Jim Delany is the commissioner of the Big Ten conference. It seems like he should be a good guy. He played college basketball for Dean Smith at North Carolina, earning the captaincy in his senior year. After staying at UNC for law degree, he worked his way through college athletics until he became the Big Ten commissioner in 1989. Even ex-jocks lose their hair, tarnishing that “I was once a stud on the basketball court” look. But, according to the authors of the new book Death to the BCS, Jim Delany is the biggest reason college football lacks a playoff system. To Delany and the 5 other commissioners of the BCS conferences, a playoff system means losing power, and power means more than any increase in revenue.
It’s fortunate for the Big Ten that Delany looks after its interests in the back rooms since its teams are having all kinds of difficulty on the field. Here are the latest results from the Power Rank:
16. Ohio St., 6-1, 14.06
19. Michigan St., 6-0, 13.93
22. Wisconsin, 5-1, 12.60
23. Iowa, 4-1, 12.43
47. Illinois, 2-3, 3.22
48. Michigan, 4-2, 3.21
70. Northwestern, 4-1, -3.13
74. Purdue, 3-2, -3.79
78. Penn St., 2-3, -4.87
82. Minnesota, 1-5, -5.18
89. Indiana, 3-2, -8.88
The top four teams are in the bottom of the top 25, the next two teams are treading water above average, and the bottom five teams are in the bottom half of the 120 Division I football teams. In terms of out of conference wins, the Big Ten has two of note: an Ohio State win over Miami (+12) and a Wisconsin win over Arizona State (+1). Sorry, wins over Notre Dame don’t count this year. One could argue that Boise State, with wins over Virginia Tech (+3) and Oregon State (+13), has a better resume of out of conference wins. But the Power Rank accounts for margin of victory as well as wins and losses. To understand why this algorithm thinks so poorly of the Big Ten, let’s look at two games. Michigan State beat Florida Atlantic, the 90th team in the Power Rank, by 13 points. This result does not instill much confidence in the second best team in the league. Also, Wisconsin beat San Jose State, the 92nd team in the Power Rank, by 13 points at home. To put this in perspective, Boise State went to San Jose and blugeoned the Spartans 48-0.
It’s still early in the season, but the out of conference results look really poor for the Big Ten.
5. Stanford (4-1) 18.41. Nifty trick to zoom up 10 spots to #5 during a bye week. A two point win over USC looks much better after the Trojans pummel California by 34 points this past week.
10. USC (5-2) 16.01. Two weeks ago, USC, coached by not Pete Carroll, was 69th in the Power Rank. With a last minute two point loss to Stanford and a huge 34 point win over California, USC moves up to 10th.
18. San Diego State (3-2) 13.94. The Aztecs finally got a marque win over Air Force. We’ll find out later this season if they’re truly this good as San Diego State still has games with Utah and TCU.