And he is pretty sure it isn't him.
Did you hear? Jim Delany finally came to his senses on the dreaded "playoff issue" in college football. Delany and the Big Ten --- sticking to the time honored idiom: if you can't beat 'em, hijack their idea and steer the discussion so it best suits your interest --- threw together a little playoff plan that included four teams, valued conference champions, and played the first round of games at the home stadium of the higher seeded team.
Said Northwestern athletics director Jim Phillips "We have to listen to the fans; we cannot be tone-deaf," (he presumable kept a straight face while saying this).
The beauty of this plan is not only its simplicity, but its wide ranging appeal. College football fans like it because it is actual postseason reform that could lead to, you know, settling things on the field. Athletic directors like it because of money --- piles and piles of money. Sleazy bowl representatives don't mind it because it doesn't kill the golden goose just yet. College football "purists" like it because they can call it a Plus-One and not feel the dirty slime of positive reform crawling on their skin. And most of all, Big Ten officials can get behind it because it potentially levels the playing field by giving northern teams an opportunity to earn semi-final games on home turf.
However, all isn't happy on Commissioner Island. Mike Slive wants what Mike Slive wants, and this isn't it.
First, the idea of limiting playoff participation to conference champions isn't very attractive to a conference that just realized how totally awesome it is to put two teams in the title game. While there is a good argument for opening the four-team playoff up to everyone --- after all, eventual champion Alabama did lose to LSU in the regular season and yet clearly looked like it deserved the title in January --- there is also the reality that not everyone loves the SEC and wants to pamper her and massage her bunions (also known as Ole Miss: that red swollen thing that she keeps stepping on)
Second, SEC teams aren't big on playing north of the Mason Dixon Line on sheer principle. Sure, Slive uses the old "we don't think the fans will travel well" excuse knowing full well that if you staged an Alabama game on the moon you would have 200,000 yokels outside their double wides welding crude rockets and buying all the high-octane fuel they could fit into plastic trash bins in the back of a fleet of rusted out Ford pickup trucks from the Carter administration in an effort to get seats near the 50-yard line. On top of that it might not be fair to the conference that has historically played all its postseason games in its own backyard and really likes the de facto home field advantage it has enjoyed for years.
Does this mean the playoff is dead? Hardly. While the SEC still pulls major weight in these discussions, so too do the Big Ten, ACC, Big XII, and Pac-12. The fact of the matter is that there isn't another conference that looks capable of sending two teams into a four team playoff as of right now (to the group of overeager Michigan fans that just started penning an angry comment to me in their head, may I ask that you refrain from counting your chickens before they hatch), and that could help solidify support for the "conference champions clause".
As for home sites in the first round, just remember, the BCS is still going to have its sticky, money grubbing fingers all over this thing, and there is nothing it likes more than staging neutral site games that better allow it to fleece schools of hundreds of thousands of dollars in ticket and hotel guarantees.
So just when we all thought this totally sensible playoff idea was rolling along, we are all reminded of the truth about college football reform:
Check your common sense at the door, you won't be needing it in here.