Bring it on, SEC.
As the resident Big Ten fan, I can assure you that we're not quite as insane as your misperception of what the bigwigs in charge of our conference (whom we don't like anyway) might lead you to believe. I have heard on local radio and read on many a website about how the Big Ten/PAC 12's insistence upon a "conference champions only" model (which no one in either conference has ever officially espoused) is a sign that the Big Ten is afraid of the big, bad SEC, that the Big Ten is trying to scheme their way into national titles that they wouldn't deserve more than most second place teams in the SEC, and that the Big Ten is becoming irrelevant.
For the moment, I am going to ignore the fact that this is an incredibly shortsighted view which ignores all history before roughly about eight or nine years ago (Sparknote's version: your freely acknowledged dominance isn't forever). With all due respect, most Big Ten fans I know think roughly four things about the SEC: 1) SEC: Home of Ron Zook and Chik-fil-a; 2) If it weren't for Vanderbilt, your slogan would be something like "Big time footbaww, Jr. College academics." 3) Dear God, just let us split the head to head record so we don't have to hear those crazy jerks in the SEC talk about how much better they are; 4) Michigan: the team that even Tim Tebow couldn't beat. As you see, only one of those shows any "fear" and it isn't spawned by a fear of defeat (we have a long, storied history of defeat in things like the Rose Bowl) so much as by a fear of having to listen to you talk about how another team in your conference beating another team in my conference proves... much of anything.
You see, the general Big Ten fan spends more time having friendly arguments with their traditional rivals and picking on Notre Dame than they ever, ever, ever do thinking about their particular ability to win National titles. Don't get me wrong: we want our schools to win titles and, yeah, it sucks that we haven't had a national title for a long time. But it's not unreasonable to think that in two or three years time the Big Ten will have a strong claim to being the best conference, or that the SEC will be on the outside looking in on a "best four teams" play-off structure.
What Big Ten fans are concerned with is not with four game play-offs or national title appearances: what Big Ten fans worry about is the future of college athletics. The current bowl system needs to be replaced with something that serves to funnel money into teams, not away from them. And yes, the Big Ten bigwigs are severely out of touch with their fan base in not agreeing with this. Conference expansion is right on the cusp of turning 6 and a half conferences into four conferences which not only act more like 8 conferences but put hundred year old rivalries at risk (there are even whispers that Alabama-UT is at risk... which probably won't happen, but shouldn't be discussed). Travel and ticket costs will serve to drive down opposing fan attendance at games like "South Carolina Vs. Missouri" and, more importantly, to increasingly irrelevant bowl games which are far, far away from Big Ten territory and which cost teams loads of money.
A stunning third place on this list is the fact that choosing the best two teams in the country isn't any easier than choosing the best four or eight or sixteen teams without some kind of limiting qualifications outside of both the coaches poll and computer rankings. A fair system that includes not only strong intra-conference scheduling to determine real conference champions on top of a real play-off that includes home games solves most of these issues.
But, of course, it's the SEC who is afraid of venturing to the great white north to play games in January and December. It would be fun to look at the head to head record if the Gator Bowl was replaced with the Buckeye bowl played in Cleveland and the Citrus Bowl became Tundra Bowl played in Chicago's Soldier Field. Of course, when it's SEC teams being judged on games hundreds of miles away in cities filled with mostly hostile fan bases, I am pretty sure the volume of complaints would double.
— Greg Bearringer is a graduate student in Medieval Studies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.