By Jess Nicholas, TideFans.com Editor-In-Chief
May 16, 2012
The months of May, June and July rarely hold much interest for most college football fans, but a high-profile quarterback commitment and a conference commissioner going completely out to lunch have highlighted a promising start to the sport’s offseason.
Big Ten’s Delany steps in it big-time
Jim Delany looked into the mirror, and looking back, he saw Alexander Haig.
Delany might as well have held a press conference to assert that he “is in control here” and would shepherd college football’s latest attempt at a mock playoff system through various legal and ethical (read: what’s best for the Big Ten) loopholes.
He didn’t go that far, but he has put himself out there as the go-to authority on postseason realignment. In the process, he took a shot at the 2011 Alabama national championship team (then later tried to say he was misquoted) before obviously backtracking from his initial positions – probably because the SEC and its allies informed him, behind the scenes, that what Delany wants and what Delany gets might be mutually exclusive.
Delany also spent a lot of time talking about the history and pageantry of the Rose Bowl, the sanctity of it even, and how the traditional matchup of Big Ten and PAC-12 teams dated back to the mid-40s. But a look at Rose Bowl records proves the “traditional” matchup was more a matchup of convenience or politics, the latter surrounding the issue of segregation at schools in the South and other areas.
From the 1946 season backwards to 1902, the Rose Bowl had a more open invitation policy. In 27 of those years, a PAC-12 or Big Ten team (conferences carried different names at the time, of course) faced off against a non-PAC-12/Big Ten team. The PAC-12/Big Ten team won 14 times, lost 10 times and tied 3 times – a nice record, but not dominating. Alabama went 4-1-1 in six Rose Bowls and blew out Southern Cal 34-14 in the 1946 game, which likely had something to do with the change in format the following year. It certainly didn’t hurt the case, at least.
As such, allowing the Rose Bowl to become an isolationist affair means there is very little reason to keep the sanctity of a Big Ten/PAC-12 matchup intact when moving forward. The Big Ten/PAC-12 wasn’t dominating the bowl prior to 1946, and the importance of the games went downhill afterwards. From 1946 to 2000, the pre-BCS era, a No. 1 team was involved in a Rose Bowl game only seven times. Only twice did the Rose Bowl field a 1-2 matchup.
In other words, what’s there to protect? The nation isn’t crying out for what amounts to the preservation of an interconference grudge match. For Delany to suggest such, or to suggest teams like Alabama be left out of a playoff just so a conference champion from a lesser conference be included, is ridiculous.
Cooper Bateman pulled the trigger on his commitment Wednesday, and Alabama fans want to see him pull the trigger on many touchdown passes in the future.
Bateman will likely be considered a top-five quarterback before the 2012-2013 recruiting cycle is done. He has the chance to rise as high as the No. 2 spot, as only Southern Cal commitment Max Browne seems to be clearly ranked above him. In a deep class of pocket passers, Bateman’s talent and mental makeup make him a prize.
It also doesn’t hurt that Bateman’s commitment to Alabama hurts rival Auburn in the process. Bateman was considered by most observers to also be Auburn’s top target. As the Tigers move to a pro-style attack, it is incumbent upon AU to sign a quarterback fit for that offense. With Browne and Bateman off the board, as well as Connor Mitch (South Carolina), the pool of difference-makers is shrinking.
Seminoles start a semi-riot
Florida State drug the topic of conference realignment out of the closet again, doused it in lighter fluid and lit it with an industrial-sized butane torch this week, publicly making overtures to the Big 12.
The Big 12 must feel like a pro wrestling mid-carder at the moment, left for dead by the big boys in the SEC, then suddenly finding itself back in favor when the ACC tag team implodes, breaks up and looks for someone else to team with.
If Florida State is just rattling sabers, nothing else is likely to happen. But if Florida State were to jump to the Big 12 – with, say, Clemson – full-bore realignment is back in the cards. And that means the SEC gets a second bite at the apple.
Rumors are bubbling that the SEC has approached North Carolina about joining the SEC, but that shouldn’t be taken as an endorsement of likelihood. The SEC was said to have spoken with North Carolina, Duke, Virginia and Virginia Tech the last time realignment was discussed, and the league came up dry with each. The real question is whether the SEC would invite both Duke and North Carolina together, which might be required for that particular scenario to come to pass.
All we have now is fodder for a rumor-filled summer.