So the Big Ten meetings came and went in Chicago this week. There was nothing Earth shattering that came out of them. Basically the coaches, athletic directors, and Big Ten executives got together to complain about their problems. They came to the consensus that these are very difficult problems and agreed to meet again next year to discuss them again. It's basically like every office meeting I ever attend. But let's rehash it anyway.
First, every reporter was dying to stick a microphone in Joe Paterno's face hoping to get him to throw Jim Delany under the bus on the topic of expansion and a playoff game. Predictably, Paterno had nothing to say.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno backed off Tuesday from calling for the expansion of the Big Ten to include a 12th team that would open the door for a conference championship game in football. Paterno had been quoted in recent reports as an advocate for both.
Paterno said the remarks were off-handed, "without any deliberate intent."
"You're wasting your time talking to me about it, honestly," Paterno said during a break from meetings of Big Ten coaches, athletic directors and league administrators.
Everyone is saying Paterno "backed off" from his comments a week or two ago as if Paterno was directly challenging Delany back then. But you have to understand the context of Paterno's comments. He was speaking at a private dinner to alumni. There weren't supposed to be any reporters in the audience, but as is always the case, a few of them pony up the $100 for a meal and a chance at a good story. So I'm not surprised that in an environment like the Big Ten meetings with reporters crawling all over that Paterno would clam up.
In other news, Jim Delany had this to say about Barack Obama pushing for a college football playoff.
The president initially voiced his wish for a football playoff last fall while campaigning and has remained an advocate. "He probably has an interest as a fan," Delany said. "He's a scholar and a lawyer and a great politician, but I don't think he really understands the complexity of the issue."
Of course. A college football playoff system would be incredibly difficult to organize and put together. If only we had a model we could base it off of, like, I don't know, maybe the Div. IAA otherwise knows as the Football Championship Subdivision?
TNL has a much lengthier tirade that you simply must read.
One item that came up that seems to be getting some traction is playing nine conference games starting in 2012.
Big Ten athletic directors have discussed ways to play a nine-game league schedule for several years, and while nothing is imminent, the plan appears to have a good deal of support. League members currently play eight games and have two conference byes that change every two years.
"We talk about that at every meeting," said Michigan athletic director Bill Martin, who added that the drive for nine is getting more support. "As the guarantees [for nonconference games] go up and up and up and the fans want to play our sister institutions in the conference, to me it's a no-brainer. Play 'em."
As we've pointed out before, the logistics of every team playing nine games doesn't work. You will always have an odd team that only gets to play eight games. This makes the Michigan and Ohio State blogs go into a panic because they are terrified that some year a team like Indiana or Purdue is going to avoid playing both of them and end up winning the conference with a 7-1 record over their 7-2 record.
I say so what. If you arranged it so the last place team loses the extra conference game you're only setting yourself up for the once a century worst-to-first scenario. It can't be any worse than the ugly mess the Big XII South created last year.
But the benefits would far outweigh the occassional embarrassment. The cost of scheduling out of conference competition is going up exponentially. It's so bad that teams are dipping more and more into the FCS teams. Why not keep that money in the conference? And fans would benefit from having more games on the schedule that actually mean something.
And ultimately maybe this conference needs a little controversy. Like the current administration says, "Never let a crisis go to waste." What better opportunity to push for expansion and change than to have a dispute over who is champion. But of course that would require getting rid of the whole "Co-Champion" label and hurting someone's feelings I guess.