Prepare for plenty of Michigan references as part two of the FCS
semi-finals kicks off after the commercial break. Villanova plays Appalachian State.
Delaware in the finals. some other team pointed out by a commenter below.
Frankly, this game was borderline catastrophic, and we're damn lucky to come out of it with a win and no injuries. But enough about that, already. I'm genuinely puzzled as to why we continue to schedule these supposed 'cupcake' teams when we have almost NOTHING to gain and everything to lose by playing them:
1. Michigan has a long and troubling history of 'playing down' to teams that we are superior to on paper, and this tendency has been disastrous in the past. We always seem to let inferior teams hang around for far too long.
2. Our opponents, on the other hand, usually consider the game against us their figurative BCS Championship game, and they bring everything to the table.
3. We tend not to be very motivated for these games - the team doesn't have that 'fire', the fans aren't really into it, and a lot of people get lulled into a sense of complacency. The discrepancy in enthusiasm can make a big difference on the field.
4. The nature of the game forces us to play conservatively and use 'vanilla' schemes, lest our upcoming opponents glean information from our playcalling or the game film.
5. We don't derive much, if any, value from playing these games. A big win? Meh, we were supposed to win. A close win causes a great deal of concern. And a loss? Absolute (and well-deserved) pandemonium. And don't forget the possibility of potential season-ending injuries, as well.
These games are strategically unwise for the program. Win, and nobody blinks or really seems to care. But poor play leads to narratives like, "UMass put up 37 on Michigan?" If we really want to progress as a program and regain our status as an elite team, we need to start playing elite teams like Alabama rather than 'cupcakes' with nothing to lose.
We may lose. In fact, we may get our asses kicked - but who cares? It's better in the long run to know if we can hang with the best of the best or not, and we actually learn from the experience. What if we somehow managed to keep, say, a team like Alabama close? That's good for the program - it helps recruiting, it gives us a national stage, and we can learn a ton from the experience.
You may not agree with me - and that's fine. But you have to at least start to question the merit of scheduling these teams when it's unclear how we benefit from the experience.
I'm feeling a little shy about two wallpaper diary posts in one day, but got some encouragement from some experienced members so here goes.
Like many big-time college football programs, our beloved Wolverines have paid an FCS "cupcake" (UMass) lots of money ($550,000) to sacrifice themselves on the altar of massive gate receipts. The problem is that this season there have been more than a few upsets by FCS teams over their benevolent hosts and there was "the game which shall not be named" a few years ago at the Big House. I couldn't bring myself to make fun of UMass as directly as I have with previous opponents so this week's image can be interpreted as a good-natured dig at both teams.
The image below is a preview only. You can get this week's widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
There is also a Game 1 Wallpaper that I didn't have enough points to post. It's here for the downloading if you're already feeling nostalgic about the Connecticut game. The Husky puppy piddling in fear tested well with wives, girlfriends and small children. The Art. The Art. The Art!.
All of the 2010 Schedule Wallpapers
So, I was digging around in the Sagarin rankings because I was impressed with the UMASS win over William & Mary two weeks ago. According to Sagarin, the UMASS (69) game will be more difficult than the following:
- Bowling Green (108)
- Indiana (91)
- Purdue (89)
- Connecticut (80)
- and Minnesota (105) if they actually played
While I do think Michigan has a right to be confident in playing a FCS team, I do not think this team should be taken that lightly. The CAA tends to be successful against FBS teams, and I would be willing to put their teams up against MAC and Sun Belt teams any day of the week.
It's become clear in recent years that playing professional football is not good for you. In fact it pretty much kills you. The average NFL player will die before sixty and lose 2-3 years of life for every year in the NFL and has vastly multiplied chance at having dementia. Now we have the first evidence, albiet only anecdotal, that college football does esentially the same thing. A 21-year-old kid named Owen Thomas who played I-AA football at the University of Pennsylvania killed himself last year after what was described as a sudden change in mood and behavior. He had no prior history of depression. An autopsy now shows that he had the early stages of a type of dementia caused by trauma from playing football and which is associated with depression.
There's no way to say that "football killed him" or even contributed to his depression and suicide, but if a 21 year old kid playing second teir college football (who had never had a concussion, by the way) can have brain trauma from football (and as I understand it this is only diagnosed on autopsy, so there is no way to know whether this is the exception or the rule) it suggests to me that football is really not safe at any level past high-school. As fans who fund college football (and most of us pro football as well) what moral responsiblity do we bear in all of this?
System One: Win-Based
Bottom 5 of the FBS:Eastern Michigan (0-12)
Western Kentucky (0-12)
Miami (Not That Miami) (1-11)
Washington State (1-11)
New Mexico (1-11)
Top 5 (6) of the FCS:
Montana (14-0) - In Championship Game
Villanova (13-1) - In Championship Game
Richmond (11-2) - Lost to App State
Southern Illinois (11-2) - Lost to W&M
William&Mary (11-3) - Lost to Villanova
Appalachian State (11-3) Lost to Montana
Win by Montana would drop out S. Illinois, win by Villanova would drop out Richmond.
System Two: Sagarin Rankings-Based
Bottom 5 Sagarin FBS (it is unlikely these will change):
Western Kentucky: 192
Eastern Michigan: 182
North Texas: 162
New Mexico State: 152
Miami (Not That Miami): 150
Top 5 Sagarin FCS (these might change next weekend):
Appalachian State: 75
So let's say we combined these two lists and dropped the bottom four out of the FBS, just for the sake of making promotion simple. EMU, W. Kentucky, Miami (Not That Miami), and NM State all appear on both lists, and would get bumped down to FCS. Montana, Villanova, William & Mary, and Appalachian State, the top four teams in the FCS playoff, would be brought up to replace. The teams would take opened spots in the most local conferences, replacing the bumped teams on the conference schedules.
William & Mary and Villanova would trade conferences with EMU and Miami, because of location. W. Kentucky would switch with App. State, again due to location, and Montana would switch with NM State.
If the FCS teams managed to win the next year, they would make the cut and get to stay. If they didn't, they would just get bumped back down into their old conferences. The old FBS teams would be required to make the final four in the FCS in order to move up again.
I feel like this would liven up competition in the FCS as well as lighting a fire under the bottom-rung teams in the FBS. Probably will never happen, but wouldn't it be an amazing change?