ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, who has floated ideas for how a four-team college football playoff should be set up, said Wednesday that any new format shouldn't include a team that doesn't win its division.
"I don't have a lot of regard for that team," Delany said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I certainly wouldn't have as much regard for that team as I would for someone who played nine conference games in a tough conference and played a couple out-of-conference games on the road against really good opponents. If a poll doesn't honor those teams and they're conference champions, I do."
Alabama finished behind LSU in the SEC West last season, but the Crimson Tide got a spot in the Bowl Championship Series title game and beat the Tigers.
Delany insisted he isn't pushing for a particular format to be implemented for the 2014 season. He said a proposal that would put four conference champions, ranked among the top six, into the four-team playoff was simply an idea he discussed with reporters last week in Chicago.
"Some people think it should just be the top four teams; some people think it should just be the four highest-rated champions," Delany said. "I was just floating some ideas of how you might have a hybrid where champions were respected and there was still room for at-large.
"The polls don't always measure strength of schedule. Some conferences are playing nine games, some are playing eight. The Pac-12 is playing nine and then to go out and play a round-robin game against us, that's 10 and some of them are going to play Notre Dame — that's 11 difficult games. If they're ranked fifth in the country and they won a conference championship, I think that's quite an accomplishment. Some teams don't even win their own division. They started off highly in the rankings, lose early, don't play a championship game and they might end up at four."
BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock has said 11 conference commissioners and Notre Dame's athletic director will present a "small number" of options — two to seven configurations — for a four-team playoff to their leagues at conference meetings.
The group of decision-makers will gather again in June, attempting to agree on a final version for university presidents to potentially approve by July 4.