Jim Delany: CFP committee needs 'stronger commitment' to strength of schedule, conference titles

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany will retire on Jan. 1, 2020, with <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/teams/minnesota/" data-ylk="slk:Minnesota Vikings">Minnesota Vikings</a> executive Kevin Warren succeeding him. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany will retire on Jan. 1, 2020, with Minnesota Vikings executive Kevin Warren succeeding him. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

For the final time, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany addressed reporters to kick off Big Ten Media Days. He had plenty to say, especially about the College Football Playoff.

Delany, who is set to step away from his position on Jan. 1, 2020, lamented Ohio State being left out of the playoff two years in a row despite winning the Big Ten title. He also made it clear he believes the CFP selection committee needs a “stronger commitment” to strength of schedule and conference championships when determining its rankings.

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“The best I can hope for is that the College Football Playoff committee pays more attention to the founders’ effort to value strength of schedule as well as winning conference championships. The actual language in the founding document says, ‘when comparing teams with similar records and similar resumes, [the committee] should look at strength of schedule as well as winning conference championships,’” Delany said.

“Clearly Alabama and Clemson have separated themselves. But I'm not sure that the strength of schedule or the conference championship has been adequately rewarded, in my personal view.”

Delany also said discussions surrounding the expansion of the CFP will undoubtedly continue.

“I would say with the four-team playoff, it's ironic we've doubled the access but I think more than doubled the feeling of exclusion when you're not in. But we try not to let that define us,” Delany said. “If there is an eight-team playoff, [the Big Ten] probably would have had eight or nine teams in it over the last five years. So we're built to compete for championships, and I think there will continue to be discussions around the expansion.”

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Big Ten won’t stray from 9-game league schedule

In 2016, the Big Ten moved to a nine-game conference schedule while also mandating a non-conference game against another Power Five opponent. The added difficulty to the schedules of member schools has not exactly helped in terms of College Football Playoff berths as indicated by Delany’s comments on strength of schedule.

Despite this, Delany does not want the league to move back to its eight-game conference schedule.

“We decided we wanted to have better games for our stadiums and for our fan base and for our players, so we went from eight to nine. It happened to dovetail with some of the criteria that was developed by the founders of the CFP, but it wasn't done because of the CFP. It was done much more to create in-stadium attractiveness, television attractiveness, and as conferences expanded, we felt we wanted to play each other more, not less,” Delany said.

“I've been disappointed, quite honestly, about the strength of schedule. I said it earlier. I said it last year. We're not going to change. There may be pressure to change, but I think that's short-selling our fans, our players, our TV partners, and I'm hoping that the committee catches up with the intent of the founders. And if you look around the country, there's more and more discussion, not necessarily about nine games but about playing better games.”

Additionally, Delany agreed with the sentiment of Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who said he would like to see uniformity across college football where all Power Five teams play a schedule with 10 Power Five opponents.

NCAA not on board with injury reports

Last year, Delany was upfront about his hope for mandatory injury reporting in college football. Delany made his stance known with it becoming increasingly clear that legalized sports betting was coming around the corner.

A year later, states across the country have legalized betting, but Delany said Thursday that a system requiring teams to disclose injuries won’t be coming to fruition anytime soon. The NCAA was not on board, he said.

“It doesn't look like that's going to get done,” Delany said. “The NCAA picked up on it, studied it, and at the end of the day, for a variety of reasons — and you can ask them what those reasons are — I pushed it pretty hard. Publicly, I pushed it pretty hard. Internally I worked with the groups that were studying it, but for their own reasons they have decided not to do that.”

Transition to Kevin Warren

The first day on the job for Kevin Warren, Delany’s successor, will be September 16, Delany said. From there, he and Delany will work side-by-side to get Warren acclimated to the position.

Delany said he has already spent a full day with Warren and spoken to him on the phone several times.

“We’ve got a plan. When he comes in, what we're trying to do is to use that time in a way that gives him a sense of the rhythm of the conference,” Delany said. “I don't think it will be awkward at all. We've got a really nice way with each other. I'm incredibly impressed by what he's done in his life, and kind of the skill set and person that he is. I think it's going to be a great fit.”

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