While we here at CFT were on the proverbial Cloud Nine over the announcement late last month that a four-team playoff had been “approved”, there was one nagging reality that we simply couldn’t shake: the leaders of the sport will somehow, some way, find a way to screw it up.
And, unfortunately, it appears that’s exactly what a couple of the power conferences in the game seem hellbent on accomplishing.
In an interview with ESPN.com Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg, Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman made it clear that it is the presidents and chancellors of the schools in their conferences, and not the commissioners who are seemingly in favor of a four-team playoff, who will decide what shape the postseason will take in 2014 and beyond. And, it appears, Perlman’s conference along with its sister conference the Pac-12 are taking the lead on making a mess of what progress has been made the past few months.
“It is clear the presidents will still make the final decision,” Perlman, who’s also an influential member of the BcS Presidential Oversight Committee, told the website. “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.”
Well, isn’t that just precious.
So, the Big Ten’s and Pac-12’s idea for change, at least through one man’s point of view, is to merely tack on a game at the end of bowl season and declare all is well with major college football’s antiquated postseason?
The fact that Perlman is taking the public lead on what’s essentially an anti-playoff stance is far from surprising. Long an opponent of any type of playoff at this level, Perlman has testified in front of Congress in support of the BcS and against a playoff.
“What I think most people don’t understand is that the alternative to the current system is not a playoff,” Perlman said in July of 2009, shortly before he appeared at the Senate hearing. ”The alternative to the BCS is going back to our traditional relationship with our bowl partners.”
That was a hollow threat that never was going to come to fruition. Perlman, though, armed with the threat of a plus-one, is still struggling to understand the need for a playoff.
“I can’t figure out a good reason to have a playoff to start with,” the chancellor said.
If people like Perlman haven’t figured that out by now, this whole playoff thing may indeed be DOA. Hopefully, influential commissioners such as Mike Slive, Larry Scott and even Jim Delany, who appears to be coming around to the general idea of a four-team playoff, can interject some common sense into the meetings with their bosses in the coming weeks.
An even better proposition? Perlman was speaking out of turn and is one of the lone voices in the Big Ten and Pac-12 espousing “change” that’s anything but.