"There's no judge or jury in the world that can make you enter into a four-team, eight-team or 16-team playoff." Big TenlevenTwelve Commissioner Jim Delany told USA Today. Delany was reacting to the news that Assistant US Attorney General Christine Varney had dispatched a letter of inquiry on the Bowl Championship Series to NCAA President Mark Emmert, asking three “tough questions” about the NCAA’s lack of—and plans for—a playoff system to determine the Football Bowl Subdivision national champions.
The Department of Justice Antitrust Division growled at the wrong guy—Emmert has about as much power to establish an FBS playoff as I do. But one of the right guys growled back. Delany was also quoted by USA Today about what might happen should the courts find a way to dismantle the multi-million collusion between six big boy conferences and four big boy bowl games. “We know what [the college football postseason once] was, and we know what is, now.”
How would you like to be perhaps the only school to have been screwed out of a national championship by not one, but both systems?
Following the 1983 season, Auburn went into the Sugar Bowl against Michigan ranked #3 in the nation. Miami, Ranked #5, was paired against top ranked Nebraska in the Orange Bowl while #2 Texas faced #7 Georgia in the Cotton Bowl. Georgia defeated Texas, Miami held on to beat Nebraska. But poor Auburn, which played rather poorly but defeating Michigan 9-7, got jumped by Miami, who was awarded the consensus national championship.
That’s the system that we’d go back to in the absence of the BCS.
But the BCS has been just as cruel to Auburn as the good old days were. Fast forward to 2004, when Oklahoma and Southern Cal began the season as the two top ranked teams in the country, stayed that way all season long. Auburn also ended the season undefeated, but Oklahoma met Southern Cal for the BCS Championship, with the Trojans blowing out the Sooners for the title.
Auburn got screwed again.
The program is the only major conference program to have had the door slammed in their faces by both the old flawed system and the new flawed system. Would a playoff—or even a plus one system—have gotten the Tigers either one of those titles? Who knows.
We do know that Delany is right, though. No court can force the creation of such a system because the school presidents of the FBS institutions hold that power.
But if they ever needed a poster child for doing so, they need to look no further than Auburn University.