Southeastern Conference president Michael Adams has accused the Big Ten and Pac 10 conferences, along with the Rose Bowl, of being "the largest impediment" to the implementation of a playoff system at the highest level of college football.
Adams, an Ohio State graduate who has been the president of the University of Georgia since 1997 and is the chairman of the NCAA executive committee, chastised his former school as well.
"I have good friends [there], I have two degrees from Ohio State, I love Ohio State," he said. "But this is not a way to serve the country."
Adams, who pitched his plan in a softer context during the NCAA's Division I Board of Directors' current meeting in Nashville, took a little spicier tack when he appeared on XM Radio's Sports Nation recently with political pundit and rabid SEC fan James
Carville, who co-hosts 60/20 Sports on XM.
Adams essentially claimed that the Big Ten has had unworthy participants in the title game. Ohio State is the only Big Ten team to make the BCS championship game, and the Buckeyes have done so three times, including the past two.
"You see, what we have now is a system where the Big Ten has the opportunity to most every year get a team into the national championship game that, based on their performance, would not get there through a playoff system," Adams said. "So, they are not dumb people."
The plan promoted by Adams would have an NCAA committee select eight teams and seed them for a three-round playoff. He has called for the quarterfinal games to be played as the Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta bowls, with the semifinals taking place on the second Saturday in January, and the national championship game on the third Saturday.
Adams has criticized the current Bowl Championship Series format, which uses polls and computers to rank teams, as nothing but a "beauty contest" run by television and a few conference commissioners. He pointed the finger at forces inside the Big Ten and Pac 10, saying they are protecting their own stake at the expense of others.
"The biggest flaw with the current system is that the self-preservation interests take precedent over the needs of the kids, the teams, the coaches and the universities that put all of this together," said Adams, who has been accused of banging the playoff drum with Georgia's interests in mind.
"The bowls have contributed a lot through the years. My proposal acknowledges that, and keeps them in the system. But they ought not be making ultimate decisions based on their individual needs, without regard to the national need."
Adams, who just last year voted against a playoff plan proposed by University of Florida president Bernard Machen, defended his apparent flip-flop. Adams said the BCS has produced "bad matchups" most of the time, and "this year was the tipping point.
"We had probably the best regular season ever, with the worst postseason ever," he said. "And it's because so many of these entrenched constituencies have a self-preservation interest here. I just finally said, 'Enough is enough.'•"
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney has said repeatedly that the conference supports the current system and is strongly opposed to a playoff in any form.
Adams, who holds two postgraduate degrees from Ohio State, offered the Rose Bowl, the Big Ten and the Pac 10 a bitter compromise that would leave them out of the championship game tournament, and move another bowl into the open slot.
"The Rose Bowl is certainly within their rights. It's a great event, a great tradition," he said, "But I think the Cotton Bowl or the Chik-fil-A - assuming the other three bowls went along and the Rose Bowl didn't - I think we could find a fourth bowl to come in and do what I've suggested."
Carville pointed out what a potent recruiting tool that scenario would provide for the SEC and Big 12 - if they could offer recruits the chance to play for a national championship, while the Big Ten and Pac 10 teams would forfeit that opportunity.
"Some of them have figured out that the preservation of the current system is in their own self-interest," Adams said, "and that is what I think we need to get people to apply some pressure on."
Contact Matt Markey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6510.