Big Ten's Jim Delany favors raising bowl threshold to 7 wins, reworking ticket distribution
Associated Press file photo
CHICAGO -- Eat too much ice cream, you'll get a brain freeze.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is getting a brain freeze when he thinks about how 6-6 teams are diluting the bowl experience.
"There are more people going to more bowls, and there’s maybe too much ice cream," he said Tuesday at the Hotel Sofitel Chicago Water Tower in Chicago. "I think maybe you have too much of a good thing sometimes."
Delany is meeting this week with his league's athletic directors, as they try to hash out the details of their preferred playoff model. But they've also talked bowls, and the Big Ten seems to be taking an uncommon position.
The league wants fewer of its teams to go to bowls, and wants to take less money to do it.
Delany said he favors raising the bowl-eligibility threshold from six wins to seven in the Big Ten."You got too much of a good thing -- too much ice cream -- maybe too many bowl games, too many 6-6 seasons," Delany said. "If there’s not unanimity (among Big Ten athletic directors), there’s a very strong consensus that 7-5 is a better standard than 6-6. A winning record.
"We experimented with the 12th game, we experimented with the 6-6, but we think it’s better for our programs, better for our fans and better for the bowl system, for us to have a winning season in order to qualify. ... For us, I think it means redefining a successful year at 7-5."
Delany said he's spoken with Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon, and the pair appear to be in concert on this issue. Brandon told Delany during deliberations that he went 29-1-1 in his three-year Michigan playing career, but went to only one bowl game.
Delany isn't arguing for that conservative of a model. But he certainly appears to have tired of seeing so many mediocre teams play in the postseason.
The Big Ten has sent 6-6 teams to bowl games 11 times since 2002, when 12-game seasons became the norm. That leads the country.
The league's record in those games is just 4-7. Michigan didn't play in any of them.
But this is about more than losses. Delany said it's also about the fan experience. He noted he's opposed to the ticket guarantees that gouge many schools bound for mid- and low-tier bowls.
Bowl contracts call for participating schools to buy pre-determined ticket allotments, then reselling them to the public. Any losses incurred -- and they're common -- are absorbed by the conference, not the bowls.
Delany is in favor of reworking that system.
"I don’t think it’s necessary we take huge blocks of tickets in advance," he said. "It may be important for us to take a different payout, and have the upside be based on how that games sells.
"We want our fans to have access to good tickets, to reasonably priced tickets, and to use technology to make sure the demand and supply curve works well. I don’t think it’s healthy to have so many tickets floating around.
"I think conferences and bowls, you’ll see restructured relationships. Maybe the payouts aren’t as high, but they’ll be predicated on the real demand for the game."
The Big Ten also could shuffle its bowl lineup, which expires after the 2013 season. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said he expects "it will change a little bit," and Delany indicated the same later in the day.
Delany said the bowl experience loses its fizz when five of the conference's tie-ins are located in just two states, Florida and Texas.