NCF Nation: Harvey Perlman

Nebraska's B1G payday is still coming

February, 10, 2014
Feb 10
11:00
AM ET
Nebraska has played in the Big Ten for three seasons now, but membership does not have total financial privileges.

We've known for a while that the Huskers aren't receiving a full share of league revenue until 2017. Now, thanks to some fine reporting by the Omaha World-Herald, we have a better idea of just how much Big Ten money Nebraska is receiving.

The paper reports that the school's payouts from the league totaled $14 million in its first year of membership, $15 million in Year 2 and no more than $16.9 million this year. That's about $10 million less than a full share each year.

That revenue is still much higher than the $9 million Nebraska earned in its final year of the Big 12. However, the Big 12 has since renegotiated its TV contract, and Big 12 schools received about $22 million each last year. The Huskers, in fact, made less than most schools in the power five conferences.

Compare that to Maryland, an incoming Big Ten member which will reportedly have its deal front-loaded and receive as much as $32 million from the league next year, and it seems as if Nebraska got a raw deal. But school chancellor Harvey Perlman doesn't see it that way.

“You negotiate from the position you're in,'' Perlman told the paper. “We had a conference that was falling apart.''

Indeed, the Big 12 looked like it might collapse when the Huskers fled to the Big Ten, and Nebraska was tired of that league's Texas focus, anyway. The Big Ten had all the leverage in that situation, offering Nebraska a lifeboat. Maryland, on the other hand, was firmly entrenched in the ACC, which was paying its schools a reported $20 million. The Terrapins also had major financial issues in their athletic department, and they are litigating a $52 million exit penalty from the ACC.

Nebraska made more money early on in the Big Ten deal than it would have in the Big 12, and its agreement ensured that the school would not make less money than it would have made in its former league. The big payday is still coming.

The World-Herald estimates that when Nebraska earns its full league share in 2017, that payout could be between $40 million and $50 million per school. That figure is based on league projections that include what is expected from the Big Ten's forthcoming new TV deal, which should be one of the largest ever signed by a sports league.

“This is a long-term agreement and partnership,'' Perlman said. “Even if you are just looking at the finances, you don't look at what you get the first or second year. I think we are financially advantaged by being where we are.''
LINCOLN, Neb. -- If Shawn Eichorst, the first-year athletic director at Nebraska, peers out a window from the third floor that houses his office on the towering north end of Memorial Stadium, he can almost see a figurative line drawn in the sand.

On one side stands the pro-Bo Pelini crowd.

[+] EnlargeBo Pelini
AP Photo/Gene J. PuskarWhat's in store for Bo Pelini's future at Nebraska? We'll find out soon enough.
Its members point to the sixth-year coach’s clean football program, the undeniable fight and pride and resolve present in these Huskers -- on display again Saturday as Nebraska, with its No. 3 quarterback and an offensive line decimated by injuries, beat Penn State on the road in the cold and snow of overtime.

They speak of Pelini’s improving defense, his 56 wins since 2008, the most of any coach hired that season, his excellent record in close games and how only Nebraska, Alabama, Oregon and Boise State have won nine games in each of the past five years.

The Huskers, at 8-3, can reach the mark again on Friday with a win at home over Iowa (noon ET, ABC).

On the other side lurks the anti-Bo crowd. It references the occasional blowout loss, the lack of a conference championship or BCS bowl game under Pelini, the recurring problems with turnovers and special teams and untimely penalties.

It talks of the four losses every season, recruiting missteps, a vanishing act from the national landscape and signs of general stagnation.

As the countdown reaches four days to the regular-season finale, the Pelini debate has grown red hot around Nebraska.

Factions on each side think the other is out of touch and unrealistic.

With every dramatic victory or heart-stabbing defeat, public opinion appears to sway. Really, though, the week-to-week events simply offer a revolving stage for each group to scream from the flatlands to the sandhills of this state. And loudly.

Yes, a figurative line has been drawn in the sand. It’s divisive and damaging, potentially long term, for a program whose foundation was built upon unwavering support.

Eloquent receiver Kenny Bell, who returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown against Penn State, spoke passionately in defense of his coaches last week. Offensive coordinator Tim Beck, by all accounts, grew emotional on Saturday when asked the criticism.

Among some in the media, the tone has turned angry.

Eichorst sees what is happening before him. That much we know.

Nearly all else about the law-school-trained administrator, including his stance on Pelini, remains a mystery.

Eichorst came to Nebraska from Miami last year. He wants to stay out of sight and out of mind during the season. An email request for his comment on Monday was returned with a polite acknowledgement but no hint of his plans to talk on the topic.

Meanwhile, Pelini addressed the team last Thursday as rumors circulated about his job status, assuring Nebraska players that he would not quit on them.

“That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen,” the coach said on Monday.

After the victory at Penn State, veteran running backs coach Ron Brown told the Omaha World-Herald, perhaps directed at the administration, that he sensed common traits between this team and the Huskers’ 1992 and 1993 squads that set the stage for three national titles.

Nebraska recruit Peyton Newell shared on Twitter last week a private message from defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski, encouraging Newell to “look past the noise.”

“I can tell you this bro, if I’m ever going into a fight,” Kaczenski wrote, “and I could pick one person to stand by my side -- I’m picking coach Bo.”

Pelini on Monday said he’s not discussed anything with Eichorst about the end of this season.

