Big Ten open for flexibility postseason talks

The Big Ten's coaches, athletic directors and presidents have each now held their respective meetings, building new ideas while maintaining the conference's principles. Going forward, the Big Ten is willing to be flexible in working toward a new postseason model for college football.

The Big Ten's athletic directors and presidents hold different preferences for how college football's postseason should be modeled, but are willing to be flexible.

During their mid-May meetings in Chicago, the Big Ten's athletic directors came to an agreement on a four-team playoff, while supporting the bowl system.

On Sunday, the conference's presidents met in the Big Ten's Park Ridge offices, and came to an agreement that the status quo is the best-suited postseason model, with a plus-one model and four-team playoff as their second and third choices, respectively.

Both the Big Ten's athletic directors and presidents agreed that the bowl system -- namely the Rose Bowl -- need to be protected, while making the regular season the 'bedrock' of the postseason.

"Given those principles, we also recognize that we needed to be realistic, that we weren't the only conference that has a say in this matter," Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Pearlman said via teleconference, speaking on behalf of the Big Ten's presidents. "We have tried to be flexible."

The Big Ten's presidents, athletic directors and coaches have entrusted conference commissioner Jim Delany to withhold those principles during the discussions.

"What (Jim Delany) has been trying to do is find a way, within the system and the realistic restraints that we have imposed, to implement our principles, and yet engage with the other conferences," said Pearlman.

Given the numerous opinions and beliefs -- both in Big Ten discussions and within other conferences' meetings -- Delany's primary hope is that the implemented system receives support, which has never been the case for the BCS.

"Nobody has come to the defense of the BCS in the last 15 years; it has been a piñata," said Delany. "You can't maintain a system without some support. My hope is, regardless of what we do, that we support what we decide to do together. We have to be cognizant of the public, but we also have to be cognizant of the universities, the teams, the coaches, and the players, and we have to be cognizant of each other and the various interests we represent for the long term."

The SEC conference came to the conclusion, during their meetings last week in Destin, Fla., that a new postseason model should include the nation's four best teams, without favor to conference champions.

Delany agreed with the SEC, though acknowledged the nation's top teams often include several conference champions anyway.

"Our search is for a way to find the best four football teams," said Delany. "However you do that, I think typically, it's going to involve a lot of champions. I don't care if it occurs in a committee or exactly how it occurs, the key issues are honoring champions, honoring strength of schedules, honoring teams and coaches that try to play good schedules, and recognizing a team that plays an additional championship game -- rather than a team that doesn't -- as an additional challenge."

The discussions through each conferences' meetings carry the prevailing thought that college football's regular season needs to be the most important priority with a new postseason model.

"The competition in the regular season needs to be positioned in the postseason so that it continues to be one of the more powerful regular seasons in all of sports," Delany said. "I hope people see the connection between what we're thinking about in the postseason, in terms of limiting it, making it modest, in one hand; honoring champions in another hand, and how that's connected to (the idea that) every Saturday counts."

Since the formation of the BCS, the Big Ten has only seen three different schools (Michigan; Ohio State; Penn State) -- and seven schools in total -- finish in the BCS top four. The past isn't a concern for Delany and Big Ten presidents, who believe the conference can compete in any postseason model.

Further collaboration toward building a new postseason model will take place during the June 13 BCS meetings in Chicago; the NCAA Division I Conference Commissioners Association meetings on June 19 and 20, also in Chicago; and the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee meetings on June 26 in Washington.

The Big Ten has its hopes and principles going forward, but is willing to cooperate during future discussions.

"We are trying to be open to the conversations that ought to take place with the conference presidents," Pearlman said. "We have tried not to place a stake in the ground with (the mindset of) 'over our dead bodies.' We are trying to do what's best for college football."

Chris Emma has covered college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports since 2009. He covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers for Big Red Report, and currently covers the Northwestern Wildcats and Chicago Cubs.
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