Jim Delany says College Football Playoff doesn't define Big Ten

NEW YORK -- The Big Ten has been left out of the College Football Playoff the past two years and hasn't had its champion included since 2015, but commissioner Jim Delany isn't panicking with the league's schedule model.

Delany said Wednesday that the Big Ten has no plans to shorten its league schedule from nine games to eight. The Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 all play nine conference games, while the SEC and ACC -- the only leagues with playoff participants in all five years of the system -- play eight. Delany said there are some trends from the first five years of playoff selections that the Big Ten could apply, but the conference won't be overhauling its model.

"[The playoff] doesn't define us," Delany told reporters after speaking at the Learfield Intercollegiate Athletics Forum. "I'm going to be disciplined about it. I know the quality of our football. I know our players, I know the coaches, I know the competition. What we created in our structure is not exclusively for the CFP. It's for the season-ticket holder, it's for the players, it's for our institutions to build a conference. That's why they play nine. If we wanted to get in and that was the holy grail, the No. 1 objective, maybe we would be at eight. Maybe we would be playing [more FCS opponents].

"But that's not the only objective."

Delany joked that being so diplomatic "doesn't come naturally" but said he never questions selections for the playoff or the NCAA basketball tournament. He congratulated the four playoff participants. While disappointed that league champion Ohio State didn't make the field of four, Delany respects the committee and the playoff structure.

"I don't have buyer's remorse on this," he said. "They're doing the best they can to find their way to the outcome that we asked them to do. So what are we going to do? When we disagree with it, destroy it? That's not right."

Delany said he knows the seasons when the league is down and that this fall has been strong overall with three teams -- No. 6 Ohio State, No. 7 Michigan and No. 12 Penn State -- that he feels could win a national title. The Big Ten had playoff participants in the first three years of the system, with Ohio State winning the inaugural playoff championship in 2014.

"We want to play people, we want to beat people, our fans want it, our coaches like it," Delany said. "Does that make it hard to get into the CFP? Apparently."