“I’m not coaching to save my job or anything like that,” Pelini said. “At the end of the day, I want to be here. And I want to be here if [the administration wants] me here. If somebody doesn’t want me here -- and I’m not saying Shawn doesn’t -- if they don’t want me, then I’ll move on. I’ll go on my way.

He said he likes the direction of the Nebraska program.

"I like where we are," Pelini said. "I think the future is bright. I really do."

This fan meter on Pelini, if my gauge is accurate, is close to 50-50, minus the small cluster swayed week to week by the loud arguments of the group on stage. This week, the pro-Bo crowd is making noise.

Eichorst’s silence has placed him at the center of the storm. His invisibility causes more harm than good. It’s time to talk, unless, of course, he’s planning a change, because what does he have to say in that case before this weekend?

My hunch: Eichorst, in his first year, doesn’t want the blood on his hands that this kind of controversial firing would create. And the Huskers’ unwavering spirit must count for something.

Pelini may, in fact, be out, but only if Eichorst decided in September he couldn’t work with a coach who made the comments revealed on two-year-old audio tape in which Pelini was critical of the fans and suggested he was ready to leave Nebraska.

Outwardly, Eichorst appears the sophisticated type, riding shotgun with Chancellor Harvey Perlman -- whose own lawyer persona is at odds with the often-gruff Pelini. Will it matter?

Four days and counting to the end of this debate. For the sake of this program’s stability, it can’t get here soon enough.
Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman and athletic director Shawn Eichorst issued a statement on Wednesday in support of coach Bo Pelini, saying he would not be disciplined for a profanity-filled audio recording from 2011 that became public this week.

[+] Enlargebo pelini
AP Photo/Dave WeaverNebraska's administration supports Bo Pelini saying his sideline demeanor has "significantly improved" since the rant was recorded two years ago.
The statement called the audio "unfortunate and deeply concerning to us, as they would be to anyone who loves this university." But Perlman and Eichorst said that Pelini's "demeanor has significantly improved since the time of this incident" and that they were "prepared to put the matter to rest."

That ended any speculation that Pelini might be suspended for this week's game against South Dakota State or even fired for his F-bomb rant after the 2011 win over Ohio State. And it's the right move by the school's leaders.

Pelini's outburst, in which he lashed out at Huskers fans and some local media members, was a major embarrassment to both him and the university. It also became public at a terrible time for Pelini, who was already facing criticism after the latest big loss of his tenure, the Huskers' 41-21 collapse against UCLA on Saturday. In addition, Pelini had an unfortunate public tiff with former Huskers great Tommie Frazier.

If Pelini had uttered those words last week, or done so in a public forum such as at a press conference or on his radio show, then he deserved to at least be suspended, if not outright dismissed. But that audio recording is nearly two years old, and Pelini was taped without his knowledge when he thought he was having a private conversation (and was goaded on, it sure sounded like, by a highly sympathetic audience). Moreover, Nebraska's statement on Wednesday revealed that former athletic director Tom Osborne knew about the recording more than a year ago and discussed it at that time with Pelini.

Osborne and Pelini would probably have been better served by confronting the issue head on instead of allowing it to be leaked, because it was going to come out sooner or later. And the leaker obviously timed it to create the most possible collateral damage.

Disciplining Pelini now would only have a chilling effect on coaches in the future, making them even more guarded in any type of setting than they already are. A few Big Ten coaches on Tuesday basically said they feel comfortable venting their true feelings only to their wives. To Pelini's credit, he has done a good job of changing his image from the crazed sideline screamer he was seen as a couple of years ago.

He showed lots of heart in having young cancer survivor Jack Hoffman run for a touchdown in the spring game, and he goofed around with his players in a "Harlem Shake" video this spring and a prank involving a cellphone last month. Former players like Rex Burkhead and Ndamukong Suh rushed to his defense on Twitter. And Pelini has seemed genuinely apologetic in his public comments since the audio was released, wisely not running away from the controversy but expressing remorse.

Yes, telling fans -- especially ones as loyal and dedicated as Nebraska fans -- to kiss your rear end is never a good idea in any setting. If Big Red Nation wants to punish Pelini for that, they have a simple solution: Don't show up to this week's game, or any of the next few. Voting with empty seats is the strongest tool in the fan arsenal.

The recorded rant will become a part of Pelini's narrative for the rest of his time in Lincoln. If he fails to lead the Huskers to wins in their big games in November -- Michigan State and Northwestern come to town, while Nebraska travels to Michigan -- then that audio becomes one more brick on the wrong end of the scale regarding Pelini's future. Eichorst could certainly use it as part of his justification to make a coaching change if he so chose.

But Pelini will ultimately dig out of this hole only through winning games. Disciplining him before he has a chance to do that serves very little purpose.
We don't know how much Shawn Eichorst made as Miami's athletic director because Miami, as a private institution, doesn't release salary figures.

But it's safe to assume Eichorst's salary in his new job at Nebraska will go a little further.

Nebraska announced it will pay Eichorst a base salary of $973,000, as the school's athletic director. Eichorst resigned Thursday as Miami's athletic director and will join Nebraska's staff Tuesday as a special assistant to chancellor Harvey Perlman. He'll take over the athletic director position Jan. 1 when Tom Osborne retires.

Eichorst becomes the Big Ten's third highest-paid athletic director behind Ohio State's Gene Smith (base salary: $1,074,546) and Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez (total compensation: $1,040,800), whom Eichorst served under as Wisconsin's deputy AD from 2009-11. He'll be the sixth highest-paid AD in the country.

