Quick Slants: 6-6 bowl teams here to stay, for now

Expect a parity component in conference schedules

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March 28, 2014 | 3:24 pm

-- Big Ten athletics directors and commissioner Jim Delany were unanimous in their desire to make 7-5 the minimum record for bowl teams, but with so many bowls, they conceded that isn't possible and accept that 6-6 teams will be bowl eligible in the Big Ten.

"We were hoping the 6-6 would go to 7-5. It didn't and we're not going to do that unilaterally," Delany said. "We think the bowl system would be better off with a 7-5 situation. We thought for a while that we were headed in that direction, but it's obvious we're not. If we have a 6-6 bowl team, it's up to us to find a place for them."

-- The College Football Playoff will have a selection committee element to it. During the three days here in Chicago, two candidates emerged from the Big Ten region, Wisconsin athletics director Barry Alvarez and retired Nebraska coach and athletics director Tom Osborne.

Another consensus, it won't be a job for the meek.

"Whoever it is, get that flak jacket ready," Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith said. "This isn't going to be a panacea. One and two might be clear cut, but four and five and six, it's going to be the same old debate we've always had. . . . Whatever the number, there has to be integrity."

Smith participated in a mock selection committee with Sports Illustrated recently. The experience was a nightmare, so he gladly nominated Alvarez.

"You'll occasionally here a legislator get angry about a team not getting the 68th spot in the NCAA tournament," Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said. "When you're talking about only four spots, the intensity level of No. 5 through about No. 15 , it's going to be magnified 20 times greater than the 69th team that doesn't get in.

"It's going to take somebody who knows and loves the game of football, somebody who can receiving a lot of external pressure but who is not willing to compromise whatever system is developed and just pick the best four they think fit best."

-- It sounds as though the 2014-15 football schedules will come out yet this week. These will be the schedules that will include Maryland and Rutgers into the conference but won't yet have the nine-game conference schedule, which kicks in for 2016.

There was much talk this week about "parity-based scheduling." The historical powers in each division will face each other more for the first 18 years of this schedule cycle, beginning with 2014.

"We're trying to create better schedules going forward," Delany said. "We're playing more conference games and trying to get stronger non-conference schedules. That's challenging."

Delany acknowledged that the inventory for stronger non-conference opponents might be scarce. He mentioned possibly getting help from ESPN, which has a database of available games.

"With fewer non-conference games and a higher bar for playing stronger teams," Delany said, "we're going to have to monitor that. The goal is to strengthen schedules. . . . That's the direction we want to go, but it takes a real focused effort. You're cutting into a much smaller group of available schools."

What does this mean for Iowa? Barta said Iowa tells the Big Ten what its principles in scheduling are (Iowa State, seven home games, prefer contiguous states) and then it's a negotiation. The Big Ten applies the "principles" and then tells Iowa what its schedule is going to be.

"Competitive balance is one of the principles [in scheduling]," Barta said. "One of the other principles is to have a student-athlete play every other Big Ten school at least once in their four years. . . .

"You figure over a 10-year period, it's going to be fair. In one particular year, you might look at yourself and your coach and say, 'Boy, this one doesn't feel as good as last year's or maybe three years from now.' The principles have been put in place and we all like and agree on the principles."

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