The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
Chaos in the old barn. Minnesota beat Indiana last night, turning the Big Ten title race from Definitely Indiana into a free-for-all between IU, MSU, Michigan, and—ugh—Wisconsin*. If you're betting that Trevor Mbakwe beasting on Cody Zeller was the key, yup: Krang had 12 rebounds, 6 offensive, and went 8/10 from the floor en route to 21 points. Zeller was 2/9.
As for that suddenly open Big Ten race, here are the contenders' closing stretches:
- INDIANA: Iowa, OSU, @ Michigan
- MICHIGAN STATE: @ Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern
- MICHIGAN: @ Penn State, MSU, @ Purdue, Indiana
- WISCONSIN: Purdue, @ Michigan State, @ Penn State
Michigan controls their own fate for a share; Indiana has the toughest schedule but also a one-game lead. The MSU game this weekend is probably an eliminator. Go Iowa Awesome.
Meanwhile, the Gophers also secured their place in the tournament with that win, not that many people had them anywhere near the bubble. With a closing stretch of Penn State, @ Nebraska, @ Purdue they should reach 9-9 easily, and with wins over Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan State they'll probably be in that 6-7 range.
*[Ryan Evans is now shooting jump shots from the line:
This is why the Big Ten sucks at football?]
Turns out they SEC, too. Elsewhere in good news that went down last night, Florida got beat by Tennessee and will be off the one line everywhere once people get around to updating their brackets. Michigan will move back up to a #1 at Lunardi's bracket the next time he updates it, and the Gators are only a hair in front of Indiana on Kenpom now. This would be very good if Michigan could keep that spot.
Not that I put much credence in Lunardi's brackets. He's finally managed to keep Michigan away from teams they've already played in the first two rounds, but right now Michigan is slotted with Duke and #3 Louisville. Since Michigan is presumably #5, that's only S-curve order in his deranged brain. He's got Gonzaga with one of the top two seeds, which… I mean. Come on. Gonzaga does not have the schedule strength to be a one seed. They're 10th in RPI despite their record because their SOS is 66th—84th on Kenpom, but that's not what the committee will look at—and some school in a major conference is going to get hot and swoop past them.
LOLRUS. Michigan State went the somewhat shady route with their disposal of Dan Roushar, waiting until after Signing Day to deport the guy to the NFL position job that is apparently the birthright of any crappy college-level coordinator. (At least he's not assistant to the offensive line coach.) They are about to reap a whirlwind of karma, though:
Former Ohio State offensive coordinator Jim Bollman will be taking the same position with Michigan State, according to Football Scoop. Bollman worked as offensive line coach and run game coordinator at Boston College in 2012 after spending 11 seasons with the Buckeyes and was hired by Purdue as O-line coach for 2013.
And everyone who ever heard of Ramzy Nasrallah thought "I wonder what his twitter feed looked like in the immediate aftermath of this?"
Jfiekslemddkskwmemmfrmdkkwkdkdmdmdkoeoedmdmle RT @footballscoop: Sources tell us Jim Bollman is expected to accept the Michigan State OC job
— Ramzy Nasrallah (@ramzy) February 27, 2013
Bollman's not even a retread—he was OSU's OL coach until Tressel got canned and had one year as the head guy. He thought Joe Bauserman was basically on the same level as Braxton Miller. And OSU fans had been bitching about him for years for various OL issues from recruiting to performance. The only way in which this makes sense is if this was designed as a social media stunt.
If it's that, great job Mark Hollis. If it is Mark Dantonio's inner Oscar the Grouch overwhelming all reason, great job Mark Dantonio. Either way the forecast for Michigan State football in the near future is lots more years like this one, except with more mustache.
BONUS: Ohio State bros yukking it up about the Borges/Bollman matchup betray their Michigan obsession by not immediately going to Bollman/Greg Davis. Borges may have tried to use Denard Robinson as a dump truck, but one of the main complaints so far in his tenure is that everything is a deep ball. These guys aren't on the same plane.
BONUS II: Big Ten football programs have hired John Shoop, Jim Bollman, and Greg Davis over the last two years. To coordinate offenses, not pick out bagel toppings. I will not be breaking new rhetorical ground here by asserting this is why the Big Ten sucks. Northwestern is good at offense every year despite having no recruiting base. Take that, add draftable athletes on defense, and then find out what happens. In the worst case it looks like your offense is coordinated by… Greg Davis.