The next highest-paid Big Ten ADs are Michigan's Dave Brandon ($700,454), Illinois' Mike Thomas ($575,000) and Purdue's Morgan Burke ($505,918).

Osborne, conversely, had been one of the lowest-paid major-conference ADs at $277,969 annually, so this is a sizable bump. Not surprisingly, Eichorst's contract also has a large buyout, beginning at $2 million for his first year.

Perlman said he interviewed two external candidates for the job. Eichorst toured Nebraska's campus last month after coming to the Midwest for the Miami-Kansas State football game. Nebraska reached out to Alvarez during the vetting process and received a strong stamp of approval.

Eichorst obviously knows the Big Ten, and Perlman said league commissioner Jim Delany is very pleased with the choice.

Nebraska will introduce Eichorst at a news conference Tuesday in Lincoln.
Tom Osborne, the face of Nebraska football and Nebraska athletics for the better part of the past 40 years, announced Wednesday he will retire Jan. 1 from his post as athletic director. Osborne, 75, will remain with the department for about six months afterward to assist in the transition to a new AD. After serving as Huskers' football coach from 1973-97, Osborne took over the athletic director duties in the fall of 2007.

Here are some notes from Wednesday's news conference in Lincoln:

  • Although Osborne talked a lot about aging during the announcement, his health wasn't a factor in his decision to step down. "I’m probably healthier today than when I was a member of Congress," he said. "No, I’m fine. I have no special issues." He noted he had double-bypass heart surgery in 1985 and has "a few wires" still left in him.
  • [+] EnlargeTom Osborne
    Bruce Thorson/US PresswireTom Osborne, 75, retiring Jan. 1, will stay with Nebraska for about six months afterward to assist in the transition to a new AD.
  • Osborne simply felt this was the right time. "At some point, whether you’re able to function or not, the perception that you’re getting old can get in the way," he said. "I don’t want to be one of those guys where everybody's walking around wringing their hands, figuring out what are we going to do with him."
  • Osborne made the decision to retire this summer and informed Perlman that he'd stay on through the football season. Perlman already has started the search for Osborne's successor, hiring noted sports executive consultant and former football coach Jed Hughes to assist him in the search.
  • Perlman already has interviewed several candidates for the position and could conduct more interviews. He's considering both internal and external candidates. The search will be out of the public eye, and Perlman has hired a 12-15 advisers (coaches, former Nebraska athletes, donors) to assist him. "I will still assist in any way I can," Osborne said, "but I'm smart enough to know not to meddle."
  • Osborne inherited a mess from former Nebraska AD Steve Pederson -- "Things were fragmented. Some people had quit, some people were thinking about quitting," he said -- and feels the culture in the athletic department has improved in the past five years. "You never know, when you’re on the inside, exactly what the perception of a program is," he said. "But I feel we're well-positioned. We've worked hard on culture, and part of that has not just been internal." Osborne added: "Whatever is accomplished here could not happen if we didn’t have a very loyal and a very unified fan base."
  • Osborne considered retiring this summer, but had hired a new men's basketball coach (Tim Miles) and several new athletics staffers, including associate athletic director Jamie Williams, a potential candidate for the AD vacancy. He also thought about "one more grab at the brass ring" with sports such as football and volleyball.
  • Osborne had no timetable in his mind when he took the job on an interim basis in 2007. "I had a grandfather who was a preacher, and he felt he should move every five years," he said. Osborne then joked, "I coached a lot longer than that. Many of you thought I maybe should have moved on after five years." Nebraska fans are glad he didn't.
  • Asked about his legacy at Nebraska, Osborne not surprisingly replied that he'd rather have others state what he accomplished.
  • Perlman on Osborne: "There are people you can admire from a distance and up close, you see all the warts. That's not true with my experience with Tom. It's been really fun to interview head coaches with him and to see the kind of national respect and awe they have of his reputation, his position in the coaching community." Perlman added that Osborne's achievements will be celebrated at a later date, calling Osborne "a treasure" to Nebraska.
  • Perlman on the school's next AD: "They have to understand the rich tradition of this department and the culture of this department, and what has made Nebraska athletics so important to the state of Nebraska. ... Fans play an important role here. Former student-athletes play an important role here. You have to be open and embracing of all the constituents."
  • Osborne said his wife, Nancy, is more approving than disapproving of his decision. But he's a little worried about the future. "She keeps reminding me that the garage has not been cleaned in three years," he said. "I can see a whole list of things popping up."

It's truly the end of an era at Nebraska. More to come ...

Podcast: Perlman on playoff

June, 28, 2012
6/28/12
4:49
PM ET
Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman says a college football playoff isn't his first choice but it's a well thought out plan. Dr. Perlman elaborates on his concerns for athletes, scheduling, and expansion. He discusses Nebraska's reaction.
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.

BCS presidents meeting primer

June, 25, 2012
6/25/12
7:30
PM ET


The BCS presidential oversight committee meets Tuesday afternoon in Washington, D.C., to discuss college football's future postseason. The 12 presidents will hear from the FBS commissioners who last week endorsed a seeded four-team playoff beginning in 2014, which would have semifinals at bowl sites and bid out the championship game nationally. The commissioners are expected to present multiple models and discuss the evolution of their discussion, which came to a head last week in Chicago. Although the commissioners are unified, they’ve made it clear the presidents have the final say here.

