Big 10 Commissioner Jim Delany has never been to the College World Series.With good reason. A Big 10 team has not reached this 8-team, final round of the NCAA Tournament since 1984.
In a long-ranging interview with the Omaha World-Herald, Delany complains about the relative unfairness of college baseball, particularly when it comes to his conference.
Teams in the northern states (where the Big 10 is based), simply can’t compete on the national level. They can’t practice outside or play any home games for the first month of the college baseball season, which begins in February. They also can’t recruit top players to their climates. Just because of their location, northern teams start every season in a hole that they can’t recover from.
He’s tried for years to get the NCAA to alter its rules so that northern teams get a better chance in the postseason (which would also increase interest in the sport, leading to more investment by northern athletic departments, which means better programs, which means more interest ….)
No luck. The NCAA tournament will continue to be dominated by warm weather schools for the foreseeable future. Which leads most college sports fans to say, “Tough rocks, Jim.”
Delany is right, of course. Shifting the schedule to warmer months (coinciding with the MLB season) and altering the selection criteria, would certainly balance the sport regionally and make things more “fair” for those with a geographical disadvantage.
But since when does Jim Delany care about fairness?
As commissioner of the Big 10, Delany – more than perhaps any other figure in college sports – is responsible for the abomination of the BCS. He has never once spoken up for a playoff. Never once defended the right of TCU and Boise State to have a “fair” shot at the national championship in football.
He has no problem defending a system that does not even allow for a football playoff, but thinks his conference needs a leg up succeeding the baseball one. How is that for fair?
The BCS system is the most unfair system there is. The Big 10 only got one team in the 64-team baseball tourney this year, but at least they get an automatic bid.
That’s one more team than any school not in the six automatic qualifier conferences has ever got into the one-game playoff that determines the national champion in football. The Mountain West would kill for that level of unfairness.
If Delany suddenly wants to stick up for “the little guy,” he should start by opening up his football cartel to the little guys who truly deserve a fair shake.
“That’s probably a fair criticism in some respects,” he said. “I haven’t really thought deeply about it.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.