Yesterday I wrote about the showdown that was brewing between the Big Ten and the SEC over the direction of the new college football playoff plan that is in the works.
As things normally go when it comes to all things College Football Playoff, that was a bit premature. We all thought we knew where the powers that be stood on the issues at hand. Then the Big Ten started to talk and say some downright crazy things. Land-Grant Holyland explains:
And of course, the reticent to change, college-football's-answer-to-luddism mentality that the BCS isn't even broken in the first place. The phrases "The BCS has been battered and criticized" and "[it's been] treated like a piñata" were thrown around, without the requisite "deservedly so" and sans any not optional irony. That's not to say they also don't recognize the fallibility of their own points of view (or at least aren't masters of serving more than one god). They'd go on to spend the remaining near half hour acquiescing to the side of the ledger history will reflect most favorably on.
So the Big Ten came out and essentially said that it was open to anything, that the BCS wasn't all that bad in the first place, and since the conference can't expect everyone to stay with the status quo -- a move that the Big Ten openly pines for -- well, it could be moved to enact some sort of reform.
Once everyone stopped fuming enough to look at everything a little closer (and let's be honest, someone needed to take the Big Ten to task for some of the ridiculous things said today; bravo Luke) things began to make a little bit more sense.
"I think that people understand now that our search right now is to find the best four football teams. However you do that, typically it's going to involve a lot of champions. I don't care whether it occurs in a committee but I do think the two key issues are honoring champions, honoring strength of schedule, honoring teams and coaches that try to play good schedule and recognizing teams that play an additional championship game versus one that doesn't."
And there it is, folks. Jim Delany's plan in all its glory. He has backed down at every turn, let the SEC set itself up to be locked in (any reluctance on the SEC's part can now be spun as against the spirit of The Best Four), and ensured the Big Ten a sufficient say in the proceedings. Matt Hinton breaks it down the best (as always):
A change of heart would be interesting, and surprising. But I think it would also be wrong. Read between the lines, and you'll see Delany reframing the debate by cutting right to its heart: Just how do you define which teams are the "four best teams," anyway?
That's the same basic question that's plagued the BCS from its inception, when it was created for the sole purpose of matching the "best two teams" – a Quixotic mission that has repeatedly earned those scare quotes over the last 15 years. On some level, it's bound to plague whatever format the conferences finally agree on for a playoff, too, and probably whatever format evolves out of the original in the future. The truth is, in every bracket, there will always be another team on the outside as good as the last team you let in. That's true whether it's two teams, or four, or eight, or sixty-eight.
So the question is not only where to draw the line, but how to draw it in a way that most clearly and most fairly distinguishes between otherwise identical teams that are inevitably going to fall on opposite sides. What Delany is suggesting is that the intrinsic legitimacy that comes with winning a conference championship on the field is at least as important to the answer as the opinions of a bunch of deadline-frazzled writers, self-interested coaches and inscrutable computers.
Delany had a plan all along: get a committee to select the playoff participants, thereby banishing the bias inherent in the currently flawed polls. The Big Ten is setting up a series with the Pac-12, is taking on tougher challenges in non-conference scheduling, and is set up in a 12-team conference that is trending upward while everyone else is diluting the talent pool with rampant expansion. The Big Ten is setting itself up to win a spot in the playoff based on what happens on the field, not on pollster ballots. Jim Delany is just making sure that he gets what he wants: a selection committee.
Links after the jump:
Big Ten to distribute $284 million to teams - Why is Jim Delany so confident in negotiations? Is it because the Big Ten pulls in more money than god? Yes, yes it is.
Pretrial hearing for Michigan WR Jerald Robinson delayed again - So about having wide receiver depth this season...
Devin Booker impressed by Michigan unofficial visit - UMHoops runs down Devin Booker's visit reaction, and needless to say the top-40 guard would be a major get for John Beilein and his staff.
Leon McQuay III names a top 3 - Michigan makes the cut with USC and Vanderbilt. McQuay is listed as a safety to the sites, but would come to Michigan as a boundary corner (JT Floyd's current position).
Pet's first University of Michigan Cheerleader Dress? You aren't content with being able to humiliate the dog—try to get a cat in this and you will end up with a handful of fur and blood—at all times other than when you are washing its college-themed cheerleader outfit. You need to have a backup Pet Cheerleader Dress for your squeaky little pretend husband in case there is a Pet Cheerleader Dress-related emergency. You know the dog is male. You don't even care.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Terrible, terrible people. Hitler had a dog. He never put it in a Pet Cheerleader Dress.
Mgoblog on all that Michigan gear that you could not even imagine someone making with the intent to turn a profit on the sale of. Every time you see a list that puts Michigan in the top revenue earners in college football, remember that it is partly because there are people out there that that buy Michigan themed chili powder and cheer-leading outfits for their dogs. Capitalism at its finest, folks.
That's how easy it is. It is so easy, it almost qualifies as boilerplate: Almost everyone in the business has been writing essentially the exact same thingfor ten years, replacing the names as necessary. We've yet to be right. (Personally, I was convinced that last year, Fisher's second, would be the leap. Wrong again.) But at some point, we think, it's going to happen. It has to. If you keep throwing enough darts at the board for long enough, eventually one of them is going to hit its target. And who wants to be the bitter cynic who sat that round out?
Matt Hinton on Florida State once again standing as a top ten team in the preseason polls. Included mostly because Hinton is writing about college ball again and I am giddy over it. Glad to have you back, Matt.
Conference Realignment: How To Poach Schools Without Getting Sued - A handy guide for those of you out there getting ready to start your own athletic conference.
The unfortunate cruelty of it all is that all of this, in one way, must end. After this season, Denard will graduate, and he will no longer wear the winged helmet in the Big House, the venue in which his atypically typical actions have escaped traditional notions of time and space. The play took place on September 5th of 2009, but saying it this way strips it of its meaning. It happened in a specific time and a specific place and a specific atmosphere with specific circumstances, a multi-veined convergence which will never be replicated for as long as this world continues to exist. It is an idea rarer and more worthy of praise than any championship or trophy or accolade. It is important to remember that, in spite of all the college football topics of the day, this is in fact what it is "all about." To see history--not just happenings, but history--and to recognize when things are happening because to recognize is to canonize is to understand.
Breaking down Denard Robinson's first play from scrimmage in the way only HtR can. Reading things like this make me grateful for the fact that Holdin' the Rope contributes over here on a regular basis. If you aren't following his work here and at Holdin' the Rope proper, then you are missing out on the development of one of the next great Michigan voices.