Big Ten exploring football playoff

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 7 2012 11:28 p.m. MST

The Big Ten Conference, which helped squash the notion of a four-team playoff to crown a national champion in college football several years ago, is taking another look.

BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said Tuesday night that's good news.

"Our process is working perfectly," Hancock said. "One of good things about our process is that there's no timetable so that a deliberate and thoughtful decision can be reached.

"The tricky part is our 11 conference commissioners and the Notre Dame AD may have 12 different opinions about the direction we should go over the next six to eight months."

Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said all of the Big Ten athletic directors are comfortable exploring the possibility of a four-team playoff.

"Four is better than two," Hollis said.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith agreed and said the discussions stem from feedback "that we need to do something different," especially after the recent BCS title game between LSU and Alabama drew lower ratings that other championship games.

"The fans have been loud and clear," Smith said. "We also recognize that structurally there's things that we want to try and change with the bowl system — how teams get in the bowls. It's time to be curious about everything."

The BCS title game pits the nation's top two teams based on poll and computer rankings. The Chicago Tribune reported Monday that one idea before the Big Ten calls for playing the two semifinal games on the campuses of the higher seeded teams, with the national championship held in a city awarded hosting rights — like the Super Bowl.

The so-called plus-one format — two semifinals plus the title game — was proposed in 2008 by the commissioners of the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference. It was shot down by the leaders of the Big Ten, Pac-10, Big East, Big 12 and Notre Dame.

MEMPHIS IS JOINING BIG EAST:Memphis is the latest school to sign up for a spot in the new Big East Conference.

A person familiar with the decision says Memphis is joining the Big East for all sports in 2013. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because an official announcement would be made today.

The Big East announced it would hold a teleconference with Commissioner John Marinatto, University of Memphis President Shirley C. Raines and Memphis Athletic director R.C. Johnson, though it did not give any details about what would be discussed.

Johnson said a new conference would be held in Memphis after the teleconference to discuss the university's athletic affiliation.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) couldn't wait until the news became official to celebrate.

"I am thrilled that my hometown team and alma mater the University of Memphis is being invited to join the Big East," Cohen said in a statement. "Joining the Big East will not only be great for the University of Memphis, but it will be an economic catalyst for the City of Memphis.

"Thanks to Louisville Coach Rick Pitino for his strong support. And Congratulations to Dr. Shirley Raines and R.C. Johnson."

The Tigers will become the fourth Conference USA team to move to the Big East in the last two months, along with Houston, Central Florida and SMU.

Memphis is the seventh future member the Big East has added in the last two months, but the first that brings more value in basketball than football. The Tigers haven't had a winning record in football since 2007, but the men's basketball team has been a Top 25 mainstay.

The Big East is trying to replace basketball powers Syracuse and Pittsburgh and West Virginia, and create a football league with at least 12 teams. Syracuse and Pittsburgh are leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference and West Virginia is headed to the Big 12.

The Big East has been adding new future members for the last two months. In December, Boise State and San Diego State agreed to join for football only in 2013, along with SMU, UCF and Houston. Last month, the Big East announced Navy will become a football-only member in 2015.

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS