This has been on my mind ever since I walked out of Michigan Stadium on Saturday afternoon, with the biggest smile I've had in a while. I think it is worthwhile to discuss, and even though many of you will disagree with me and my own opinion, i can easily see how that would be possible, and wont act all butt-hurt about it.
I have spent alot of time lately wondering about the polls and the various weekly rankings that come out, that we wait for, every sunday afternoon. I know that the rankings and win/loss results account for half of the fun we have with this great sport when our teams aren't on the field, but I definitely think that one thing thats lost within a BCS "rankings" system that would not be in a standings format: Logic.
I would like to give you three examples as to why I feel this way:
1. THE NFL. I know they get to fit a whole 12 teams into their post season quest for a Championship, whilst the NCAA has to pick just 2. I understand this makes for an easier method of explaining to fans why their team is out of the running. But at the same time, not once do you hear ESPN announcers sitting around arguing that a 7-9 Steelers team should get in over a 9-7 Bengals team because of bullshit intangibles such as strength of schedule, who has the harder conference/division/etc. Nope. It's cut and dry. Wins and losses. You know what you have to do, and you have to do it.
2. NCAA CONFERENCE STANDINGS. For those of you who say "That Win-Loss stuff just can't work in college football" :::::: All of the conferences base who wins their divisions off of Win/Loss Records and then pre-determined tie breakers. At no point have we heard any news coming down from the Big Ten Atheletic Offices that One team with a worse win loss record should get a berth to the B1G Championship because their schedule was harder. Lord knows. In a perfect world, we would have beaten Iowa, and if we were tied 7-1 and 7-1 with Sparty at the end of the season, they wouldn't have permitted who went to Indy by a poll of sports writers who only watch 3 games a weekend. They'd go with head to head, then mutual opponentsm, or division record.
3. IRRATIONALITY: I am not saying that I think Michigan should be ranked above Oklahoma state, but does no one else realize what happened this weekend? Michigan routed a nationally tradional power, who was not only ranked, but concerning the BCS, was ranked higher than them. Michigan rolled Nebraska. How far do we advance? Three spots. We barely crack the top 15. However, Oklahoma State lost to AN UN RANKED TEAM in Iowa State. Somehow, after they were given the charge to simply prove their worthiness by going into Iowa, beating a team that's not even currently recognized by the BCS pundits, and they flat out failed. Apparently, they are still the #4th ranked team in the country.
And why does the BCS computer-run poll seem to resemble national media opinion/hype in the most uncanny of ways? When LSU strokes a conference opponent, LSU uber alles. When Michigan rolls a team that was picked to beat them, apparently Nebraska had a bad day, or they were over rated. Do you not see that these are opinions? Just like the one I'm giving you! My problem is that a purely mathematical ranking system shouldn't reflect exactly what these ESPN dicks are saying, at least as accurately as it is.
I'm not going to open the can of worms that is BCS v PLAYOFF/ and i'm not going to touch the whole top 3 teams are SEC teams thing with a 20 foot pole. But until this rankings thing is figured out, or at least kept honest, college football can not be considered a real, tangible and competitive sport. In many cases, it doesn't matter how hard these kids play, or how many losses they do or don't have, but which talking head with the most clout seems to be giving them the biggest endorsement.
Imagine if the Red Wings had to depend on Rosenberg to decide if he was going to get hard for them or not, in order to make the playoffs.
That's some pretty frustrating shit...
I started working on this season's Ohio State wallpaper several months ago. The concept was more fun than anything I've worked on (other than the Denard Robinson Action Figures) and soon it grew into my most ambitious project to-date. Nothing even comes close with regard to the skills required to pull it off and the number of hours I'd require to finish it.
In case it's not obvious to you already, this is not that wallpaper. Two things changed my mind about releasing it now: first, I realized that my concept had nothing to do with Ohio State and would work better as a pro-Michigan season theme; second, the memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal provided the first true opportunity to poke fun at Ohio State in nearly a decade.
As I write this explanation I'm reminded of the classic line by rock greats Tenacious D: "This is not The Greatest Song in the World, no. This is just a tribute." Next August I'll publish "The Greatest Wallpaper in the World" for the 2012 season to massive disappointment now that I've stupidly overhyped the thing to the five people who actually read these explanations. For now, I hope you'll enjoy this artwork inspired by Ohio State's fall (and Fall).
