Big Ten, Pac-12 athletic directors endorse limited CFB playoff

Submitted by oakapple on August 13th, 2011 at 8:30 AM

Athletic directors of the newly expanded Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences found consensus on a "plus-one" football national-championship proposal at meetings early this week that could signal movement toward a revamped Bowl Championship Series. [Link]

This is significant, because the Big Ten and Pac-12 have always staunchly opposed any kind of playoff, even one as limited as this. Although the details could change, some version of it will surely be implemented, if the two conferences remain in favor. It probably would have happened long ago, if they hadn’t been so adamant in their opposition.

Under the proposal, the top four teams in the BCS standings would be seeded into “semi-final” games, which the BCS bowls would host on a rotating basis. A championship game would be played the following week. January 2015 is apparently the earliest it could happen, when the BCS will have a new TV contract.

The Rose Bowl would be part of the championship rotation, but it would not host semi-finial games, so that it could continue its tradition of hosting a Big Ten team vs. a Pac-12 team. It is not clear how this would work, however, as in most years at least one of the two conferences would have a team rated high enough to make the semi-final. It is hard to imagine the Rose Bowl signing up permanently for a match-up of second-bests.

This is the next logical step for college football, bearing in mind that the athletic directors and presidents remain opposed to a full-bore NFL-style playoff. It’s also a system that would eliminate the worst inequities of the BCS, such as the years when there are three major-conference undefeated teams, and a formula decides which one to eliminate. It is the rare year that there are more than four teams with a legitimate claim that they belong in the championship game.

Obviously, no matter how big your playoff, somebody gets left behind. The NCAA basketball tournament admits 68 teams, and there is always a 69th on the bubble. But a “plus one” system is more than good enough to handle the situation we have today, where a USC or Auburn rips through the regular season undefeated, and then inexplicably doesn’t even get to contest the championship.



August 13th, 2011 at 8:42 AM ^

Any move away from the BCS is a good one, IMHO. This is particularly good news when you take into consideration the fact that it was the B10 and Pac-10/12 commissioners who were among the most vocal and most influential (turns out the Rose Bowl's pretty valuable after all) against even this plus-one idea.


August 13th, 2011 at 8:59 AM ^

I like the idea of a "dark horse" being able to muscle into the tournament field. Depending on the teams in the running, it would make for an interesting tournament.


August 13th, 2011 at 9:04 AM ^

This is great! I would love to see a 16-team playoff but you need baby steps first.

Ratings would be through the roof if the first plus-one semi-finals games featured Michigan, Texas, USC, and Alabama.

Philip A. Duey

August 13th, 2011 at 9:08 AM ^

I had something like this in mind:

Orange-Semifinal (New Year's)
Sugar-Semifinal (New Year's)
Fiesta-Other BCS matchup (New Year's)

The bowls would rotate, so the year after hosting the NC game, a given bowl would drop down to the "other" matchup (but would get first choice at teams that didn't make the Final Four).  Thus each bowl would get two consecutive years hosting a semifinal, the national championship, and the "other" matchup. The NC would be played a week after the semifinals, just as the current BCS championship game is played a week (or more) after New Year's.

The addition of the Cotton Bowl is a good idea, and I appreciate the fact that they're trying to maintain the B1G/Pac-12 matchup in the Rose Bowl.  I'm glad that the heretofore stick-in-the-mud conferences' ADs have finally seen the wisdom in a rotating system through the premier bowls and a plus-one that I semi-formulated in jr. high.


August 13th, 2011 at 9:10 AM ^

It's the Big Ten and Pac 12 that have stonewalled this forever; it would be huge if they were "in" on a four-team playoff.  They really need eight, but four is a great "gateway drug."  After they do four, the next step would be a "play-in round" of eight the week before bowls are officially announced.  

Of course, with the aforementioned superconferences, the four championship games would be a de facto play-in round of eight.  This might make the major independents and teams like Boise State want to join one of the conferences soon.  It also might leave Texas scrambling after they finish their financial dismantling of the Big 12.  



August 13th, 2011 at 9:13 AM ^

An improvement competitively. Also an acknowledgement by a couple big conferences that the current system is bleeding post-season red ink for many of their schools. The fact that everyone isn't making major money off the post season is a complete joke.  Make no mistake the goal of the big conferences is a super division of elite college football conferences. They'll do an even larger playoff at that point.  Their opposition to a playoff has always been about power maintenance through their monopoly, not academics or any of that.

