And unlike some of his other crusades, this one might leave a mark.
Delany pointed out that, starting with the 2016 season, Big Ten football schedules will move from eight to nine conference games and will mandate one Power 5 non-conference opponent. The other two non-conference opponents must be Football Bowl Subdivision schools.
In other words, no Jacksonville State (at Auburn Sept. 12) or Charleston Southern (at Alabama Nov. 21) or anyone else from the Football Championship Subdivision.
A year from now, the Big Ten will be the only Power 5 conference with all of these rugged scheduling components: Nine league games, at least one Power-5 non-conference opponent, all 12 regular-season games against FBS schools and a conference championship game.
“We think it’s what our fans want,” Delany said. “We think it’s what our players want. And we think it’s what the College Football Playoff committee wants.”
Not necessarily in that order, of course. And if you don’t think this is a sales pitch served to the selection committee that will be honed and repeated ad nauseam, with a side of sneer at the Big 12’s and the SEC’s scheduling, think again.
“I’m not sure that people have paid as much attention to the (College Football Playoff) guidelines for selection of teams,” Delany said. “There are about eight paragraphs that deal with the issue of when resumes look similar, similar record, similar resumes. Conference champions are going to get the first tiebreaker consideration. And strength of schedule is going to get the second.
“So if you start looking at schedules that have FCS teams that have some 20 fewer scholarships, I think that’s a consideration. I think, if you’re playing more conference games and you’re in a strong conference that, typically, is going to give you a stronger strength of schedule resume. I think winning a conference championship game gives you an advantage.”
If they weren’t paying attention before, Big Jim will make sure they’re paying attention now.
Will the SEC react? Probably not in the short run, anyway. But let’s see what happens after the first time the conference doesn’t have a representative in a four-team playoff field.