The images below are a previews only. You can get the widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
How it was made
The Riddell Revo Speed helmets were illustrated in Illustrator (they really nailed the naming of that product) and then superimposed on the forearm photograph in Photoshop. I used a dash of Gaussian blur, a mix of blending modes and a smidge of smudge tool action to make the color boundaries look more tattoo-ish. If you look closely you can see a little red around the edges of the tattoo that gives the skin the "I was at one time in the past punctured over and over by needles" look. I toyed with a much more elaborate tattoo that used a blackletter font (and went so far as to design an ambigram for the word "game") but in the end I decided on simplicity; I used a type treatment consistent with this season's Notre Dame and Michigan State wallpapers.
Michigan and Ohio share four mutual opponents. The goal of this diary is to examine our respective performances against these opponents, and in doing so attempt to predict the winner of next Saturday's game.
When we played them:
At MSU. Michigan started with an 80-yard, 10-play touchdown drive and then proceeded to punt on 8 consecutive drives before a second too-little-too-late score. Michigan State's offense wasn't a juggernaut but it was good enough for three scores, and Denard's pick-six sealed the game. MSU 28-14.
When they played them:
At Ohio. By the fourth quarter, the play-by-play announcers were considering ritual suicide in the press box in this abomination of a football game. Ohio managed 178 net yards, 62 of which was on the final drive. While MSU's defense looked dominant, their offense seemed determined to keep Ohio in the game, offering up two interceptions, two turnover-on-downs, and a missed field goal. The 10 points they did manage seemed like an insurmountable lead, even after Ohio managed a desperation touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. MSU 10-7.
Our game was played in a trash tornado. Ohio let Joe Bauserman, the human trash tornado, attempt 14 passes (although he did complete half of them and led their one touchdown drive). Ohio still had all the Tatgate and Related Naughtiness players suspended.
Michigan State made both us and Ohio look bad. Ohio came closer by final outcome but both games were ugly. In Michigan's favor, we had to play on the road. In Ohio's favor, they had to play without players that have since returned. I'm calling this a PUSH.
When we played them:
At Michigan: Ill-advised interceptions were the only thing stopping Michigan's offense as we racked up 535 yards and 34 points (plus a safety for 2 more). Purdue scored on their first drive and then spent a lot of time punting until some 4th quarter drives against Michigan's prevent defense made the score look a bit closer than it actually was. Michigan 36-14.
When they played them:
At Purdue: Purdue had 10 points before Ohio had 10 yards, and then hung on for dear life as Ohio clawed its way back. Ohio was poised to complete the rally and take the lead for the first time when it scored a touchdown with 1:22 remaining, only to see the extra point blocked. In OT, Purdue's touchdown trumped Ohio's field goal. Purdue 26-23.
Ohio had all of their players except for WR DeVier Posey back, and QB Braxton Miller by this time had several games of experience under his belt. Ohio played Purdue on the road while we got them at home.
Home field advantage is not nearly significant enough to detract from the fact that Michigan beat Purdue handily while Ohio seemed evenly matched against the Boilermakers. Advantage, MICHIGAN.
When we played them:
At Illinois. Michigan got about 17 different monkeys off of our collective backs with this convincing win on the road. A bevy of first-half miscues were the only thing that prevented this game from being over by halftime, because Illinois failed to mount a drive of more than 5 plays or 28 yards until late in the third quarter. By the time Illinois found its offense Michigan had found ours as well... and ours was better. Michigan 31-14.
When they played them:
At Illinois. Illinois out-gained Ohio 285 to 228 as Ohio went 1 for 4 passing for the entire game, but Ohio got touchdown drives of 12 and 22 yards thanks to Illinois turnovers. Those scores plus an opening field goal was enough for a victory. Ohio 17-7.
Ohio still had two players suspended, I believe (honestly for Ohio games "suspended players" should be its own category in the box score). If you are the kind of person that believes that Momentum is a mystical force that acts on sporting events rather than the product of mass and velocity, you will put emphasis on the fact that Illinois was on a six-game winning streak when they played Ohio, but a 3-game losing streak when they played us.
Ohio needed a heavy dose of Illinois mistakes to earn a 10-point victory. Illinois needed a heavy dose of Michigan mistakes to stop us from going up by five scores. Advantage, MICHIGAN.
When we played them:
At Michigan. Do I really need to write this paragraph? MURDERED HUSKERS FROM HELL TO BREAKFAST. IF ANYONE FINDS TAYLOR MARTINEZ'S TEETH PLEASE RETURN THEM. I think that about covers it. Michigan 45-17.
