay tuned.

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