Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Big Ten will be big supporter of playoff
By Adam Rittenberg
The Big Ten was the last conference to say yes to the BCS. It eventually became the most public -- and often outspoken -- defender of the controversial system.
Similarly, the Big Ten didn't lead the charge for a four-team playoff. As recently as three weeks ago, the league's presidents stated they preferred the status quo or a plus-one system ahead of the increasingly popular four-team model. The Big Ten eventually fell in line with the other conferences. Two big reasons -- having semifinal games within the existing bowls and using a selection committee to pick the playoff participants -- brought the Big Ten to the table. If the Rose Bowl hadn't been accounted for and the polls and computers were still selecting the teams, the Big Ten wouldn't have agreed, plain and simple.
Now that the playoff is coming, the Big Ten will not only embrace it with open arms, but defend it as vigorously as it defended the BCS.
"We got our third priority," Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman, the Big Ten's representative on the BCS presidential oversight committee, said after Tuesday's announcement. "But there were a lot of smart people in the room, and this is the package that's put together, and we will strongly support it."
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany echoed Perlman's comments in a statement released Wednesday:
"The Big Ten Conference is pleased with the decision made by the presidential oversight committee to implement a four-team playoff for college football. We feel that this system will protect the regular season, preserve the tradition of bowl games and further enhance the Big Ten's partnership with the Pac-12 and Rose Bowl while simultaneously allowing for great innovation. It was a great day for college football student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans."
According to a league source, the Big Ten athletic directors are excited about the playoff and will support it even more than they did the BCS system.
As Brian Bennett wrote earlier today, the playoff increases access for Big Ten teams. And while a Big Ten team is sure to be left out of the top four from time to time, I wouldn't expect to hear too much complaining from Delany.
The calls for a larger playoff already have started, and they'll likely intensify after the four-team model begins, even though Tuesday's agreement takes place from 2014-2025. The Big Ten doesn't want the playoff to increase, mainly because of the potential consequences for the Rose Bowl (and most bowls, for that matter). Just a hunch here, but if the bowls go down, it won't take place on Delany's watch.
As Delany stated last week, the BCS lacked the support, both internally and publicly, to survive long term.
"My hope would be wherever we end up, the outcomes have more public acceptance," he said. "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."
The commissioners and presidents feel they have done so. A playoff is coming, and while the Big Ten had reservations about it, expect the league to be carrying the flag for years to come.