When they played them:
At Nebraska. Ohio had a 27-6 lead until Braxton Miller was injured and Joe Bauserman was forced back into action. His 1-for-10 passing explains why Ohio didn't score any more points, but not why Ohio's defense gave up 4 touchdowns and 289 yards in the last quarter and a half. Nebraska 34-27.
Ohio had to deal with home field advantage. They had the Tatgate crew back but were still without the Related Naughtiness guys. Michigan didn't get to play the Michigan Fergodsakes video on the scoreboards until halftime, after which it went from a one score game to a blowout. I think that's Very Telling (TM).
The caveats are legitimate but Ohio's defensive collapse cannot be ignored. I don't think this is as significant of a win for Michigan as it at seems at first, but never the less it's advantage, MICHIGAN.
Three of the four mutual opponent comparisons favor Michigan, and the other is a push. Ohio has been growing stronger as the season goes on and their players have returned from suspension, although this has not translated to better results. Michigan has been growing stronger as well as the coaches learn what the players can and cannot do and the players benefit from the instruction of competent staff, and we have blowout victories in three of our last four games to show for it. I can't promise a victory on Saturday, but if performance against mutual opponents means anything at all, we should be able to win the day.
3&O has left me outraged at the pathetic levels to which some at Michigan stooped to scuttle RichRod's program ( and didn't care that that meant scuttling the program as well). But here are some counter points:
1. Three separate universities have somehow screwed over Rich Rod and none of it was his fault ( Clemson not giving him the HC job, WVU and UM). I am a 2 sides to a coin guy and find this hard to believe.He does not seem like the kind of guy that can look inwards and learn from his mistakes. I think the bunch of folks he hangs out with re-inforce the "everybody is out to get us" mentality.
2. Loyalty to Tony effing Gibson (JT Floyd and D.Warren ought to send him a giant finger for christmas every year)
3. GERG (aargh I cannot believe this clown has Michigan on his resume now)
and finally the point of this post...that quote Rod gave about Vince Lombardi...how does that sound now? I guess it only took Greg Mattison to coach these guys up to be a top ten defense! And he had only one spring and fall practice to do it with. Imagine if we had Vince Lombardi!
Hoke Uber Alles
I don't see how a matchup between LSU and Alabama represents a national title when there are at least 3 other worthwhile conferences that don't have a legitimate shot at saying who is the 'best in the nation'. The SEC is not a deep conference and consists of total bottomfeeders after the top 5. Most of their top 5 do not play each other - the two top SEC east teams have a combined 1 game against an SEC west contender (Arkansas). LSU and Alabama each do have one out of conference win with mention.
But let's be honest - you don't deserve a rematch to decide the entire nation when your game /at home/ was a loss.
If the SEC is so good, let them prove it by playing other conferences. Matchups I'd rather see for the national title game more than LSU-Alabama:
1. LSU vs 1-loss Stanford. Yes, Stanford will not play in its title game. However, you have a three-way dynamic between them, Oregon, and USC where they all beat each other. One loss in Autzen (any loss in Autzen looks ugly) is a lot more understandable than a home loss, even in overtime. They also haven't played LSU yet, and Alabama won't play in its title game either.
2. LSU vs 1-loss Oklahoma State. 1-loss AQ conference victor should always have a more legit shot than a team not playing for a conference title with 1 loss already at home seeking a rematch. Big 12 has more parity than SEC by far - Iowa State could have a shot at being an 8 win team right now if it had some of the schedules the SEC east teams have.
3. LSU vs 1-loss Va Tech (revenge win over clemson in ACC title game) - 1-loss AQ conference victor should always have a more legit shot than a team not playing for a conference title with 1 loss already at home seeking a rematch.
4. LSU vs Undefeated Houston - would shut everyone up about Non-AQ teams deserving a shot at the NC for the next 10 years, and would give us a crack at playing Nick Saban in the sugar bowl. This is the way for us to get the most challenging matchup possible.
5. LSU vs 1-loss Boise St - - would shut everyone up about Non-AQ teams deserving a shot at the NC for the next 10 years. Or, will make everyone shut up about the SEC being so good. This won't happen, but I'd rather see it than an Alabama rematch.
See: 2006 for reference as to why 1 vs 2 rematch is never a good idea. If you remember, a certain florida team had a garbage loss to an unranked auburn team...
(CFB needs a playoff etc)