Rosemont, Ill. — There aren't many people around the Big Ten who have an issue with the first season of the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State, a team that midway through the season many didn't think would be considered, upset Alabama before beating Oregon to win the national championship. And Michigan State reached one of the New Year's Six bowls, rallying to beat Baylor and finish No. 5 in the nation.
"There's energy around Big Ten football in a way I haven't seen in a while," conference commissioner Jim Delany said on Wednesday at the Big Ten's spring meetings. "I'm really excited about that."
Of course, it's easy to be happy when winning is thrown in the mix. It's even bigger when you don't get left out.
That happened with the Big 12, which doesn't have a conference championship game, and its co-champions — Baylor and TCU — were left on the outside of the playoff. It has even more folks saying the days of moving to an eight-team playoff will come soon.
However, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, a member of the selection committee, defended the choice to keep the Big 12 teams out of the group that also included Florida State.
"One of the criteria we have in deciding the rankings of our final four is conference champions, and that is one of the first ones mentioned," Alvarez said. "If you don't have a conference champion, then obviously that doesn't bode well for you. You have to have a conference champion. If not, it hurts your evaluation much like strength of schedule.
"(The Big 12) didn't have one, they had co-champions. … You can't have two champions. You can't give two teams credit."
The Big 12 has said there are no imminent plans to add a conference championship game, but Alvarez said that won't spark a push to expand the playoff field.
"I read something yesterday where it said the fact nothing was changed speaks volumes about the first year," he said. "I hear a lot of talk about (expansion), but all you have to do is visit with (Ohio State coach) Urban Meyer about the wear and tear on players and the time it takes. I think four is a good number. I mean, we just started and it was very positive in every way. The first thing people want to talk about is change, and it's a 12-year contract. So I like it at four, and I think it's the right number of games."
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said the experience for his players was, obviously, a positive one. But he would have concerns about expanding the field, noting the physical toll it took on the team.
"Could they (play another game)?" he said. "Sure. But we had some injuries, no doubt. We had a nice gap between the Big Ten Championship Game and the Sugar Bowl. But we still had guys who were recovering from the finale of the regular season when we play that team up north, that's a tough game for us, and then we have to turn around and play the championship game. That was a tough turnaround for us.
"If we go to eight, the whole model changes. It's not going to January, it's going backward."
Detroit bidding for game
What is certain about the next two years of playoffs is that the title game will be played this season in Glendale, Arizona, and the following year in Tampa, Florida. Bidding for the games in 2018-20 is taking place now, and Detroit and Minneapolis — two cities in the Big Ten footprint — are in the mix.
They join Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Houston; Miami/South Florida; San Antonio; and Santa Clara, California.
Alvarez would be happy to see the game played in the Midwest.
"Anything that is close for us," he said. "We always travel south. As long as it is indoors. It would be nice for our people to be able to drive to a game of that magnitude. But it is also nice to go to a game of that magnitude and get a little relief from the weather, but I think it would be good."
Alvarez is also open to the Big Ten championship game moving from Indianapolis, but he's not ready to play it in an outdoor stadium like Chicago's Soldier Field.
"I would have a hard time voting for a game outside," he said. "I know purists say football is supposed to be played outside. But I don't want elements to have a factor in a game of that magnitude."
1 and done: 'Shame on us'
The one-and-done phenomena in college basketball is a bad deal, and Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips isn't happy about it.
"Frankly speaking, shame on us," said Phillips, who is also chair of the NCAA Division I Council. "We've allowed the National Basketball Association to dictate what our rules are, or influence what our rules are at the collegiate level."
The minimum-age requirement put in place by the NBA's collective bargaining agreement in 2005 has sparked the trend of players leaving college after one season. The CBA expires in 2021, though the league or the union may opt out in 2017, and that leaves the door open for a change to the rule.
As it stands now, Phillips doesn't like the fact college teams are essentially a minor-league system and vows changes need to be made.
"Why have we accepted that?" he said. "Why have we just allowed that to happen without any pushback? Nobody feels great about kids going to school for a semester and then leaving. That's crazy. It's absurd. So we've got to fix it."