The oversight committee begins its meetings at 3 p.m. ET, and, although initially scheduled to last four hours, the session likely will last well into Tuesday night.

To get you prepared for a long day and night, here's a primer in question-and-answer form:

What action will the presidents take Tuesday?

It's likely they'll approve the four-team playoff model endorsed by the commissioners. ESPN.com has learned that the two most evolved elements of the playoff are the basic four-team model and the use of a selection committee to determine the four teams. Two elements that still must be discussed further and likely won't be resolved Tuesday: understanding playoff access and revenue distribution. Although there's an agreement in principle among the commissioners for how the revenue should be divided, the presidents want to have a thorough discussion on this topic.

What elements unified the commissioners in Chicago?

The two big ones were the selection committee and having the semifinals played inside the bowl system. Commissioners who have chaired the NCAA men's basketball tournament selection committee -- such as the SEC's Mike Slive, the Big Ten's Jim Delany and the Big 12's Bob Bowlsby -- strongly advocated for a committee, and others, such as the Pac-12's Larry Scott, warmed up to the idea. They see the committee as more transparent, more rational and having fewer conflicts of interest than the current polls used in the BCS formula.

The commissioners emerged from their April meetings in Hollywood, Fla., with two models: a four-team playoff inside the bowls and a four-team playoff at neutral sites outside the bowls. ESPN.com has learned that three leagues -- the SEC, Big 12 and Conference USA -- advocated neutral sites for semifinal games, which likely would bring in more revenue but devalue the top bowl games. The Big Ten and Pac-12 didn't want to see the Rose Bowl drop down several notches (think NIT) and endanger the other bowls. This was a deal-breaker, and it eventually pushed the group toward an inside-the-bowls model.

How will the model work inside the bowls and with access?

It's very likely that five or six bowls, not just the four BCS bowls, will be part of the playoff structure. There will be the familiar four -- Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta -- as well as one or two yet-to-be-determined bowls (Cotton, Capital One, etc.). Although the commissioners spent a lot of time discussing an anchor plan in which the No. 1 and No. 2 playoff participants would play at regional sites, they determined it would be too difficult because of television sponsorships, ticket distribution and other factors. So the semifinal games will be predetermined and will rotate among the bowls. For example, if the TV contract is for 12 years and the rotation includes six bowls, each site could host a semifinal four times.

The selection committee could end up selecting participants for more than just the four-team playoff, especially because the additional bowls will provide access for champions from smaller conferences. The same guidelines applied to selecting the playoff participants – strength of schedule, valuing conference championships -- also will be used to determine who appears in some of the additional bowls. For example, if the Mountain West champion and the Big Ten's No. 2 team have comparable profiles, including strength of schedule, and are ranked 12th and 13th, the Mountain West champion likely would get the nod to a big bowl because of its championship.

Although there will be access for smaller-conference champions, the bowls that have contracts with certain leagues will continue to feature teams from those leagues. If the Rose Bowl isn't a national semifinal and loses the Pac-12 and/or Big Ten champion to a semifinal game, the replacement or replacements will be Pac-12 and Big Ten teams. The only way the Rose Bowl will feature teams not from the Big Ten or Pac-12 is if it's a semifinal.

How much traction does the plus-one model have?

None. It will be discussed Tuesday because the presidents want to look at multiple models, but everyone is so far down the road toward a four-team playoff that it's highly unlikely anyone heading that way will turn back. Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman, a playoff opponent who prefers the status quo and a plus-one over a four-team playoff -- as do the Big Ten colleagues he represents and some Pac-12 presidents -- will have his say, but he also understands where this is headed. Perlman realizes he can't be Mr. Davis in "12 Angry Men" and sway everyone else in the room.

How would the selection committee operate?

The group will have certain guidelines for selection, such as valuing strength of schedule and conference championships. There are no hard-and-fast rules, but these guidelines will help break ties. Expect the committee to be about 15 members and to meet throughout the season. It's unclear who will serve on it, although former coaches as well as school and league administrators are the likeliest candidates.

According to a source, the committee could reveal a poll midway through the season to let the public know where things stand with certain teams. Such a poll likely would debut around the time the initial BCS standings do (Week 8 or so).

When would the playoffs take place?

The five or six bowls in the playoff rotation likely will take place around Jan. 1. The Rose Bowl will keep its traditional New Year's Day afternoon time slot, whether or not it's a national semifinal. A new contract for the Rose Bowl is expected this week and will last through the 2026 game. The Rose Bowl contract always has been completed before the BCS contract.

We could end up seeing three of the bowls take place Dec. 31 and the other three, including the Rose, on Jan. 1. The championship game then would take place about 10 days later.

Colleagues Mark Schlabach and Heather Dinich will be in D.C. for the presidential oversight committee meeting, so be sure to check in with ESPN.com throughout Tuesday afternoon and night.
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.

The Big Ten wants you to know that it doesn't really have a burning desire to participate in a college football playoff, but it will begrudgingly go along with the masses. And all that saber-rattling about conference champions vs. the four "best" teams? The league is on board with picking the four best, as long as you acknowledge that no system can guarantee that result.

Those were the two main takeaways from Monday's Big Ten conference call, when commissioner Jim Delany and Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman explained the consensus reached by the league's presidents and chancellors after Sunday's meeting. Perlman painted the conference presidents as traditionalists who preferred to keep the current BCS system first and an incremental"plus-one" playoff model second. While Delany later said the "plus-one" idea -- where the two national finalists would be selected after all the bowls were played -- was still very much on the table, it sure sounds as if the Big Ten will reluctantly go along with the four-team playoff crowd.

