College Football

The Real Reason the Big Ten Wants a Selection Committee for the BCS Playoffs

LINCOLN, NE. - JUNE 11: Big Ten Conference Commissioner James Delany with University of Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osbourne (R) speaks at a press conference for Nebraska accepting 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
Amy DaughtersFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2012

To add fuel to the already blazing BCS playoff inferno, the Big Ten came out of meetings earlier this week declaring that they'd prefer a selection committee, as opposed to the BCS standings, as the deciding factor for which four teams would participate in the proposed mini-playoff.

According to an article by Adam Rittenberg posted on ESPN.com, the Big Ten's first choice would be to stick with the BCS system "as is."

If the status quo doesn't win the day, the Big Ten is a proponent of a plus-one format (this is where the bowls would be played, and then the championship contenders would be selected) or a four-team playoff scheme where the participants are determined by a selection committee.

Per Rittenberg, the Big Ten's newly unveiled committee approach comes due to a desire for more consideration to be given to strength of schedule and conference champions, factors that are arguably overlooked in the current BCS formula.

So, why does the Big Ten really not want to draw the mini-playoff participants from the BCS standings?

Indeed, what is Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany's beef with the four best teams in college football going at it for all the marbles, as determined by using the same formula he shows support for in his "stay the same" desire?

Though we could plausibly list a bunch of different reasons as to why Delany and the Big Ten want a selection committee as opposed to human polls delicately intertwined with computer gyrations, really the base answer is fairly obvious.

How so?

Well, if we used the top four teams in the BCS standings to fill in the mini-bracket, the Big Ten would be, more often than not, left out of the mix.

Don't think so? Well, then, take a look at the following stats.

The last time a Big Ten squad finished among the top four teams in the final BCS standings was 2007 when Ohio State finished No. 1. That means that, if the playoff system using the BCS standings had already been in place, the Big Ten would NOT have participated in the last four championship brackets.

Though the Big Ten had teams finish among the top four in the BCS sweepstakes with fairly decent regularity from 2002-06, the programs that make up the nation's oldest conference have only had one or more members ranked in the top four a mere six times in the 14-year history of the BCS.

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Signage is displayed at the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game between the Oregon Ducks and the Auburn Tigers at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

This means that, had the playoff scheme been in place since the BCS took over in 1998, only six times (or 43 percent of the time) would the Big Ten have even had one team in the mix.

Under the same scenario, if you're wondering which conferences would have participated in the most four-team playoff grids since 1998, here you go.

The SEC and Big 12 tie for the No. 1 spot and would have each had 14 teams participate in the mini-playoff, a fact that becomes more intriguing when you realize that the 28 combined appearances account for a full half of the all-time possible slots.

Coming in at No. 3 is the Pac-12, who has had nine teams finish in the top four since 1998, and then at No. 4 is the Big Ten with eight.

After that, things get a bit muddled with the Big East with five, the ACC with four and the MWC with two (both TCU). The reason the Big East and ACC results are cloudy is because both Virginia Tech and Miami (Fla.) moved from the Big East to the ACC after the 2003 season.

For all the numbers listed, top four finishers were credited to their conference home at the time.

At the end of the day, it's fairly clear to see why the Big Ten and Delany are taking the necessary precautions to foster BCS change that doesn’t include the current mathematical formula making the playoff determination.

Otherwise, they would arguably become the No. 4 conference in the land—that is, if they aren't already there.

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