I did not make this headline up
During the most recent stretch of football at the University of Michigan, I am constantly reminded by opposing fan bases that we have won 1/2 a NC since 1948. The majority of these fans are MSU fans OSU fans, but the rest of the Big 10 is picking it up.
I don't know how many more times I can take hearing from Sparty that they have won 6 in 51, 52, 55, 57, 65 and 66 in that same time frame that we have 1/2.
Of course because of all this I had to check out the "claimed national championships", and realized there are an additional 11 NC for Michigan, most notablly in 85, 73, 64.
Why are we not more apt to include these additional NC's when defending ourseleves to the drones of Sparties and other fan bases.
What exactly is the difference between our 11 claimed yet not claimed NC, and the othres that clearly "claim" their "claimed NC's".
Maybe I am just letting them get to me after all this time, being that I have to work with a boatload of Spartans and Buckeyes, but next time Sparty boasts their 6 claimed titles, be sure to remind them that if we count that way, we have 22.
One of responses in a forum post got me to thinking about whether a Big Ten Championship game would be helpful in propelling a team to the MNC game.
The short answer is no. Analysis follows: let's see what couldhave happened the past 3 years.
- 2008 Last year Ohio State and Penn State shared the Big Ten Championship. They probably would have played in a hypothetical B10 championship... but PSU had already beaten OSU earlier in the year. Even had they played a championship game, PSU would not have gone to the MNC game had they won, and OSU (and the B10 in general) probably would have lost out on the 2nd BCS bid. Reverse the situation and OSU doesn't get to the MNC with a win, and PSU may lose a BCS bid if they lose. The net result is negative: one BCS game, a bunch of teams bumped down a peg, and a random mediocre Big Ten team may get shut out of a bowl.
- 2007, The Michigan-Ohio State game has a slightly different meaning. If Michigan wins, The B10 championship is suddenly Michigan-Illinois. If Ohio State wins, the B10 championship is Michigan-OSU. Playing the hypothetical game here can take you to all sorts of different places. Anyways, tOSU won, and In the 1-2 week after rematch, Henne and Hart are still banged up meaning we probably lose again. If OSU wins they still go to the MNC, while Michigan still goes to the Citrus Bowl. If OSU loses, they probably don't go to the MNC game, Michigan goes to the Rose Bowl, OSU probably gets an at large BCS bid, and Illinois is shut out of the BCS. There is no possible gain here in Big Ten terms, they have 2 BCS teams regardless, but they could potentially lose a MNC contender.
- 2006, UM and OSU have a titanic showdown in The Game. This is where it gets interesting. If UM loses, it would prompt a rematch in the B10 championship, as they had beaten 1 loss Wisconsin early in the year. If Ohio State loses, then what? Michigan would have beaten both teams, both with 1 loss. Who plays in the B10 game? Assuming OSU wins the regular game again, the Big Ten Championship is still fraught with peril. If OSU wins again they still get to go to the NC, and Michigan is eliminated from any talk about going to the National Title game. If Michigan wins, there's a 4 team logjam at the top, with UM, UF, USC, and OSU, as well as a 1 loss UW team that would probably be out of the running. The MNC has the potential to shut out both Big Ten teams, and let UF and USC play. The Big Ten had a legitimate shot at putting 2 teams in the national title game, and in this scenario, could end up with 0.
There are plenty of other messy scenarios out there. What happens in the case of a 3 way tie (ala the B12 last year). Hell, the Big Ten has even had a 4 way conference championship tie, what then? Sure the Big Ten could split into divisions, but who's the 12th school? Bringing back U-Chicago's athletics? Will we change our name (Because you have to admit 11 schools in the Big Ten is pushing it, 12 would just make it too confusing) to the Big Lake Conference? Do we go to 10 schools? Are we kicking Northwestern out?
Oh, and if you were wondering, there's no way a B10 championship would have helped in: 2005 (12-0 Texas/USC), 2004 (12-0 USC/Oklahoma), 2002 (12-0 OSU/Miami), 2001 (Undefeated Nebraska/Miami), 2000 (Oklahoma, 1 loss FSU. Big Ten Champ was 4 loss Purdue), 1999 (Undefeated VTech/FSU), or 1998 (Undefeated Tennessee/FSU)
The only time a championship game could have hepled was in 2003, when 1 loss Michigan wins the Big Ten. That year, 1 loss Michigan and USC were on the outside looking in while 11-1 LSU and Oklahoma were playing for the NT. We were a distant 4th to the 3 other teams, but a Big Ten championship game MAY (may!) have pushed us over the edge.
1 opportunity to improve the Big Ten's situation out of 11 isn't really great. You have to trade that off with 3 potential opportunities that a Big Ten team can stumble and not go to the NT game. And yes, a conference championship would most likely bring in lots of revenue and exposue. However, without a championship game, the Big Ten has one of the easier routes to the National Title game, and it looks like a championship game would be an obstacle for a perfect team more often than it would be to boost a 1 or 2 loss Big Ten team in.
So ESPN's prestige rankings came out and Michigan barely cracks the top 10. They use a bunch of different numbers and criteria. To determine prestige, a seemingly intangible concept, on hard numbers seems unreliable to begin with BUT any method which reduces Michigan's national title count from 11 to 2(?!) seems flawed.
This question was addressed in a chat wrap with one of the researchers:
Bill (Detroit, Mi): Ummmm you say U of M has 2 national championships. Can you count to 11??? 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1918, 1923, 1932, 1933, 1947, 1948, 1997
SportsNation Harold Shelton : You are a funny guy Bill. We can play this game too. Can you read where the study says "SINCE 1936?" Or how about the fact that we only used the AP or the UPI/Coaches/BCS Poll. Michigan didn't win a title under those polls in 1947.
I'm not sure if their national title counting system hurt any other program as much as it did Michigan but it would seem that any system which reduces your titles from 11 to 2 is a flawed system. Of course this assumes the other nine titles weren't based on votes by The National Association of Waffle Makers or Bob's Pelt and Hide, but I assume Michigan claims 11 National Titles b/c they all were given by some nationally recognizable organizations.