With only three weeks until the June 20 deadline when conference leaders hoped to have a final playoff model to sell to television executives, the time for compromise draws near. Which is why it's so interesting that the chair of the SEC's presidents and chancellors group would draw a line in the sand on one of the most controversial issues. Florida president Bernie Machen said the SEC would not compromise on having the four highest ranked teams in the playoff rather than a group of conference champions.
"We won't compromise on that," Machen said at the SEC spring meetings. "I think the public wants the top four. I think almost everybody wants the top four."
Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/andy_staples/05/31/sec.meetings/index.html#ixzz1wYPIRzPy
If Big 10 caves on this, I'll be pretty unhappy as it totally devalues the conference structure. Delany's had, in my mind, the best proposals since the beginning of this process. Home games with a preference for high ranked conference champs but still a space for at least one wild card seems the best way to introduce a playoff without destroying the meaning of the conference schedules and the regular season.
It's also interesting to see the different negotiating styles of the Big 10 vs. SEC in this process. Big 10 announces a proposal for home games and later abandons it publicly. SEC from beginning states preference for Top 4 ranked teams with no relation to conference champions, now they double down and say that it's an unconditional term for their participation. Unclear how they back off this without either losing face or saying that Machin didn't speak for the conference. This is also why the Big 10 shouldn't have abandoned the home game proposal without extracting some kind of concession.
If the SEC sticks to this plan as a condition of participation, I'd favor abandoning the playoff concept entirely and advocating a Plus 1, which would work well now that the Pac 12, Big 10, SEC, and Big 12 champs are all locked into "champion's bowls."