Here's the second half of my interview with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany about the league's bowl lineup.
For Part I, click here.
Do you like having your champion in the Rose Bowl again in back-to-back years?
Jim Delany: It's very nice. Because more than the BCS, that's who we are. It's where we've been for the last six decades. It's probably the most external relationship we have. All of our players, all of our teams, would love to win a national championship, but to be honest with you, if the price were giving up the Rose Bowl, it's probably not a price we'd want to pay. We brought the Rose Bowl in [to the BCS] to have an integrated bowl system, for the good of the bowl system, but for really no other reason beside that. So it's great to have the game reestablished and have a traditional game. I know the [Ohio State] Buckeyes are real excited about it, and we're excited for them.
One non-Big Ten question. What was your reaction to the Fiesta Bowl taking the two non-AQ teams [TCU and Boise State]?
JD: I kind of agree with [Fiesta Bowl executive director John] Junker. If they're good enough to be in [the BCS], they're good enough to play each other. Maybe they want to wear the blanket of the David all the time, I don't know. But they're top-5 teams and top-5 teams can play each other. It should be a great game. I think it's a very interesting game.
Was head-to-head more of a factor this year than in the past? You look at Iowa getting the nod [over Penn State] and Northwestern getting the nod over Wisconsin.
JD: Certainly these are close teams, and there may be other factors, but those are ones that pretty much stood out. And it happens from time to time. I think head-to-head should matter. It's not a small thing. It could be overcome. It's a bowl system, so it's not required. It's not conference rankings, it's not head-to-head, but it's certainly an influential factor.
For Northwestern to get selected where it did, does that say anything about where the program is right now?
JD: They're building a good program. [Pat Fitzgerald has] won nine [in 2008], he won eight [this season]. They've been bowl eligible three years in a row. I think they travel well. It's a small alumni base, small institution, but if you look at their record in Pasadena and Orlando and other places, they've done well.
Michigan State, is there any concern about what's going on there heading into the Alamo Bowl?
JD: That's a tough situation, with the kids suspended. [Mark Dantonio has] done a great job of building that program, and I'm sure he's disappointed in the conduct of the kids. Having to go play in that environment with not a full roster will be a challenge.
You mentioned the need to improve from last year. Have you gotten that sense from the coaches and others around the league?
JD: Yes, from the Kickoff Luncheon and meetings with them and public comments. Hey, football coaches are realistic. They understand that the performance wasn't good and they're motivated to try and get better results this time around.