It’s down to four options for college football’s postseason plans after the 2013 season. And the Big Ten/Pac-12 has a scenario in the running that’s bizarre — but indicative of just how much those two leagues, plus the Rose Bowl, wants to cling to their bread.
The USA Today published an outline of the four proposals. They are:
>> Keep the BCS structure, but dump automatic conference qualifiers and other fluff that hurts interest and ratings for the games.
>> The original “plus one” where a No. 1 and No. 2 team is selected after all bowl games are played.
>> A seeded four-team playoff for four different “locale” scenarios:
- A. All three games at bowl sites.
- B. All three games open to bid process.
- C. Semifinals at bowls, final subject to an open, rotating bid.
- D. Semis at campus sites, final to open bid.
>> The final option is a four-team playoff with a Big Ten/Pac-12/Rose Bowl amendment. That’s the one where the Rose Bowl hosts the Big Ten and Pac-12 teams no matter what while the other two games are played. If the Big Ten or Pac-12 team is among the top four seeds, they’d be eligible for selection in the championship game after the semifinals and Rose Bowl were played.
So three games and a potentially-weird selection process after that, all to accommodate the Big Ten, Pac-12, Rose Bowl.
This, Husker fans, is the family you married into. Five years ago, you would have howled at this. You may still. But you’ve got a big ol’ diamond rock on the Big Ten’s finger now. You can’t sidestep away from it.
Since Big Ten boss Jim Delany has expressed a desire for protecting the Rose Bowl, this final proposal has to be his, to some extent. There’s no good way to frame how odd it is. None. Dangerous for the leagues, too. All to save the Rose Bowl?
Say it’s 2014 and Nebraska is the No. 3 team in the country, and it plays, oh, Oregon, which is No. 10. Meanwhile, the No. 1 team plays the No. 5 team, and the No. 2 team squares off vs. No. 4. If the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds win, and Nebraska does, too, how in the world do you keep the No. 4 seed out of the national title? It beat the No. 2 seed. NU would have beaten the No. 10.
Could you imagine the Huskers’ fans rage at the Big Ten in that moment? Robbed of a title spot to play for show in Pasadena?
And what if the Big Ten and Pac-12 had the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds, while another Big Ten team had a No. 4 seed? If the Pac-12 team beat the No. 1 Big Ten team, but the second Big Ten team wins its game, you could have, what, a replication of the 2001 BCS mess, where Nebraska got pummeled by Colorado but still played for the national title? Or would the Big Ten/Pac-12 turn down a second bid in the playoff to preserve its Rose Bowl?
No. This will not do. I don’t think the league’s own members would stand for it. I know Big Ten and Pac-12 folks like the Rose Bowl. But they don’t like it so much that they’d embrace a potential exhibition over a true national title.
The national punditocracy seems to agree, and figures a four-team setup with campus sites for semifinal games is the best bet. Me too.