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Big Ten favors bowls for planned playoffs

The Associated Press


CHICAGO — Big Ten officials came out in favor of keeping bowl games as sites for college football’s planned playoff on Tuesday, preferring to keep the Rose Bowl as the conference’s postseason tradition.

Conference athletic directors as well as commissioner Jim Delany said Tuesday that many details must be resolved before a national playoff is established. Big Ten presidents and chancellors will determine the conference’s official position early next month.

“There was a pretty strong consensus among the ADs that we’d like to have the playoff within the bowl system,” Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne said. “It would be a competitive advantage to have semifinal games at home fields … But the bowls have been good to us. If you took them out of the playoff, it would pretty much destroy the bowl system.”

A four-team Football Bowl Championship system debuts in the 2014 season, replacing a current No.1 vs. No. 2 BCS championship game that has rotated among the Sugar, Orange, Fiesta and Rose Bowl sites.

Delany and Big Ten administrators will continue meeting on Wednesday. The sessions at a downtown hotel include conference athletic directors, senior women administrations and faculty representatives.

Options for selecting the four teams include taking the top four teams in a poll, the four highest-ranked conference champions or a combination of both.

“I do think there’s room for conference champions — and this is a personal observation — as well as highly-rated non-conference champions and independents,” Delany said. “How that happens is to be determined.”

Delany also doesn’t want to water down the rest of the college football season.

“The regular season has been and will continue to be the bedrock of college football,” he said. “I know that the postseason is important, I know that the championship game will be important and the model that leads to that game will be important.

“I don’t want to adopt a model that discourages playing good opponents or any way belittles the regular season championship process,” he said.

Several athletic directors who spoke Tuesday were adamant about preserving traditional bowls, particularly the Rose Bowl’s matchup of the Big Ten and Pac-12 champion.

“For us it’s critical to keep the Rose Bowl in the equation,” Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said. “From kids’ perspective, the bowl experience is the one thing they want to keep. Semifinals at bowl sites provide that, it’s where fans can gather. With campus sites, it becomes (more) like a regular-season game.”

Picking No. 1 vs. No. 2 for a national championship game has been complicated and with a four-team field controversies could multiply.

“Who are the teams?” Hollis said. “Who decides teams? Is there a committee? Are you strictly going by polls?

“It’s very easy to determine 1 and 2 (but) 3 and 4 get complicated,” he said. “Polls can do a good job with 1 and 2. I’m not so sure they can do a good job with 3 and 4.”

In April, commissioners from 11 conferences and Notre Dame reached a consensus on a four-team playoff with two national semifinals followed by a championship game. The proposed format would schedule semifinals after Christmas and a national title game around Jan. 1.

Commissioners are scheduled to meet in late June and have a new format in place for approval by university presidents by July 4. BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said last month that if no agreement was reached, an overhauled version of No. 1 vs. 2 championship game would be used.

Osborne, meanwhile, is uncertain whether the field would remain at four.

“There will be a push to make it eight or 16,” he said. “When I started coaching, the regular season was nine games, and then 10, 11 and 12. Now with conference championship game (and a playoff) you’re dealing with 15 games (and it could go) to 16 or 17.”

Although the Big Ten sent 10 teams to bowl games following the 2011 season, Delany said he wants to end the practice of sending 6-6 teams to bowl games, opting for a 7-5 records a minimum requirement

“If there’s not unanimity, there’s a very strong consensus that 7-5 is a better standard than 6-6,” Delany said. “Six and six is not as special.”