Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Monday, December 04, 2006

Take out the "C," and what do you get?

I try to pride myself on being a rational Michigan fan.

My buddy Rob has made fun of me in the past for attempting to distance myself from those Wolverines fans who seem to think that Michigan is entitled to win every single game, who believed that Lloyd Carr should've been fired after last season's 7-5 record, who call in to local sports talk radio after a 31-point victory and complain that 1) Michigan didn't win by enough, 2) Boy, they should've thrown the ball more, and 3) Why didn't the coaches give the back-ups some playing time with 42 seconds left in the game?! That's gonna haunt them later in the season - you watch!

So I maintained a calm demeanor when USC leapfrogged Michigan in the BCS standings for the #2 spot. No, I didn't believe the Trojans were a better team, but I thought they played a tougher non-conference schedule with games against Alabama and Arkansas. Plus, USC would win its conference, something the Wolverines had no claim upon once they lost to Ohio State.

As flawed as it is, this is the system that Division I college football has insisted on following - punishing teams for losing late in the season and indulging voters who factor such arbitrary standards as "Aw, I don't want to see two teams play each other again" into their decision-making. Ultimately, though I think it stinks, that's what we're stuck with. And I was going to live with that.

But then UCLA inexplicably beat USC, 13-9, Saturday evening. I figured a Trojans victory was so assured that I didn't plan on watching the game. I went to the movies. (Stranger Than Fiction, by the way, was very good. But I'll save that for the other blog.) After turning my cell phone back on in the lobby, however, I had two messages that made me rush home to catch the fourth quarter. And I got home just in time to watch Eric McNeal's game-clinching interception - after which I declared that I wanted to have that man's baby.

Was this really going to happen? Would the dominoes fall exactly as Michigan needed? Would they get another crack at Ohio State? It wouldn't be assured, however, unless Arkansas beat Florida in the SEC title game. And if Houston Nutt hadn't insisted on making his running back throw the ball so many damn times (how often did he think that trick was going to work?), maybe the Razorbacks could've pulled it off.

Once Florida won, however, I tried to tell myself that the Gators might be too far behind Michigan in percentage points to overtake them in the BCS standings. But deep down, I knew what was going to happen. The voters didn't want a rematch. And they hadn't watched Michigan play in two weeks. Despite such nonsense, I tried to apply the same rationale as I did with USC, and told myself I was fine with Florida playing for the national championship instead of Michigan.

So for most of yesterday, in the hours leading up to the announcement of the Bowl Championship Series match-ups - and most importantly, who would be playing Ohio State for the national championship - I had my Spock ears on and tried to look at this as logically as possible.

Florida won its conference - and the SEC was quite possibly the strongest conference in college football this season. According to whatever criteria ranks such things, the Gators played the toughest schedule in the country. And soon after Michigan lost to Ohio State, I was one of those people who felt like Michigan dropped its claim on the national title. After all, if those were the two best teams in the country, then that game was essentially for the championship. Fault that reasoning, if you will, but that's what I told myself as I fell asleep last night.

So why did I wake up this morning feeling like Michigan's been screwed here?

Okay, Florida won its conference, but let's be honest here: If the SEC didn't have a championship game, and Florida had beaten Arkansas, let's say, back in October, would the Gators' proponents be using that as Exhibit A in their case?

Besides, was the SEC really better this year? Really? I was ready to say yes. LSU! Arkansas! Auburn! Tennessee! Georgia! South Carolina! But after looking at the standings from the two conferences, I'm hardly certain about that. Ohio State! Wisconsin! Penn State! Purdue! Minnesota! Iowa!

You tell me Northwestern and Michigan State were bad teams, and I'll say that Alabama and Ole Miss stunk it up, too. How about Illinois? Well, how about Vanderbilt? And Mississippi State?

Three SEC teams in the BCS top ten! Hey, man - look at those standings again and count off the Big Ten teams for me. And while you're at it, note where those Big Ten teams are ranked in relation to their SEC counterparts.

And did some analysts really cite the utterly ludicrous argument that Michigan hadn't played in two weeks as some kind of legitimate reasoning to tout Florida as a more worthy championship opponent? As if Michigan's lack of bye weeks to stretch out its schedule and the Big Ten's lack of a conference championship game should hold any kind of merit in this equation? You'd have to be hiding behind Lou Holtz's coke bottles to say that with a straight (or Holtz-ian) face.

Sour grapes? Oh, you bet your sweet ass. Because no one seems to be making an argument for Florida based strictly on merit. And that's a case I'm willing to listen to. I might even agree with it. But when junk like "I don't want a rematch," "Ohio State shouldn't have to play Michigan again," and the above mentioned "haven't played in two weeks" bull$#!+ is factored in, the argument looks like a wet piece of tissue paper.

I've heard some look on with satisfaction and say "the human element" won out over the computers in reaching this decision. But after looking at how some of the Harris Poll voters ranked certain teams, I'm beginning to wonder if we should just leave it all up to the BCS-matic 3000 again. (Hat tip: Michigan Sports Center) It's enough to make a forehead implode. Or compel me to go outside, find a small animal - preferably a little girl's pet - and kick it across the street. We're going to leave this in the hands of people willing to rank Boise State #2? Louisville #2? Florida #5?

Sweet Jesus, bloggers have never looked more competent compared to the mainstream media in all my life.

Of course I'm biased, but this system absolutely reeks. Whoever would've predicted that a Rose Bowl match-up with USC would be seen as a terrible letdown? And I'm sitting here in Ann Arbor, Michigan ready to root for Ohio State - hoping Jim Tressel and the Buckeyes punch Urban Meyer right in his smug face. I'm not sure that's a college football world I want to live in, man.

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  • At December 04, 2006 1:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Although Michigan has only themselves to blaim by losing to OSU, I totally agree with you. OSU picked up one fan...for a night anyways.

    This couldn't have worked out worse for Michigan. Not only do they not want to be there and will probably lay an egg from the letdown, but they also have to play an angry/good Trojan team on their own field, where they haven't lost in like...forever.


  • At December 04, 2006 7:29 PM, Blogger Wabi-Sabi said…

    I agree. Although the only thing worse than the BCS system was that announcement show. Goodness gracious that was bad TV.

    I like Barry Alvarez, but that suit needed some help, and who was the other guy who has laryngitis (sp?) on his big national TV debut? Not to mention their meaningless insights. They should be broadcasting local talk radio, not a national broadcast.

    As for Florida, it's interesting that they cite winning the conference title as a prerequisite for winning the National Title. I seem to recall that they didn't win the SEC basketball season last year and were seeded as the 3rd best team in their Region (9th - 12th overall) before winning the NCAA Basketball Championship.

    Meanwhile, we were one field goal away from Rutgers, Wake Forest and Boise St. all making the BCS. I'm sure that's just what the BCS founders (and TV sponsors)wanted when they created the BCS.

  • At December 05, 2006 8:00 AM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    Jim, I agree - the FOX BCS show was terrible. If you had any doubts as to whether FOX would do college football well, they were surely confirmed. Thom Brennaman calling the national championship game?

    They also essentially gave away the national title match-up with having cameras on the Florida football team while Michigan was absolutely nowhere to be seen. (Maybe because the Rose Bowl is on ABC?)

    As far as winning a conference title being a prerequisite for playing in the national championship game, I would then ask this: Why invite at-large teams to the BCS? Is it to invite an even eight teams? Or is it so Notre Dame can be included?


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