Though I was disappointed with the decision to move Thanksgiving to the Thursday BEFORE the Michigan-Ohio game, it is now the way things are and I have made peace with the new normal. That being said, I wanted to bring up the three scenarios under which The Game could be played now that there is an actual B1G championship game, instead of The Game acting as proxy.
Dave Brandon had said, when it was announced that Michigan and Ohio would be in separate B1G divisions, something to the effect of “The only thing better than playing the Ohio game would be playing it twice.” For Brandon, this stems from the idea of increased brand proliferation. Though for fans this is supposed to stem from the idea of being able to beat Ohio twice in the same season. While this would seem to be incredibly gratifying, it ultimately breaks down functionally. If the same team wins both games then what was the point of the rematch? If the series is split, then what was proven on the field? See 2011-2012 Alabama/LSU and SEC ad absurdum.
Let us take a step back however and examine the three scenarios. They are:
Michigan and Ohio enter The Game with each team having no chance of reaching the B1GCG. While this likely means more joy in Madison, Lincoln, or East Lansing than Ann Arbor, the effect on The Game is minimal. Though neither team controls its own destiny, the usual grudge match applies and the victor will revel in adulation while the loser suffers the humiliations of another year of failure. This is the scenario of the 2011 Game.
Michigan and Ohio enter The Game with at least one team having a chance to secure a spot in the B1GCG. This scenario sees the grudge match in its more traditional role of having a great impact on trips to Pasadena and B1G championships. Again, the victor will enjoy spoils and the loser sees another season spoiled. If both teams need the win to secure a spot in the B1GCG, the intensity could be even more pronounced than usual. This is a scenario similar to the 2006 Game but with the immediate implications regarding the B1GCG rather than the BCSMNCG.
Both Michigan and Ohio are already guaranteed their spot in the B1GCG. This is the scenario that Brandon supposedly thinks would be so great though I suggest it is sad and superfluous. The Game would not be The Game, next week's Game is the real Game. The rematch will determine the B1G champion while the first version will determine nothing. It is simply a qualifying heat and it isn’t even that since the qualifying has already been accomplished. Is there truly value in beating Ohio twice when once is all that would be needed? Why risk injury? Why risk spoiling a perhaps undefeated season for a game that is functionally meaningless? Think about that - The Game being functionally meaningless. Now perish the thought.
Ways around this sad situation include moving The Game to earlier in the season, and changing the conference alignment. In my next entry I will propose a new conference alignment. Thanks for reading.