[+] EnlargeJim Delany
AP Photo/Nati HarnikJim Delany and the Big Ten are pushing for a selection committee to choose the four semifinalists for any potential playoff format.
"We recognize that we needed to be realistic," Perlman said. "We're not the only conference that has had a say in this matter."

Perlman said the current BCS system is "in many respects, about as good as you could do," while Delany added that none of the Big Ten presidents, athletic directors or coaches is pushing for any kind of playoff. Yet they then went on to roundly criticize polls and the methodology for selecting teams for the championship, which is the main basis for the BCS system.

"A computer doesn't have an eye," Delany said. "So an eye test is missing if there is an injury" or other issues with a contender. Delany also said the impetus for change is that the BCS "has been battered and criticized" and treated "like a piñata" for the past 15 years. So to reiterate: The Big Ten's No. 1 preference would be to keep a current system that everybody hates and which uses a totally bankrupt formula to select its teams. Gotcha.

But to be fair, the league is hardly standing in the way of a four-team playoff, and this after being viewed for years as being one of the sport's main postseason obstructionists. Delany has absorbed widespread catcalls from misinformed people and SEC figureheads who accused him of trying to tilt the process toward his favor by demanding only conference champions -- even though he never really said that. On Monday, Delany said this point-blank: "I totally agree we should have the four best teams." Perhaps that will placate the SEC loudmouths who couldn't pull themselves away from Chick-Fil-A long enough to bother reading the actual specifics of what the Big Ten proposed.

Yet Delany also -- and rightly -- noted there's no quantitative or foolproof way to select those four best teams. He said, "The what and the how are a more challenging situation than the model you select." Everyone who has bashed the Big Ten of late ought to applaud the league's push for a selection committee to choose the four semifinalists, thus eliminating the corrupt polls and flawed computer formulas from the equation. That's the fairest and best way to come up with the field, though it's far from perfect.

"It's easy to say you want the top four teams," Perlman said, "but defining the top four teams is not something that can be done mathematically."

But the important point is that the Big Ten is not going to stand in the way of a four-team playoff, even if it has to be dragged kicking and screaming down that road.

Some other notes from today's call:

-- SEC officials drew a line in the sand last week, with Florida president Bernie Machen ridiculously ranting that "we won't compromise" about having the top four in the playoff. Some in the South also took thinly veiled shots at Delany. The Big Ten commissioner didn't fire back and insisted that everybody "was taking the high road" during playoff discussions between the conferences.

"When you're working with groups of people, sometimes you can't have your cake and eat it, too," he said. "That's what compromise is about, and you try to avoid demands. I would say one of the reasons we have a chance of coming together is that not everybody is trying to have their cake and eat it, too. And not everybody is making demands."

-- The Big Ten quickly gave up on the idea of campus sites for semifinals, and Delany said there were some practical problems with that plan. As an example, he pointed out the difficulty of fans and media getting hotel rooms in State College, Pa., compared New Orleans. Delany said he saw having semifinal games outside the current bowl structure as a "slippery slope" away from the collegiate model, though he acknowledged some of the inherent weaknesses and corruption among the bowls.

When I asked him if he had the same concerns about a national title site, Delany said he had no problem if that game were bid out to sites that don't necessarily have bowls. He said it should be a "national game" available to all regions of the country.

As for the potential difficulty of fans traveling to semifinal and final games out of their home areas (not to mention conference title games), Delany's answer was, basically, "Well, you asked for it."

"If we were really concerned about fan travel, then maybe we'd play 14 games, not 15," he said. "But we're responding to fans who'd like to see an additional game."
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and the league's presidents and chancellors left their sand bags, stone tablets and megaphones at home Sunday.

Unlike the SEC, the Big Ten likely won't emerge from its presidents' meeting drawing lines and making bold, rigid statements about a college football playoff. All indications are there will be no official position when Delany, University of Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman and Indiana University president Michael McRobbie address reporters Monday morning. The Big Ten brass will narrow down its ideas and desires, but it welcomes more dialogue during the rest of June, when three key meetings take place -- June 13 (BCS) and June 19-20 (all NCAA Division I commissioners) in Chicago, and June 26 (BCS presidential oversight committee) in Washington -- that should shape the postseason model.

Big Ten officials are well aware that making bold statements during an ongoing negotiation can end up backfiring, and unlike the SEC, they don't want to go there. University of Florida president Bernie Machen, a member of the presidential oversight committee alongside Perlman, said last week that the SEC "won't compromise" on the best four teams model, and that the Big Ten has "got to get real."

The Big Ten has taken a measured approach since May 17, 2011, when it first discussed a new postseason model with its football coaches at the spring meetings in Chicago. The league went into the process with two objectives: be open to outcome and protect the Rose Bowl as much as possible. That's it.

Since that initial discussion, the Big Ten has had more than 50 playoff meetings and conference calls, both internally and externally with other leagues, bowl officials and the like. Aside from needing to protect the Rose Bowl partnership, the Big Ten hasn't taken a firm position, which has created mixed messages and confusion outside the conference. But no doors have been closed.

There's support in the Big Ten for a playoff model that includes the top three rated conference champions -- as long as they're rated in the top 6 -- and a wild card spot for a worthy non-champion or independent like No. 2 Alabama last season. The league views this model as the closest to the playoff models used in professional sports.

