The Pac-12 wrapped up its summer meetings yesterday without taking a position on what new postseason format it favored. What was left after that was a bunch of meaningless platitudes.
“Today we just confirmed what our values and principles are for working with others to move the BCS forward,” Oregon State president and Pac-12 CEO chair Ed Ray said. “No one is talking about the status quo; I just don’t hear anyone talking about business as usual.”
No one, hunh. Well, one day later, the Big Ten opened its mouth on the subject, and guess what phrase emerged from that orifice?
… Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said the presidents prefer to keep the status quo of the present bowl system. But as other conferences and public demand are pushing for a playoff system, he said the presidents agreed that a plus-one system was their second choice.
The third option would be models such as a four-team playoff.
The reason this is devolving is that both conferences are trying their damnedest to carry out two goals: save a meaningful Rose Bowl and screw the SEC. If you hear an echo in these two comments…
“What I left with is a very clear direction that we need to not just preserve, but actually enhance the meaning of being in a conference,” commissioner Larry Scott said. “We want competing in our conference and winning our conference to mean no less than it does today and maybe even more.”
The presidents once again stressed the importance of finding a model that focuses on “honoring champions, honoring strength of schedule, recognizing teams that play an additional championship team over one that doesn’t,” Delany said.
… that’s why.
The problem they face is that there are a limited number of ways to accomplish both.
“There aren’t that many models floating out there,” Ray conceded. “I know three that people keep coming back to. Within that set, we’re looking for things that honor conference champions getting appropriate consideration as national champions and that honor our unique relationship with the Rose Bowl.”
The three models every conference has examined are a plus-one, a four-team playoff played inside the current BCS bowl structure and a four-team playoff played outside the bowls. Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds said he didn’t see any compromise between the two competing playoff models that appear to, in some form or fashion, take the place of the BCS. Incoming Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told CBSSports.com on Saturday that there would likely be some strength of schedule component included to help balance the champions vs. top four model out.
“We’re looking for a model that being a conference champion matters to determine who the ultimate national champion is,” Ray said. “There are a couple of models that do have that element to them and we’re quite open to having a discussion about them.”
Unfortunately, the SEC is reluctant to have that chat, for obvious reasons. Not that Jim Delany isn’t willing to whisper sweet nothings in Mike Slive’s ear.
The SEC and Big 12 do not want to automatically include conference champions and favor a playoff with the four best teams, as SEC commissioner Mike Slive put it.
“I agree it should be the four best teams,” Delany said, noting the leagues need to find an “appropriate proxy” to determine these.
See? It’s not about conference champs. It just depends on what the meaning of the word “best” is. Surely reasonable people can agree on that. And if there were any running football conferences, they just might.
Delany acknowledges that this isn’t likely to be resolved by that third commissioners meeting on June 26th. The plus-one still has a pulse.
UPDATE: Paul Myerberg believes the sides might be able to coalesce around a selection committee. Not exactly what fans asking for things to be settled on the field have in mind, I’m afraid.