B1G Ten Tour - The Playoff Watch

Posted May 15, 2012

Phil Harrison's latest news and notes from the Big Ten world.

Phil Harrison
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Purdue's Armstrong Pegged for the College Football Hall of Fame-
Congratulations to former Purdue All-American half-back, Otis Armstrong. It was announced this week that the former Boilermaker who starred in the backfield in West Lafayette from 1970-72 will join a class of seventeen former players and coaches for the 2012 class.

Armstrong is the only Big Ten inductee for 2012 and will be a part of the official festivities in the summer of 2013. All told, the Purdue stand-out is the thirteenth former Boilermaker to have been selected. And all of the Old Gold and Black crew are brimming with pride.

Keeping Tabs on the Playoff Watch Part One-
In the continuing effort to keep up with the evolution of the "playoff" model, we pause to reflect on the Big Ten meetings this week in Chicago so far. The pause is for effect--and confusion.

To nobody's surprise, the Big Ten ADs favor a model that folds the bowls--ahem, Rose Bowl--into the plans. They also favor more consideration--but not all--towards high ranking teams that win their conference championships.


Forgive the soap-box moment, but haven't we learned yet that leaving the intersection clogged with fast cars is going to result in a multiple car pile-up? Why isn't it enough to just leave it at the highest four ranked conference champs, or independents (yes Army we'll give you a ticket in the raffle).

Sure many will disagree with this because of selfish reasons, but if you are not the best team in your conference, then you simply should not get an opportunity to attempt to be the best team in the country with such a limited number of teams qualifying. By leaving an exit clause of sorts out there for a high ranking, non-conference champion, there are absolutely going to be some snubs of teams that did win their conference, and it will indeed burn a team every year--and the Big Ten at some point.

You're never going to be able to take the debate out of the selection of the last team into a playoff, but by at least mandating that a team must be a conference champion, it makes it easy to fall back on the reality that good ‘ole State U did not take care of the business that it needed on the field to get invited the party. No crashing allowed. And yes, that would mean that Alabama would have been on the outside looking in with envy last year (cue the e-mails).

Let's start a movement, shall we? We'll call it the "Four Best Conference Champions Model," with the inclusion of the independents if one of them finishes before the pecking order of picking the best four champs. We'll omit the lengthy last part for marketing purposes and put it in the contract.

Who would like to start the Facebook page?

Keeping Tabs on the Playoff Watch Part 2
Look, it's Jim Delany again. Last time we saw him he was clamoring about having home campus games for the semi-finals of a four team playoff. It was creative, and made a lot of sense on multiple fronts.

But wait. Somewhere between his travels from Florida to Chicago, Delany must have met up at a rest stop with the folks from the Rose Bowl and Pac-12. The Big Ten commissioner's latest speaking engagement at the spring meetings has morphed into an epiphany of support for having the semi-finals within the current BCS bowl sites all of a sudden--nudge, nudge.

There is certainly nothing wrong with changing your mind, but only a blow-horn and neon lights would be more obvious than how similarly minded the Big Ten, Pac-12, and Rose Bowl seem to be in this whole playoff planning drama. This is looking more and more like a three instrument orchestra looking to have the college football world witness a self-written concerto, with one Mr. Delany as the Maestro. We'll see how it all "plays" out, or if we'll all be singing a different tune when the final model is unveiled. To be continued....

The Shift in the Big Ten Bowl Line-up
In other news from Delany's time at the podium this week was the upcoming expiration of the Big Ten bowl agreements. Currently, the conference teams resemble snow birds--flocking to Florida on an almost yearly basis. The Capital One Bowl, Outback Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl, and Gator Bowl have all had Big Ten teams frequenting them in the not so distant past. And in many cases, some of the same teams have been on decade long caravan of sorts.

While the weather is certainly nice in the Sunshine State in late December/early January, the Big Ten commish feels that it can have a stale feel to it for fan bases that are looking to travel and make an experience of it. Sooooo, according to the comments of Delany, it looks like you can look forward to different bowl options and environments once the current agreement ends after the 2013 season. Hawaii anyone?