So maybe all of you college football playoff supporters are going to get your wish after all--courtesy of your friend and mine, the great Jim Delany, commissioner of the Big Ten, and the most powerful man in college sports.
On Thursday, Rivals.com/Yahoo college football writer Tom Dienhart posted via his Twitter account that the latest "buzz" about Big Ten expansion had the league expanding with five teams--Syracuse, Pitt, Rutgers, Missouri and Nebraska. That news was interesting in its own right (I mean, let's face it: grabbing Nebraska would be an absolute coup for the Big Ten). But then Dienhart added an even more interesting tibidt: That upon adding those five teams, the Big Ten would then split up not into two divisions (as the Big 12, SEC and ACC have) but rather four divisions.
Yes, four divisions.
Those divisions would break down as follows (the names are mine):
The Extremely Cold Division: Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota
The Division Ohio State Will Win Every Year: Ohio State, Purdue, Indiana, Illinois/Northwestern
The 'Hey, Remember the Big 8?' Division: Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois/Northwestern
The Big East: Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse.
My reaction to this potential alignment?
I think this would be awesome. Almost incomprehensibly awesome. And you know what? I think it actually has a chance of happening.
We have been hearing for months now that, if and when Delany makes his move, he's going to make a big move. He hasn't come right out and said it, but you can tell, folks: With this expansion, Delany aims to not only make the Big Ten rich beyond all belief, but utterly change the entire college football landscape as well. A 16-team, four-division behemoth would certainly accomplish both of those goals.
Let's start with the obvious benefits of this plan. Yes, adding five teams--two to the West, three to the East--would dramatically expand the Big Ten's footprint and, by extension, provide millions upon millions of new viewers for the ultra-lucrative Big Ten network. Yes, poaching a traditional power such as Nebraska would enhance the league's football reputation. And yes, becoming college football's first super-conference would instantly make the Big Ten the most talked about, most marketable and most important league in the nation.
But there's more, folks. A lot more. Like ... the playoff issue.
Take a look at that four-division format. I mean, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that such an alignment would not lend itself to SEC/ACC/Big 12 championship game format.
But do you know what it does lend itself to?
A four-team playoff.
Yes, that's right, folks. The Big Ten just might be on the cusp of creating the first-ever and long-awaited college football playoff system. It's just nobody else but Big Ten teams will be invited.
Every discussion about Big Ten expansion, of course, begins and ends with the subject of money. Money is why the Big Ten wants to expand. Money is why the Big Ten can expand. Money is what the Big Ten wants when it finally does expand. And let's face it, a four-team Big Ten playoff in December would make a ton of money.
Think, for a moment, about college basketball's conference tournaments. Think, specifically, about the bonanza that is the Big East Tournament up in New York City. In many ways, that tournament is meaningless--certainly, Big East teams want to win the league tourney, but at the end of the day, the national championship is the real prize--and yet even still, it is an absolute joy to watch, each and every year. Teams play their hearts out. Fans tune in on ESPN and pack Madison Square Garden. It has become one of the signature events of the sports calendar.
But the thing is, the Big East Tournament didn't always exist. In fact, it's only been around since 1980. College basketball was around before the Big East tournament, and college basketball was good before the Big East Tournament. But now college basketball has the Big East Tournament, and college basketball is better for it.
Now, back to football.
College football, of course, has never had a 16-team super-conference. College football has never had a playoff of any kind. And college football has certainly never had anything like the Big East hoops tournament.
But maybe that's about to change--and maybe, as a result, college football is about to become so much better than we ever could have imagined.
Photo: Missouri and Nebraska to the Big Ten? Sure, why not? They've certainly got Big Ten weather. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Follow me on Twitter: @timhyland.