As SI.com's Stewart Mandel pointed out last week:
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.

Still, the Big Ten isn't completely wedded to the "three-and-one" concept.

This much is known: the Big Ten strongly favors a selection committee to determine the playoff participants. Eliminate bogus polls. Eliminate most if not all the computer rankings. Assemble a group of senior officials with strong representation throughout college football who meet and decide the four teams.

Bottom line: the human element should be paramount.

The league wants the committee to enter its deliberations with some instructions, much like a jury has during a trial. The Big Ten wants the committee to value league championships, head-to-head results and strength of schedule, much like the NCAA men's basketball tournament selection committee does. The committee wouldn't write off non-champions or non-division winners, but those shortcomings would impact a team's résumé or potential tiebreakers between two teams.

One big question: Would the committee enter the room with a clear directive (i.e. pick the top three league champions and one wild card) or suggested guidelines?

While some Big Ten teams have been criticized for soft nonconference scheduling in years past, the league, like others, is adamant that schedule strength be a huge factor in determining playoff participants. The "best four teams" model, which sounds great in principle, could allow teams to live on their league's past reputation and avoid scheduling tough nonconference foes. That is, unless a selection committee could penalize a team for having a soft slate. Locking in some conference champions would encourage teams to challenge themselves outside their conference and not be penalized for it.

In other words, last year's Oregon squad wouldn't pay the price for opening its season with a loss to LSU, winning the Pac-12, crushing Stanford at Stanford Stadium but slipping behind Stanford in the final BCS standings because of a late-season loss to USC. Oregon's league championship would take precedence in the final evaluation.

No league should want its champion left out of a playoff in favor of a team it outclassed between the lines. Again, this isn't about No. 2 vs. No. 6, where the separation is clear. It's about No. 4 vs. No. 5.

Other items you should know:
  • While the initial model could be decided by the end of June, some important elements might not be determined until the fall, when the BCS begins television negotiations.
  • Although there's some support for a "plus-one" model among Big Ten and Pac-12 presidents, it still seems likelier they adopt a true four-team playoff.
  • TV likely will have less influence on the playoff model than many believe. The TV folks want great games, and none of the models being discussed would impede this.

We'll have more on the playoff topic and more after Delany, Perlman and McRobbie talk with reporters, so stay tuned.
They still don't get it.

As the pivotal month for college football's postseason structure kicks off, the Big Ten's position on a four-team playoff remains a mystery for many. The SEC folks don't understand it, and it clearly hasn't sunk in for others. Colleague Chris Low of the SEC blog fired up his base and fired back at me and all "city slickers" Thursday, while ignoring my main point that folks aren't understanding the Big Ten's actual playoff preference -- a hybrid model featuring the top three rated conference champions and one wild card for a deserving non-champion or independent.

[+] EnlargeJim Delany
AP Photo/Dave WeaverJim Delany and the Big Ten want a playoff featuring the top three rated conference champs and a wild card for a deserving non-champion or independent.
Many are setting the stage for an SEC-Big Ten playoff proposal showdown -- Slive vs. Delany! South vs. North! Right vs. Wrong! -- while only getting one side of the story correct. One national columnist wrote Thursday night that the Big Ten still is adamant about having conference champions only and having semifinals at campus sites.

To be fair, a lot of the continued confusion about the Big Ten stems from the league sending mixed messages throughout the process.

First, the Big Ten was all about campus sites and conference champions. Then, league brass talked about preserving the Rose Bowl at all costs and seemed to give up on the campus sites push, citing weak support nationally.

We hear about how the Big Ten plays virtual road games in bowls. Then you get Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith saying "good weather is important" for playoff games, and Michigan AD Dave Brandon saying he opposes playoff games at indoor venues in the Midwest, which would make travel easier for Big Ten fans. The comments came at the same meetings where Delany confirmed the Big Ten is interested in playing a bowl game at New York's Yankee Stadium.

The Big Ten's shift from "campus sites are awesome!" to "save the Rose Bowl!" left many shaking their heads. Even though campus sites likely was a losing battle, the Big Ten would have earned more points by standing its ground and keeping the fight going longer. The league's Rose Bowl love isn't new, but it resonates with fewer and fewer people nationally. It's a tired argument and a hard sell.

Then you had Delany's infamous "that team" comment to the Associated Press, when he appeared to take a shot at non-division winners in a playoff -- and specifically reigning national champion Alabama. The next week, Delany said he wasn't targeting the Tide and preferred a system that rewarded the best conference champions but also had room for a team like Alabama. But the damage was done.

You also had Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman, a member of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, telling me he and many of his colleagues in the Big Ten and Pac-12 favor a plus-one playoff format. But the plus-one was barely mentioned at the Big Ten spring meetings.

The Big Ten hasn't remained on message throughout this process, and its position has suffered as a result.

The SEC, meanwhile, has had a clear position that it repeats whenever possible: best four teams, bowl sites for the semifinals. End of story.

And the SEC isn't budging.

"We won't compromise on that," University of Florida president Bernie Machen said this week at the league's spring meetings. "I think the public wants the top four. I think almost everybody wants the top four."

Machen also took a shot at the Big Ten, telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "The group that's got to get real, the Big Ten's got to realize that the world is going in a different direction."

The Big Ten presidents and chancellors meet Sunday at league headquarters. They need to emerge from the meeting with a clear consensus of what they want for a playoff. Important meetings take place June 13 and June 20 in Chicago, and the Big Ten needs its voice to be heard with no confusion.

The Big Ten doesn't appear to be in a position of strength, and the biggest reason is the continued failure of its teams to win national championships. But there's still time to influence the playoff model.

No more mixed messages. It's time for a united front.
CHICAGO -- When the college football playoff push kicked off, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith planted himself in the campus-sites camp.

Smith favored having the semifinals on the campuses of the higher-seeded teams. The setup would give Big Ten teams like Ohio State an advantage they've never enjoyed in the current BCS/bowl setup -- nationally significant games on Midwest soil in late December or early January. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany was among the first major college football figures to stump for campus sites this winter.

"We've shifted," Smith told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "I was originally for campus sites, and I still go back there mentally every now and then as discussions occur, but the bowls have a really good system set up to host."

The reasons for the Big Ten's shift are well known by now. Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne said Tuesday that a playoff outside of the existing bowls would "pretty much destroy the bowl system." Preserving and protecting the Rose Bowl is paramount to Delany and the rest of the Big Ten brass.

Smith also thinks there are operational advantages to keeping the biggest games at bowl sites.

"There are certain schools that would put it on and host it extremely well," he said. "Others might be challenged with that. Bowls have done this a long time. They have great local organizing committees. ... And it's good for the game."

The strongest counterargument is that campus sites would ease the burden on college football fans. Rather than make separate trips for a league title game, a national semifinal and a national championship game, fans of some teams could have one of those games closer to their homes.

Another apparent plus for Big Ten backers is the potential weather advantage Big Ten teams could exploit by hosting games. Unlike squads in the South and West, Big Ten teams are conditioned to play cold-weather football, but they typically face the best from the SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12 in ideal conditions at places like the Rose Bowl, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and University of Phoenix Stadium.

The thought of a college football playoff in the snow is both novel and exciting to some Big Ten fans. But Smith actually sees it as a drawback.

Brace yourselves, Woody and Bo ...

"Let's say Ohio State is hosting and it's January or December, and let's say it is 5 degrees," Smith said. "Is that right for the game? We're not pro. We need to figure out what's best for the game, and I think a fast surface, good weather is important for the game. It's important for the kids."

Delany, Osborne and others acknowledge that campus sites could favor the Big Ten, which hasn't won a national championship since after the 2002 season. But in surveying presidents, athletic directors, coaches and even players, the overwhelming majority favored the bowl sites.

"It would be a competitive advantage to have semifinal games at home fields," Osborne said. "... but the bowls have been good to us."

The sentiment isn't sitting well with some folks. The Big Ten might have been alone in advocating for campus sites, but it's fair to ask if the Big Ten gave up on the crusade far too easily.

Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel writes today:
Somewhere Mike Slive of the SEC and Larry Scott of the Pac-12 are kicking back with a cackle of delight. These guys are angling for every possible edge while the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl sit in adjacent bathtubs, holding hands and waiting for the moment to be right.
Wait, the rest of college football has to be asking, you're not even going to fight and try to make us look like wimps for arguing against football in the cold?
Wait, you seriously are going to ask the same fan base to travel three times in a month -- Big Ten title game, semifinals and championship game, the last two at least via airplane? And you think we won't end up with the majority of the crowd?
The Rose Bowl's power over the Big Ten is something to behold. It makes normally intelligent men say ridiculous things.

Of the Big Ten groups advocating for playoffs at bowl sites, the coaches' position makes the least sense. These are guys who typically capitalize on every possible advantage presented to them. But they seem to value their players' bowl experience over the possibility of making Alabama or USC play them in the snow.

Why should the Big Ten care if TCU and Oregon have small stadiums and can't accommodate the media and the corporate sponsors? The Big Ten, for the most part, doesn't have those problems.

In my recent interview with Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman, I asked him why so many powerful people in the Midwest care so much about bowl games located so far away.

"It's part of the tradition of college football," Perlman said. "It is a good experience for student-athletes. It makes more sense in terms of ending the season than some kind of playoff. It helps the communities that have been supportive of intercollegiate football for a long time."

What about the local communities Big Ten schools can serve by keeping games on campus?

Wetzel writes:
There's no question Big Ten fans love the Rose Bowl, although not as much as they once did. They also like to win, also would like to shut the SEC up and also really like showing off their legendary stadiums and great cities, fighting against the idea that they live in some inhospitable, rusted-out region.
Plenty of them could use the economic impact of staging these massive events in the Midwest too.

That's not going to happen. The campus-sites ship has sailed. Perhaps it's a tradeoff the Big Ten made to ultimately ensure strong playoff access for league champions.

If and when the Big Ten champion qualifies for a playoff, however, it will more than likely play a virtual road game. The team will have to fight like heck to win.

A lot harder than the league did to have meaningful games on campus.
The sense coming out of last week's BCS meetings is that college football soon will adopt a four-team playoff model with two designated semifinals and a championship game.

But don't count out the so-called "plus-one," where the top two teams are selected after the bowl games and face one another for the national championship about a week later.

The plus-one is still very much alive, University of Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman told ESPN.com on Thursday. Perlman, who serves on the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, said that during informal discussions between Big Ten and Pac-12 presidents and chancellors, the plus-one model has the most support.

