Even when he smiles he looks pissed.
If you hadn’t heard yet, it looks like college football is finally heading somewhere we’ve wanted it to for a long time: a post-season playoff to determine the national champion. What many thought would be impossible five years ago is now becoming a reality, via admittedly small baby steps.
Like most things in college football, the SEC led the way, with commissioner Mike Slive initiating the talks on integrating a playoff into the BCS. He was met with indifference at first, but the powers-that-be have warmed to the idea over the years, possibly because they turned on a TV and saw that almost everybody that watches college football wants to see a playoff.
Nobody has any idea yet what that playoff will look like, but Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has one condition he’d like placed on the entry requirements: only let conference champs in.
Well, that doesn’t seem so bad. On its face, this doesn’t seem to discriminate at all against any particular conference. Actually, it seems pretty fair. If you’re gonna play for a national championship, you should at least be a “regional” champion, right? But in its practical application, it has some dubious effects. Naturally, any given conference can only have one champion (complicated stuff, I know). So if only conference champions are allowed, and each conference only has one champion, what does that necessarily imply?
Under that system, every conference could only get a maximum of one team into the playoffs, regardless of the second-place team’s ranking.
You may be asking “Why does that terribly grouchy looking old man care about limiting conference representatives?” The reasoning for that is pretty obvious: Delany doesn’t want the SEC to dominate the playoffs like it has the BCS. I can’t say I blame him, either. If I were in his shoes, I’d want to do exactly the same thing. This champs-only sentiment is likely a direct result of seeing last year’s title game played between two teams from the same conference. Heck, from the same division. While people south of the Mason-Dixon thought that was great (until they watched the actual game), pretty much nobody else cared about the championship at all. But should that mean that the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th best team should be excluded from the playoffs just because they’re not the best team in their conference? As SEC fans, we’d likely say no. As rational, hopefully fair, human beings, we’d also likely say no. As someone who doesn’t want to watch LSU get shut out again in one of the worst last games in recent memory, I’d say yes.
Ultimately, Jim Delany’s stipulation only shows his (healthy) fear of the behemoth that is SEC football. But we can take that as a compliment. There’s nothing more flattering, and more satisfying, than continually beating someone so badly that they want to force the rules to handicap you, and that’s exactly what’s happening here. Don’t let any of your Big Ten friends try to tell you otherwise: Delany is pouting on a grand stage.
If this were a playground, he would be one step away from picking up his ball and going home.