BONUS III: from an Eleven Warriors reader:
Very Big Ten move. I mean seriously SI, what?
Spring football '13 is the Jim Bollman OC of SI covers.
Etc.: Columbus wins "team I'd least like to go to" and "worst road trip" in Grant Wahl's survey of MLS players. Michigan won't wear the short-sleeved basketball jerseys the only incompetent Germans dreamed up. I've heard they will be wearing something. Here's this guy. Bacon on hockey's history. You like basketball graphs, right? Michigan has an abnormally low transition rate off of makes for how frequently they go on rebounds.
In a stunning coup, Arkansas will hire Wisconsin's Bret Bielema as its next football coach, Yahoo! Sports has learned.
Bielema, who has taken the Badgers to three straight Rose Bowls, was nowhere on the radar amid months of speculation over who Arkansas would hire.
An announcement will come Tuesday, sources told Y! Sports, but Bielema is not expected to be introduced until Wednesday.
But like adding Rutgers and Maryland will prevent this sort of thing from happening. People in charge of things are just in charge of them, for no reason.
Your bounty. The Shutdown Fullback has been created. Don't click it if you can't take jokes about Lloyd Carr's inability to gameplan from a Florida fan who clearly filed the most recent matchup of the two teams under "LSD-induced hallucination."
My name is Orson Swindle
I have taken LSD
Lloyd Carr is beating Tim Tebow by running a wide-open spread offense
PLEASE HELP ME
I mean… yeah. I get it.
Jason Kirk has started making meth with a former student of his. That is all.
That's not all. Final total for M: $6,316. Second place: Georgia with $1,318. OSU: $250. Rest of Big Ten combined: $600.
YES THAT IS WHAT YOU SHOULD LOOK LIKE
Everyone hates it. Literally the only positive response to the Big Ten's recent smoochy session with the Rose Bowl I can find: Drew Sharp [for the love of God, don't click that]. That's when you know you've made a bad life decision. Drumroll…
Kyle Meinke opens with "all due respect, but have you lost your mind" and doesn't back off much from there:
"I’m a big advocate for playing as many games as possible on campus, but I’m also a realist to know when you get to the point where you got those kinds of national games, with teams coming to various regions of the country, playing outdoors in the Midwest in January probably is not going to be a salable option," he said.
Right. Because Lambeau Field and Soldier Field and Gillette Stadium and MetLife Stadium have such a hard time drawing fans for December and January games.
Of course, Delany revealed minutes later the Big Ten is interested in adding the Pinstripe Bowl to its postseason slate -- a game that's played in late December in New York City. So, apparently the Big Ten doesn't mind playing postseason games in the cold, as long as they're not playoff games.
And what about all the fans, who likely will be asked to travel to a Big Ten championship game, national semifinal and national title game within the span of a month?
If you were to ask me why Jim Delany and the Big Ten brass have, essentially, given up without a fight to be able to host semi-final playoff games on college campuses – I would not have a coherent answer for you.
Corn Nation, which doesn't have the lingering fondness of a Big Ten tradition:
I hate the Rose Bowl. I hated it before we joined the Big Ten, I hated it last year, and I'm going to hate it even more now. I don't want a college playoff system if it includes the existing bowl system. I don't care about Rose Bowl tradition.
I wanted to see a SEC team play in freezing temperatures in the snow some day before I die. Now it looks like I'm just going to have to live forever. Bastards.
Yesterday, Michigan State's athletic director, Mark Hollis, informed us peasants about the death of on-campus semi-final games. The "value" of the Rose Bowl has to be maintained, you see. I guess I'm not surprised fossils are defending other fossils which make them money. It's a hell of a ruse, and I guess in the end, I have to tip my cap and wait for the Grim Reaper to do what he does.
To hide behind the fallacy that elite B1G teams set the Rose Bowl as their ultimate goal is a joke. That joke becomes the kind you don't deliver in front of women and children when you basically go out of your way to disadvantage your own teams by not pushing for warm climate schools to possibly play big boy football in football weather.
As icing on the cake, the decision makers put an even greater financial burden on fans who will be racking up a lot more air miles with no chance of a home semifinal or at least a semifinal potentially located within the conference footprint.
With self inflicted decisions like this, it's not hard to understand why the B1G struggles to be elite on the gridiron. But hey, at least we still have the Rose Bowl tradition.
