Big Ten Links: Digging Deeper Into Playoff News

Buzz about college football’s new playoff continues. What did you expect? It’s only the biggest change to hit the sport in … forever. For instance, did you see how Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press thinks the new playoff will leave out the Big Ten. Sharp makes some interesting points.Read about that and more in this post.

Check it out:

“If the principal criteria are quality wins and conference championships, you’ll see little deviation in the top-four teams from what the polls and computers produced the past 15 years.

“The Southeastern Conference has had at least one team in the final regular-season top four in 11 of the BCS’s 14 years. The Big 12 is 10-for-14.

“The Big Ten has had a team in the final-four rankings only six times in 14 years.

“Notre Dame has no final-four rankings.

“There is nothing “geographically balanced” about college football. It’s a Sun Belt-dominated sport. A playoff will exacerbate that disproportion.

“The biggest winner in all this is the SEC-Big 12 marriage.”

I’m not ready to start shoveling dirt on any league at this point. Things in life have a way of going in cycles. The Big Ten? It can be a consistent part of this playoff equation, especially given the influx of some top coaching talent in recent seasons.

Bottom line: Stay tuned, America.

Wolverines! With a playoff here, it’s fun to look back and wonder who would have benefited most from one in the past. The 2006 Michigan squad certainly would have. Read about it here.

It’s also interesting to wonder how the 1997 Wolverine team that won a share of the national crown would have fared in a four-team playoff.

I think the 1997 team would have done better than the 2006 unit based on a standout defense led by Charles Woodson, Dhani Jones and Sam Sword, among others.

What if …? Would Penn State have won more national titles in a playoff system? Mark Wogenrich of The Morning Call doesn’t think so. Wogenrich says a playoff might have given the Nittany Lions a chance to win six more championships. And Penn State likely would have qualified eight times since 1968 in a four-team playoff. Wogenrich takes a look at how the playoffs may have unfolded in Penn State’s big seasons.

Beat goes on: Rob Oller of the Columbus Dispatch says a four-team playoff won’t end arguments.

Oller is correct. A four-team playoff will exclude some good teams. But now, instead of teams No. 3 and No. 4 complaining, teams No. 5 and No. 6 will beef. Oh, well. The argument to be included is weaker the farther down the rankings, Oller points out.

Oller goes on to offer some advice to ensure great quality in the four-team field that I like a lot He thinks to ensure the integrity of the regular season, it should be mandated that any college team with three losses automatically would miss the playoffs, while those with two losses would need a top-five strength of schedule to qualify. It is good news that the committee will give weight to conference championships.

Still, schools and fans will complain about being left out regardless of what’s written in black and white.

In other non-playoff news ….

Wildcats wait: The waiting soon may be over for USC receiver transfer Kyle Prater and Northwestern. The parties expect to hear from the NCAA in July regarding Prater being eligible this season or having to wait until 2013.

Even if Prater isn’t eligible, the Wildcats may have the best collection of receivers in the Big Ten on a corps that also includes Christian Jones, Tony Jones, Rashad Lawrence and Demetrius Fields. Prater, a Chicago native, left USC to help care for an ill family member.

Schedule updates: Michigan announced some future schedules. And someone was missing: Notre Dame. The Irish and Wolverines will take a two-year hiatus, not playing in 2018-19.

This isn’t unprecedented, America. ND and Michigan also took two-year breaks in 1983-84; 1995-96; 2000-01. Michigan A.D. David Brandon says the schools will pick up their rivalry in 2020. But who will the Wolverines play in 2018-19 with a void left by the Irish?

Brandon says he wants to make these two-year breaks “special for our fans, and do something unique.”

There are lots of possibilities, including a neutral site game vs. a heavyweight similar to this year’s tilt vs. Alabama in Arlington, Texas.

We can only hope.

Hey juniors: If Iowa is going to reverse a trend that has seen its win total drop from 11 in 2009, to eight in 2010, to seven last season, it likely will need lots of help from a strong class of juniors.

Some of the key juniors to watch in Iowa City are tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, linebackers Christian Kirksey and James Morris.

Of course, it also goes without saying that the running game needs to develop, along with a defense that has some major concerns on the line. Oh, and Kirk Ferentz also is breaking in new coordinators on both sides of the ball for the first time since taking over the Hawkeyes in 1999.

Let’s go ahead and call this a crucial season for Iowa in an uber-tough Legends Division.

Nice digs: Speaking of Iowa, take a 360 virtual tour of the Hawkeyes’ new indoor practice facility. Pretty sweet, eh?

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: Yes, it’s no secret: Defense is the key for Nebraska to climb the food chain in the tough Legends Division. It’s about getting bigger, stronger and tougher.

My take: Thursday night football is great from an exposure standpoint. In fact, I wonder if the Big Ten would consider having a Thursday night game each week of the season. Hmmmm.

My take: I agree. An eight-team playoff wouldn’t harm the sanctity of the regular season. And no one can tell me any differently, no matter how big of a desk they sit behind, how many degrees they have hanging on the wall or how much hardware is in their trophy case.

My take: And thank goodness for that!

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is on Twitter and Facebook, all of his work is at btn.com/tomdienhart, and you can subscribe to it all via his RSS feed. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below.

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