SBD/August 15, 2012/Colleges

Delany Keeps Big Ten In Prime Position As College Football Heads Toward Playoff

Delany's flexibility helped ensure Big Ten's position in new college landscape
College football is “headed for a brave new world,” and the Big Ten is “better positioned than most to thrive in it, thanks to some hard-fought victories eked out" by Commissioner Jim Delany, according to Austin Murphy of Delany is “widely regarded as one of the smartest men in college athletics,” and has “long been accustomed to dictating terms, calling the shots.” However, in the “high-stakes drama that dominated this past offseason -- shaping the format of the Football Bowl Subdivision’s now-inevitable playoff -- he found himself working with less leverage than usual.” Delany and his allies nevertheless "were flexible and open-minded” as the SEC “basically drew a line in the sand -- a four-team college football playoff should include the four best teams, period." Murphy: "A once-and-former anti-playoff zealot, Delany became a kind of shape-shifting pragmatist. Rather than engage the SEC head-on, he employed skirmishing tactics." His "strategy was basically to throw a bunch of ideas against the wall and see what stuck." In the end, the Big Ten “came out ahead of where it would have if the commissioner had been less willing to compromise.” The selection committee determined it is going to choose "the ‘best four teams’ -- but with an emphasis on conference champions.” That “emphasis” was a “win for Delany and the Big Ten.” Murphy: "Thanks to Delany's insistence that conference champions be given most-favored-nation status, as it were, Big Ten teams will show up more often in the national title mix than they would have otherwise" (, 8/13).
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