"It is clear the presidents will still make the final decision," Perlman told ESPN.com "We've had some informal meetings, the Big Ten presidents and the Pac-12 presidents, and I think we're largely aligned in thinking a plus-one with a different ranking after the bowl games to select No. 1 and 2 would be acceptable. Our second choice would probably be a four-team playoff inside the bowls. Our highest priority is to preserve the status of the Rose Bowl and our connection to it."

He later added: "I don't think we would be very enthusiastic about any of the other options."

That includes a proposal to have semifinal games played on campus, which Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has supported. The plan seemed to lose steam last week at the BCS meetings in Florida, but SI.com reported Monday that it remains on the table.

"I don't think that's acceptable to us at this point," Perlman said of the campus-sites plan. "There would be some advantages to the Big Ten in doing it that way, but the end result would be that the bowl system and the Rose Bowl would be kind of like the NIT in basketball. If you have a playoff system outside the bowls, it would do serious damage to the bowls. ... I don't think anybody would pay attention to the bowls."

Perlman has long opposed a college football playoff and hasn't changed his position, saying Thursday, "I can't figure out a good reason to have a playoff to start with." But like many, he acknowledges changes will be made, and in his view, the plus-one is the simplest option and the best option. It preserves the bowl system and keeps player welfare in mind.

"We play enough football games," he said.

Some more notes from my conversation with the Nebraska chancellor:
  • The selection for a plus-one or a four-team playoff is tricky, and Perlman has no preferred model because, in his view, there isn't one. "If you don't like computers, then you'll think it's wrong," he said. "If you don't like committees, you'll think it's wrong. I think we'll just pick one, the system that seems to have the most fan confidence, and use it. I don't think it's possible to pick the two best teams in the country to play. In football, that just doesn't work."
  • Any type of change to the postseason structure increases the burden for fans. "I don't think it's overblown," he said. "That's one of the reasons why I've never been in favor of a playoff to start with. In order to be successful, it would have to become kind of a corporate event, rather than a school event. While we'd probably do well, given the television revenues, I don't know that it's a favorite of the fans of the schools who participate."
  • Nebraska fans and some local media members don't seem as enthralled by the Rose Bowl as those in other parts of the Big Ten. But Perlman certainly falls in line with the view shared by Delany and the other Big Ten presidents and chancellors. Here's what he said when asked about the potential of having nationally significant games in or close to the Big Ten footprint at neutral sites: "If the last game was bid out, it would certainly be advantageous for us. But on the other hand, would Nebraska fans, in the first week in January, rather travel to Pasadena or Indianapolis? There clearly is a competitive advantage if you're playing in the Rose Bowl against a Pac-12 team, or if you're playing in the Sugar Bowl against LSU or in the Orange Bowl against Florida. But so what? It’s a bowl game. That's just the lay of the land."
  • Although his playoff stance hasn't changed, he thinks elements of the BCS can be improved, such as the elimination of the automatic-qualifying status which has "created incentives for some pretty strange conference realignments that wouldn't have taken place otherwise." Like Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne, Perlman favors a system that creates better matchups in the major bowls and eliminates some of the clunkers we've seen recently. "With some tweaks," Perlman said, "you could create a series of games in five or six bowls that would be compelling, and would possibly end up producing a No. 1 or a No. 2 team."
  • Perlman favors a model that reclaims New Year's Day but ends before the start of the winter academic term. He also supports the proposal to give conference champions the most consideration for the title game or the semifinals. "You ought to be able to win your conference to be a national champion," he said.

While many of you disagree with Perlman's view, as do I, he deserves credit for actually speaking up about this topic. Brian Bennett and I reached out to more than half the Big Ten's presidents and chancellors for interviews and were repeatedly turned down.

The Big Ten presidents hold their annual spring meeting June 3 at league headquarters, and the Collegiate Commissioners Association meets June 20 in Chicago.

"At some point, the commissioners will make a recommendation or a series of recommendations to us," Perlman said, "and we will meet and make the [final] decision hopefully before July 1."
INDIANAPOLIS -- Rules violations and reform have been the key buzz words in the college football offseason. Now it's time to see if more talk can produce any substantial change.

A group of more than 50 university presidents, plus a handful of athletic directors, conference commissioners and other officials convene this afternoon in Indianapolis for a two-day retreat to discuss how to reform college sports. The issues that are officially on the agenda are fiscal sustainability, academic performance of student-athletes and integrity.

"I don't want to be melodramatic, but this meeting is very important," NCAA president Mark Emmert told ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil. "We do have serious challenges, and we do need to make some serious reforms. I don't think there is any debate about that. I want us to be able to build a consensus around those things that are most important for the NCAA to pay attention to and then address those things quickly."

Here are the Big Ten representatives at this week's retreat:
  • Gordon Gee, Ohio State president
  • Michael McRobbie, Indiana president
  • Harvey Perlman, Nebraska chancellor
  • Lou Anna Simon, Michigan State president
  • Graham Spanier, Penn State president
  • Jo Potuto, Nebraska faculty athletic representative, Nebraska

Gee will be spending a lot of time in Indy this week; Ohio State's case before the infractions committee will be held here on Friday.

The key question from this whole retreat will be whether the group comes up with specific recommendations and changes, or if like many university and NCAA endeavors, it simply leads to more reports and committees. The Big Ten, led by commissioner Jim Delany, has been out front in the call for changes to NCAA rules and practices, including cost-of-attendance increases to athletic scholarships. The league has some powerful people at the retreat to push forward those ideas.

I'll be here for both days and reporting on the developments. Stay tuned.

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