College Football Playoffs: Jim Delany's Plan Doesn't Choose the Best 4 Teams

Adam JacobiBig Ten Football Lead WriterMay 10, 2012

LINCOLN, NE - JUNE 11: Big Ten Conference Commissioner James Delany, flanked by University of Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osbourne(R), inform members of the media that the university has accepted an invitation to join the Big Ten Conference June 11, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska.  The university will begin integration immediately and start athletic competition as soon as 2011. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

Jim Delany is talking about the BCS playoffs again, and as usual, it's to the detriment of common sense and the quality of the college football postseason. Here's his latest proposal, cracking down on teams that he doesn't want to be eligible for the BCS playoffs:

There's a ways to go before a proposed four-team playoff replaces the current BCS format, but Delany doesn't think it should include a team that doesn't win its division.

"I don't have a lot of regard for that team," Delany told the Associated Press. "I certainly wouldn't have as much regard for that team as I would for someone who played nine conference games in a tough conference and played a couple out-of-conference games on the road against really good opponents. If a poll doesn't honor those teams and they're conference champions, I do."

Delanypac cares when don't nobody else care.

The message here is clear: Alabama should not have played for the national championship last season, in Delany's eyes. And yet, Alabama not only played for the title, but they smoked LSU in the process. I was there. It was an unfair fight.

I would have a little more respect for Delany's stance if it were made in the context of a two-team championship. There were plenty of people who didn't want to see Alabama play that game, after all.

But really, this comes down to a simple question: Do you want the best four teams in your playoff? Because if so, you need to address the fact that one of the four best teams in the nation might not be the best team in its division. In fact, we can work on the scenario like this: If a team were one of the four best in the nation and yet not the best in its division, how would you know?

1. Very highly ranked all season long. If a team has noticeably superior talent from the start of the season through the end, it'll be high in the polls all year. You would want a team where at no point in the entire season the consensus was "this team is not one of the best four teams in the nation." Maybe in the aftermath of a loss that changes, but that team needs to stay the best one-loss team in the nation. 

2. Plays in the same division as a higher-ranked team. If by some weird way your team is ranked third and beaten out for the division title by, say, the seventh-ranked team, Delany would be right: That team probably doesn't deserve a title shot. If the third-ranked team is in the same division as the top-ranked team, however, the writing's on the wall.

3. Was beaten only by the higher-ranked team in a close, unconvincing game. If the higher-ranked team slapped Team X around, up and down the field, then there wouldn't be much desire to see Team X in the playoffs. The polls would probably reflect that, too, but that's beside the point. If there's enough ambiguity in Team X's loss, though, it doesn't remove the possibility that it's a playoff-worthy team.

4. Stomped everybody else on its schedule. College football's championship-level postseason play is exclusive enough that it's easier to play your way out of contention than in. So if you can't win your division by dint of having a championship-level team ahead of you in it, the least one should expect is a convincing (if not dominant) win in every other game played.

And you know what? Alabama fit that profile to a T last season. As a result, Alabama earned their way into the BCS championship last season. It's a pretty narrow profile to fit, to be sure, but Alabama proved that such a season can and does happen in college football today.

Thus, if Delany would sit idly by and see that Alabama succeed in a two-team playoff in 2011, then try to deny that exact team a spot in a hypothetical four-team playoff, then he's not in favor of a process that picks the four best teams in the nation. And that's that.