For a long time, gathering the support of the Big Ten Commissioner would be the most important thing in the college football pecking order. Delaney is that powerful a figure. He supposedly got Virginia Tech their Sugar Bowl bid because of his relationship with the CEO. He stood firmly in opposition to the plus-one playoff to preserve the tradition of New Year's Day in Pasadena along with everyone's favorite granduncle Tom Hansen. After a final BCS embarrassment that excluded every non-SEC conference, Delaney is finally caving in.
Delany had a simple, modest proposal for a College Football Final Four that makes plenty of sense: Let the semifinals be played at the sites of the teams that performed the best of the regular season to reward regular season performance. This is similar to what Scott proposed for the Pac-12, an event that turned out to make plenty of success for the conference and generated a strong audience for the game on one week's notice. It rewards the team that played better during the regular season by providin,g them with a true homefield advantage.
You have to think that Delany and Scott might have considered the proposal for homefield together, and the Pac-12 leader gladly conceded credit of the plan to the Big Ten commissioner. Pull the strings without being viewed as the mastermind; how delightful Machachivallan.
(One has to wonder if in the future Scott will get other conferences to reconsider playing neutral site championship games in favor of conference games in home stadiums, but that remains to be seen.)
Now that Delaney has brought that support, Scott is ready to go ahead and detonate what college football has meant to everyone the past decade and a half. Just like many other players, they're ready to jettison Oreo coin tosses and trim the fat that is bowl season, taking at least 6-6 teams out of the mix to prevent the rewarding of mediocrity.
As for determining the final four teams, Scott said a notion that Roy Kramer, a former Southeastern Conference commissioner, expressed to CBSSports.com last week "resonated with me." To keep the integrity of the regular season and the conference championship games, Kramer said, all of the teams in the playoff should be conference champions.
It was an interesting position for Kramer, as that plan would probably be a detriment to the SEC, which had two teams play for the B.C.S. title in January.
"So much of the passion of a move to a playoff is to see it earned on the field," Scott said. "What more clear way to have intellectual consistency with the idea of a playoff than to earn it as a conference champion? It would de-emphasize the highly subjective polls that are based on a coach and media voting and a few computers." He added that any formula "based more on results" would be good for the sport.
Translation from Scott: Your All-SEC Championship Feud was a farce. Let's make sure nothing that embarrassing ever happens again.
Sure, LSU and Alabama might have been the top two teams in the country last year. But they already played each other and proved themselves on the field. That contest should've been the end. LSU should've moved on to play one of the Oklahoma State/Oregon/Wisconsin contingent, Alabama should've played in exhibition contest X, and on we go. The college football season should be all about winning your conference, and whoever is one of the top four performers and a winner of the conference should go on and participate.
That's the closest thing to equitable you'll get. It rewards winning and gives the best possible champion possible. It rewards the top four performing conferences in the nation with the best overall bids. It encourages the motto that every game counts, and would prevent a fiasco like "Alabama: 2011-12 National Champions" ever happening again.
The Pac-12 and Big Ten have spent much of their time struggling to overcome the behemoth that is SEC football. Everything in college football is currently geared toward rewarding the Southern bloc. It has the largest swaths of media coverage and has a disproportionate amount of the voting public, and it's generally reflected in the preseason polls and how highly the Southeastern schools are rewarded in general. Kramer's/Scott's tweak to Delany's proposal means no major conferences haves to worry as much about SEC at-large bids and teams from their conferences placating the egos of beatwriters in Birmingham and Charleston. Regardless of how they feel about one-loss Alabama one year or one-loss Florida the next, those teams cannot trump another squad that's just as good as them.
And at the same time, teams can't go entirely in the tank. Out-of-conference contests mean just as much to pad the resume and keep the rankings up as high as they possibly can go to ensure they get the homefield advantage in a semifinal matchup. LSU and Oklahoma State hosting Oregon and Wisconsin makes for a compelling Final Four. Some may argue the merits of Stanford and Alabama, but there is something to a team proving itself on the field, and Stanford blew its opportunity against Oregon just like Alabama lost their chance against LSU. The new college football national championship is the sporting equivalent of Russian Roulette; win or be forever silenced in the race. Di di mau.
While Stewart Mandel does bring up a valid point about the best four teams not being represented, the Kramer/Scott/Delany proposed playoff is the best potential marriage of both worlds. This plan helps college football overcome its popularity contest/reality TV roots. It'll help make the sport reward the best with a robust system for deciding champions, and also set the pace for even deeper, more fundamental changes in the structure of college football as we know it.
And if we just get the playoff, it's still a victory for everyone.