The Big Ten Conference will support a four-team postseason football playoff, albeit with conditions, commissioner Jim Delany told reporters Monday.
Acknowledging the current BCS bowl system the conference favors is likely extinct after the 2013 season, Delany said the conference will back a “transparent” playoff selection process that rewards teams with regular-season conference championships.
“Our search is to find the best four football teams,” Delany said. “However you do that typically is going to involve champions.
“The key issues are honoring champions, honoring strength of schedule, and honoring teams and coaches that try to play good schedules. “
Delany and Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman answered reporters’ questions a day after the league’s CEOs met at the Big Ten office in Park Ridge, Ill.
Both stressed allegiance to the current bowl system – while admitting they’re likely in the minority of the national postseason playoff debate.
“We have always come at this issue with some principals in mind — to preserve the tradition of the bowl system . . . and to protect the significance and outcomes of regular season and conference championship games,” Perlman said.
“Given those principals, we also recognize we have to be realistic — that we’re not the only conference that has a say in this matter. We tried to be flexible.”
Present bowl system aside, the Big Ten’s preference is a “plus-one” format in which two teams compete for a national title after bowl games have been played.
The model generating the most national buzz among conference officials, however, includes four teams. The Big Ten’s all right with that – as long as it maintains bowl traditions.
“We certainly would consider a four-team playoff inside the bowls that would preserve our connection to the Rose Bowl,” Perlman said.
How the four teams are selected is a debate that could last a while – even beyond a scheduled June 26 Washington D.C., meeting of the influential BCS presidential oversight committee.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we get something (on) June 26, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it slopped over to July or August,” Delany said. “We don’t have to take the issue to the market place until fall.”
The Big Ten wants emphasis placed on teams that fare well during the regular season, including conference championship games.
Delany said league administrators wants teams to benefit from playing comparable major-college non-conference opponents, instead of padding records with supposed inferior competition.
And he wants the four-team selection process to be transparent, throwing a giant rock at the current computer-generated manner in which BCS teams are rated and then placed in bowls.
“A computer doesn’t have an eye,” Delany said, “so an eye test is missing. If there’s an injury, it isn’t taken into consideration.
“I think everybody recognizes that the present poll system is not a good proxy. It’s flawed. It measures teams before they play a game.
“We’re open to discussion, (but) we think champions and on-field performance should matter.”
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