On Tuesday, we heard Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany express his opposition to a "plus-one" model in college football.
Well, there has been some interesting chatter coming out of the Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in New York the past couple of days. Several athletic directors have said that a four-team playoff is inevitable. The results of this season and the rematch might have been the tipping point for major changes.
Delany himself appeared on a panel at the forum on Thursday and talked about these issues. Delany again voiced his disagreement with any playoff stance. But he's ready to support changes in the BCS system, most notably getting rid of automatic qualifications for conferences.
“Some of the people that don’t have (BCS AQ status), say they don’t want it,” Delany said. “Some of the people that do have it, don’t really care about it. Maybe it needs to be reconsidered. I’m not wed to it. I’m wed to the 1-2 game and I’m wed to the Rose Bowl. I’m not wed to the (BCS AQ) selection process or the limitations.”
A new BCS system will be put into place after the 2013 season and could look wildly different. There is support for using the BCS formula simply to determine the BCS title game and to let the bowls then select whomever they want.
Delany has one obvious line in the sand.
“As long as I can go to the Rose Bowl, I don’t really care,” he said.
That won't exactly make Delany popular with the public in general, but Big Ten fans can certainly understand his reasoning. The Rose Bowl is the most special college football postseason experience there is, and of course the league doesn't want to give up its tie-in with that game. Delany should fight to protect that tradition.
The question becomes whether these two ideas are mutually exclusive. Can there be a plus-one system that uses the bowls as semifinal sites, yet the Rose Bowl lives on as a Big Ten vs. Pac-12 meeting? Of course, the problem there is what happens if one of those leagues has a team in the Final Four. That's certainly not unprecedented, though, as the Big Ten and Pac-12 have had teams make the BCS title game, thereby either sending other teams or leaving an at-large spot in the Rose Bowl. That's how Illinois made the Rose Bowl in the 2007 season, for example. In some ways, it actually opens an avenue for more Big Ten teams to have a shot at their moment in the Pasadena sun.
Either way, change appears to be coming to the BCS. The Big Ten and the Rose Bowl likely are going to present the biggest obstacle. How much, if at all, is Delany willing to yield?