the just released schedules were a flat-out statement that the B10 doesn't believe SOS will matter in playoff selection
"The Game" Fiasco: How the B10 Office can save face.
It appears that the thinking of the B10 Office regarding The Game goes something like this:
"It would be a shame to have a setup where Michigan and Ohio State could not play each other for the Big 10 title. Besides, a potential Michigan-Ohio State Big 10 title game would have tremendous appeal to the networks when we're trying to sell the broadcast rights (not that we would ever let a thing like that drive our decision making . . . wink, wink).
So to make this a possibility, we'll put Michigan and Ohio State into separate divisions.
But this creates a new problem. It would be a bad thing if they played each other the last game of the season and then played immediately again in the Big 10 championship game. This could dilute the interest of the networks to whom we are trying to sell the broadcast rights (not that we would ever let a thing like that drive our decision making . . . wink, wink).
So we'll move The Game to earlier in the season so that there will be time for the networks to "cleanse their palettes" between the two games. Problem solved. We'll slip this past everybody by announcing it in drips and drabs in late August, and no one will be the wiser. Martini Time."
While it may seem like a tidy little solution to the Big 10 Office, many Michigan fans and college football fans in general are outraged. We believe The Game should be played the last game of the season, one shot. You have to go through the other team to advance. Win or lose, it's final. It's the cumulative end-point of the season, the crown jewel of "rivalry weekend".
We now have to hope against hope that the Big 10 Office will come to its senses and not let what happened to the epic Oklahoma-Nebraska and Miami-Florida State rivalries happen to the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry.
But if the Big 10 still insists on putting Michigan and Ohio State in separate divisions and not allowing them to play each other back-to-back in the regular season and the Big 10 championship game, there may be a way to do that that still preserves the essence and tradition of The Game:
- Play all of the traditional Big 10 rivalry games, including The Game, at the end of the Big 10 season the Saturday before Thanksgiving, just like they are played now.
- Schedule a non-conference game the Saturday after Thanksgiving, between the last Big 10 season game and the Big 10 championship game.
The non-conference game would be like that end of season Hawaii game that many of the Big 10 teams have played over the years, except now it would be for everybody.
There would be plenty of tomato cans available to schedule for the end of season non-conference slot, most of whom would have finished their own regular seasons and would welcome the extra paycheck. The two Big 10 championship game opponents can rest their first string and use this game to give their second/third string some reps. The non-Big 10 championship game teams can use the non-conference game to keep their team sharp for the bowls, avoiding a long layoff.
The significance and tradition of the Big 10 rivalry games would be preserved. They would still be played at the end of the Big 10 season on "rivalry weekend" the way they are now, and would still be the final word on the Big 10 standings. The non-conference games would have no bearing on the Big 10 standings or a slot in the Big 10 championship game.
This solution is not perfect of course. Many fans will not relish the idea of sitting in a cold stadium in late November to watch their team take on the seventh place MAC team. The networks would not exactly be scrambling to show these games either. Luckily for the Big 10, we have our own network to save the day. It can be an all-BTN overflow channel extravaganza day. The Big 10 would even get to keep all the TV money.
This is by no means preferable to the sensible solution of keeping Michigan and Ohio State in the same division and letting them brawl it out in The Game at the end of the season for the division crown and the right to go to the Big 10 championship.
If the Big 10 is adamant on putting Michigan and Ohio State in seperate divisions, then The Game should still be played as the last game of the season. There is no good reason to move it every year because of the possibility the teams might play each other consecutively a couple times a decade.
But if the Big 10 is hung up on Michigan and Ohio State never playing each other back to back and won't budge from this position, then a non-conference buffer game would be much more preferrable to moving The Game to the middle of the season. As a last ditch effort to keep The Game from becoming just “a game” it may be the best hope we’ve got.