Delany: Playoff proposals create 'slippery slope'

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

CHICAGO -- Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany reads your letters and e-mails.

A growing continent of college football fans advocate some sort of playoff system, and they're directing their opinions toward Delany, the man many believe is most responsible for the BCS system staying put. Delany on Thursday reiterated that the Big Ten and the Pac-10 are not the two primary roadblocks to a college football playoff. He said five of the BCS governing members had no interest in a playoff system during meetings this spring, and the two members who expressed interest "weren't committed to the concepts."

The "consensus" among the powers-that-be is that the current system works, but what about the fans? Don't the BCS conference commissioners and the Notre Dame athletic director have a responsibility to listen to the majority of their constituents?

"We do have a responsibility to consider it," Delany said. "My address is well known. I get lots of communications on the subject. I read them all. But I think also we have responsibilities to our schools, to our athletes, to our teams and to the bowl system. ... I will tell you this: in many, many ways the college football fan votes with their feet by going to the games and the college football fan votes by watching the games. I think they're voting fairly affirmatively for what we have."

Playoff proposals present several problems, according to Delany. A playoff would spill into the second semester or occur during final exams, creating problems for the school presidents. A bigger issue is determining which teams would qualify for a playoff, and how many.

"Once you go to a four-team playoff, that means in last year's circumstances, Georgia and (USC) are not included," he said. "That would take about 18 months to be able to make the playoff based on political pressures. Then, you have eight, who should get them? The six conference champions? If you don't give it to the conference champions, then you've really relegated your championship. ... If you give it to all conferences, then you're at 10 automatic qualifiers. I've seen the (NCAA) basketball tournament, the automatic bid is the most important thing. So very quickly, we'd be at a 16-team playoff. The slippery slope argument is there."

Delany also weighed in on several other topics:

  • Post-Thanksgiving games are likely here to stay in the Big Ten, as coaches requested and received a bye week after previously playing 12 straight games before the holiday. "We have the bye this year, we don't in '09 and in '10 we have it again," Delany said. "And then going forward indefinitely, as far as we have schedules, it will be after Thanksgiving."

  • Would the Big Ten ever implement a Rooney rule to increase its number of minority head coaches? The league has been underrepresented, with no black head coaches since Michigan State's Bobby Williams (1999-2002). "I wouldn't be opposed to talking about it," Delany said. "The six major conferences have been bringing 18 African-American football coaches, 18 athletic directors, six conference commissioners and search folks together for three years now, the goal being at the end of six years, there will be 100 African-American coaches who know 100 athletic directors. We've got to reach out. We've got to open up."

  • The Comcast-Big Ten Network deal is done, but negotiations are still ongoing with several other cable providers in the Midwest. "Our job is not finished," Delany said. "We're only in about seven out of 10 homes in the Midwest."

  • Delany on the Big Ten's recent BCS bowl performance: "We want to play the big games on the big stage, and sometimes you just get whipped, and we did. So you have to kind of nuzzle up to that and sort of accept it. But what I don't like to do is take it further than you should."