Yeah, you know exactly where this one is headed.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, long a staunch anti-playoff proponent, has suddenly found himself at or near the forefront of a move toward revamped postseason as he, along with his fellow commissioners, attempts to position their respective conferences in the best possible way for 2014 and beyond.
One of the proposals offered for public consumption by Delany and his conference — aside from the asinine “three semifinals” embarrassment — is one that would include a four-team playoff, with participants consisting of the four highest-rated conference champs provided they were rated inside the top six at the end of the regular season. If there are fewer than four conference champs in the top six, however, Delany’s proposal would call for a “wildcard”, the highest rated team that didn’t win its conference, to fill the fourth spot.
At least as far as Delany is concerned, though, that “wildcard” would have to at least won its division and are your ears ringing Tuscaloosa…
“I don’t have a lot of regard for that team,” Delany told the Associated Press Wednesday when asked about a non-divisional winner qualifying for the revamped postseason in major college football. “I certainly wouldn’t have as much regard for that team as I would for someone who played nine conference games in a tough conference and played a couple out-of-conference games on the road against really good opponents. If a poll doesn’t honor those teams and they’re conference champions, I do.”
As is ofttimes the case when it comes to the commissioner, Delany wasn’t done.
“Some people think it should just be the top four teams; some people think it should just be the four highest-rated champions,” Delany said. “I was just floating some ideas of how you might have a hybrid where champions were respected and there was still room for at-large.
“The polls don’t always measure strength of schedule. Some conferences are playing nine games, some are playing eight. The Pac-12 is playing nine and then to go out and play a round-robin game against us, that’s 10 and some of them are going to play Notre Dame — that’s 11 difficult games. If they’re ranked fifth in the country and they won a conference championship, I think that’s quite an accomplishment. Some teams don’t even win their own division. They started off highly in the rankings, lose early, don’t play a championship game and they might end up at four.”
Hey, didn’t Alabama start off the 2011 season highly-rated? Yes they did, coming in at No. 2 in the preseason coaches’ poll. Didn’t the Tide lose (in) early (November)? Why yes they did, to SEC West rival LSU, and at home no less. Didn’t the Tide miss out on playing in a conference championship game because they didn’t even win their own division? As a matter of fact, that’s accurate as well.
Wait a minute, you don’t think Delany’s referring to Alabama’s 2011 season when he talks about not having “a lot of regard for that team”, do you?
Of course he is and there it is. Delany doesn’t have a lot of regard for what Alabama did in 2011 and, in essence, confirmed what many have suspected all along — the rematch between the Tide and LSU in the BcS title game last season played at least some type of role on some level in pushing the sport toward a revamped postseason.
Delany has it right with his idea for on-campus semifinals, but he’s dead wrong in this regard, especially with the inherent limitations of a four-team playoff. Make it simple. Take the four best teams and move on, regardless of whether two — or more — may come from that evil Southern football empire.