Close your eyes and suppose again to once you had been a little child at the batting cages.
If you had been daring, you’d step into the cage with the 85 MPH heaters coming in. Your purpose was merely to make contact. A foul tip was adopted up with a fast flip of the head to your dad/buddies and a “did you see that?!?!” But finally, you’d whiff at pitch after pitch till actuality set in — you could not sustain.
That meant making your method over to the gradual pitch softball or the 55 MPH meatballs. Nobody goes to the batting cages to whiff at pitch after pitch. Everyone needs to make some stable contact, even when it means sheepishly admitting that you would be able to’t get round on college-level pitching.
That’s basically what the Big Ten is doing by discussing the concept of a 16-team Playoff. As we discovered on Tuesday at Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis, these talks are certainly occurring:
One new wrinkle that got here up when Big Ten ADs met this week about the playoff is elevated dialog about a 16-team playoff. OSU AD Gene Smith to ESPN: “Sixteen simply appears to be on the market. You cannot ignore it.”
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) July 26, 2022
For what it is value, Greg Sankey advised Thamel that the 16-team mannequin was being mentioned. I suppose a number of potentialities are on the desk now that The Alliance is now not a factor (what a blessed brief life it lived).
But if this is one thing that is really being mentioned, who do we predict is driving the bus? The commissioner of the league who dominated the 4-team Playoff in overwhelming trend or the commissioner of the league who gained simply 1 Playoff recreation in the 7 seasons after Ohio State claimed the first title of the 4-team Playoff?
It’s the latter.
In this occasion, 2014 Ohio State was actually greater than a foul tip on the 85 MPH heater. But since then? Yikes. In these final 7 seasons of the Playoff, the Big Ten:
- A) Went 1-5
- B) Had its 2 non-Ohio State groups get outscored 72-11
- C) Had its convention champion get overlooked 3 occasions
- D) Had a 4-season stretch with out a Playoff level
- E) All the above
It’s “E.” It’s at all times “E.”
Yes, the convention that had 1 program play for a nationwide title in the twenty first century had a tough go in the final 7 years. I’m sufficiently old to keep in mind when the Big Ten overtaking the SEC as the premier convention in the sport was a actual dialogue heading into the 2015 season. Since that second, the SEC performed in each nationwide title recreation and had 3 completely different packages win a mixed 5 titles.
The present 4-team Playoff won’t have stopped the Big Ten from establishing a rich annual TV income examine — it’s going to be in the billions as soon as it is introduced in the coming days/weeks — however from a aggressive standpoint, the system actually has ‘t been form to the convention.
Hence, why a 16-team subject would make sense. For them.
It’s not that the Big Ten lacks depth. It has that. It simply does not have groups who can win a title exterior of that squad in Columbus. We’ve obtained 2 many years value of knowledge that proves that time.
But what the Big Ten would profit from is a system that might reward a Round of 16 winner. Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and shoot, even Iowa may all win video games like that. The convention may brag about its depth as a substitute of the actuality that there is actually just one workforce with sufficient expertise to outlast a 16-team subject.
Instead of getting the Big Ten take it on the chin when the SEC has half of the 4-team subject, I really suppose the conferences may have a related variety of groups make a 16-team subject. If you look again on the final 5 years, they’ve the similar variety of mixed groups in the prime 16 of the ultimate Playoff ballot.
That’s the candy spot for the Big Ten. It’s getting 3-4 groups into a 16-team subject and hoping that Ohio State wins all of it OR hoping that truly profitable a Playoff recreation or 2 can elevate the expertise stage of Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa to a minimum of make the ultimate 4.
Speaking of Wisconsin, former CFP choice committee member and present Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez is an apparent advocate for Playoff growth:
Big Ten soccer advisor (and HOF coach) Barry Alvarez on CFP growth: “Someone talked to me about 16. I can dwell with that. I can dwell with 12. I can dwell with eight. We simply want to get greater than 4. We want extra entry to groups. I feel it makes faculty soccer higher.”
— Scott Dochterman (@ScottDochterman) July 26, 2022
And by “make faculty soccer higher,” Alvarez means “make Wisconsin higher.” His workforce has as many Playoff appearances as you, me and that 11-year-old child whiffing in the batting cage.
How many occasions has Wisconsin been in the prime 8 of the ultimate Playoff ballot? Three occasions. All of these got here in the final 6 seasons, too. As in, each different yr, the Badgers would’ve been a Playoff workforce or relying on the computerized qualifiers, they a minimum of would’ve been in prime place to get an at-large spot in the subject.
Also of be aware? Wisconsin is 0-6 vs. AP Top 4 groups in the final decade. Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, Miami and Florida State are a mixed 6-41 in opposition to AP Top 4 groups since 2012.
You can argue all you need that “having extra groups concerned is for the higher of the sport.” Shoot, Sankey admitted that. But any notion that having extra groups concerned will instantly flip the apparent hole between Tier 1 and Tier 2 is absurd. The SEC is the solely convention with a number of groups who gained a Playoff recreation:
- SEC: 3
- Big Ten: 1
- Pac-12: 1
- ACC: 1
- Big 12: 0
- Group of 5: 0
By the method, do not let anybody inform you that their motives are merely “for the good of the sport.” At least not anybody in energy. Even Sankey can admit that we’re in a enterprise during which there are billion-dollar TV contracts at stake.
We heard Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren communicate at Media Days about being “daring” and the way this is certainly a enterprise.
B1G’s Kevin Warren: “I’m a huge believer the purpose we’re dealing w/a lot of points we’re dealing w/at present is enterprise of faculty athletics has grown sooner than construction & the governance of faculty athletics.”
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) July 26, 2022
Say what you need about Warren and his apparent shortcomings as a commissioner so far, however it’s refreshing to hear the Big Ten pivot away from its stance that the whole lot is about preserving the integrity of beginner athletics. It’s not. If it was, we would not have billion-dollar TV contracts on the horizon. We do, although.
Playoff growth is coming, and it is most likely coming when the present deal runs out at the finish of the 2025 season. The Pac-12 and ACC are now not voting in opposition to their growth needs as a result of the Big Ten advised them to. The Alliance is useless, and shortly, whether or not we prefer it or not, the Playoff will increase. You do not have to prefer it. I count on many readers of this column will not be on board with that.
The actuality is that each one the non-SEC conferences have extra incentive than ever for Playoff growth. A richer TV contract and extra nationwide relevance is at play, even when the SEC continues to dominate the nationwide championship (I feel we are able to agree profitable 12 of the final 16 titles makes the verb “dominate” acceptable).
The 4-team Playoff was an excessive amount of warmth for the Big Ten. No matter what the subject expands to, it is clear what the mindset will likely be.
Find a extra approachable pace and check out to make some stable contact.