The problem in the idea discussed in this article is it still leaves the current system open to attacks from lawmakers nationwide. Their beef is that the system is weighted towards inclusion of certain conferences and exclusion of everyone else.  You can't have some NCAA member schools stealing the post-season pie while smaller conferences have member schools dip into taxpayer money to keep their athletic departments solvent.  

The end game for the big conferences:

--4 super conferences,

--the ability to still play teams outside of those super conferences during the regular season, while legally excluding them from participating or sharing in playoff revenue (good luck with that one)

--maintenenance of a bowl system that they can still sell to a more sophisticated public as meaningful.  This would serve to protect the interests of ADs and coaches who love the security of being able to talk up a mediocre season as successful by shuffling off to some bowl game.

--a playoff of anywhere from 8 to 16 teams which only includes the 75 or so teams from the super conferences as potential participants

I don't believe it will ever happen without massive legal scrutiny. A playoff system beyond what we have now has to fairly include the possibility for all Division 1A teams to participate at the start of the season, or lawmakers will drop bomb after bomb upon it.   

The big conferences fight a playoff that includes a pool of everyone because once you start that open playoff format, you can't dial it back. All the BCS is, is a feeble attempt by the big conference cartel to squeeze some of that money out of the postseason the old bowl system couldn't. It is still a dud economically. It is very likely that when the new TV contract is negotiated, the only "BCS bowl" that will fetch a higher rights fee is the championship. There is no big interest in the other non-deciding bowls outside of the Rose. That's why you are hearing about expansion of the current system. TV is only willing to pay for truly meaningful games because that's all fans actually care about.

A division 1A 1- team playoff featuring all conference champions and a handful of at large teams is what we need.



Top dog 4578

August 13th, 2011 at 9:45 AM ^

Any step closer to a playoff is good..I still like the idea of making the bowls the brackets ..Maybe take the top 10 teams and switch the championship bowl around every year..


August 13th, 2011 at 10:14 AM ^

I've heard that the main reason school presidents haven't been for the switch is that the NCAA controls the legal rights to a playoff and therefore the money.  The bowls are currently in charge of the money and football post season.

The NCAA run basketball tournament gives out a small percentage of cash to the schools compared to the bowl game system.  In fact, just 3 of the 5 yearly BCS bowls give out more cash to schools than the entire 68 team basketball tournament combined.  There is a fear that schools will lose more money with the NCAA in charge of a football postseason.

People also fail to realize that as bad as the BCS has been labeled for its lack of a playoff and matchups it has dramatically increased $ for all football schools - it gives money to all Divisions and all conferences, yes the BCS even gives money to Division III football somethign the bowls weren't doing before the BCS.


August 13th, 2011 at 10:53 AM ^

it will be interesting to see how it turns out.  Say you have 1 undefeated team and 6 1-loss teams, who gets in?  Who decides?  Harder if you have 2 undefeated and a few 1-loss.

I think you also look at a whole realignment of the bowl schedule.  Under the current setup, you'd be looking at the Final in late/end of January and I don't think university presidents will go for that.  So I think you see alot of the games moved up/grouped together, the main bowl games end by Jan 1 and the Final played by mid-Jan at the latest.

But love the mini playoff idea.


August 13th, 2011 at 12:04 PM ^ friends. Teddy Greenstein tweet:

"Just got off phone w/Jim Delany. He called Sea Times story "erroneous" and said that Big Ten ADs do not support a +1"


August 13th, 2011 at 2:51 PM ^

The way I think it should be done is the four BCS games, Rose B10 champ vs. P12 champ, Sugar SEC champ vs. At large, Orange ACC champ vs. Big East champ, Fiesta Big 12 champ vs. At large,  the winners play each other the following week based on seeding 1 vs. 4.  2. vs. 3.  and then play the national championship.  This preserves the bowl system and brings a playoff system as well. 

Cock D

August 13th, 2011 at 11:09 PM ^

PAC 12(?) vs. Big 10 in the Rose Bowl on NYD

ACC vs. SEC in the Sugar Bowl (soon to be in the ATL) on NYD

Winners of those two meet in the JerryDome for all the Marbles 2 weeks later.