Get The Picture, a Georgia partisan:
I give up. These guys really are that dumb. If I were the folks at ESPN, once I got them signed on the dotted line for the next postseason TV deal, I’d invite ‘em all over for a friendly game of poker. There’s no reason to leave them with any money in their wallets.
There was also the Wetzel piece, a Holdin' The Rope bit, and a bunch of other stuff I could keep linking for days. Everyone hates the Big Ten's meek-shall-inherit act.
Further statements to make your head explode. Urban Meyer:
"I would rather have neutral sites," Meyer said. "I'm not sure you can, on a crisp December day here in Columbus, have a Southern team come up to play. The Southern teams I coached [at Florida], I know it would be a problem."
Meanwhile, I found the Brandon quote about fairness:
"I think there are two issues," Brandon said Wednesday after meetings with conference AD's wrapped up. "One is the salability of that to the other conferences in terms of whether that is a fair fight to bring somebody up in the snow of January from the South. Whatever system we come up with it has to be agreed to by everybody, so that is the practical reality."
ARGHHHHHHHH (The other issue is that players like free vacations.)
In other bowl news. The Big Ten is thinking about diversifying its bowl locations. Right now there's the Rose and then Florida Florida Florida Florida. Delany:
"When you have three bowls in Florida and you're a school that is constantly in that range for selection, your fan base could end up, in a five-year period, four times in the state of Florida," Delany said. "So does that depress the interest? Again, sometimes less is more. Is there a way to give them a taste of Florida and Phoenix and Texas and other places in California? We want to have the fan base excited about going, about who they're playing and about where they're playing.
Delany said they'd be interested in the Pinstripe Bowl in New York—probably the least-embarrassingly-named minor bowl around—and Graham Couch, the author of the above-linked piece, speculates that the Big Ten would like to move in on California bowls like the Holiday and the Fight Hunger Bowl. You may remember the latter as the host of the saddest game in the history of college football (Illinois-UCLA, featuring two fired coaches and zero winning records), but it's in San Francisco so at least it's somewhere interesting. I said my bit on this already; diversity is good, they should put one in Denver. Average temps there in January are in the 40s. Not exactly Frozen Tundra.
Minor violations ahoy. Another minor avalanche of secondary violations from OSU contains little of note except another screwup from Gene Smith, but I want to point out this guy:
…assistant coach Mike Vrabel [was] using smokeless tobacco on the sidelines during football games last season, which was noted and reported to Ohio State by a Columbus-area health teacher, and was a secondary violation of NCAA rules against using tobacco during games or practice.
Of course the guy ratting on Vrabel is a high school health teacher. Now let me tell you about these sexually transmitted diseases. Remember, kids, everything is going to kill you. Now read a book or die.
BONUS: article features Only Lawyer In America Michael Buckner.
"In general, if you're not reporting numerous secondary violations, then from the NCAA perspective, that could be considered a bad sign," Buckner said.
Someone find another lawyer. Surely we must have a second somewhere in this country.
Etc.: Big Ten to make title game tickets less deliciously scalpery. Michigan to spend a quarter of a billion dollars on non-revenue sports facilities over the next ten years. Even the Big Ten schools regularly hovering around 6-6 want bowl minimums increased. More Beilein transfer policy stuff. Staples endorses a committee. 2013 Scout Bball revamp moves Walton up, adds Donnall, still omits Irvin, confusing local observers greatly. Josh Levin says one-year scholarships are the "most evil thing about college sports" in Slate.
it is pretty nice.
Read between the lines on other athletic directors' remarkably malleable opinions to find out where the wind is blowing on the idea of playing home games in the first round of the playoffs:
Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis told the Lansing State-Journal that a plan to hold the coming four-team playoff semifinals on campus sites -- one most prominently supported by none other than Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany -- was no longer on the BCS negotiating table. He said that maintaining the value of the Rose Bowl, however, was "critical."
Those sentiments were echoed by Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, who said that his opinion had "shifted" on the idea of playing the semifinals at bowl venues rather than on-campus sites, with the Rose Bowl presumably one of those two semifinal hosts. He added that the rest of the league's A.D.'s had been similarly convinced.
Likewise, Nebraska's Tom Osborne left no doubt as to where his opinions stood:
Neb's Osborne: If you play semis outside bowls, "it would pretty much destroy the bowl system." [ED: And?]
Three athletic directors saying that home games were a bad idea within minutes of each other means the idea is dead and the public relations people are getting in some horse-beatin' time to save face. Who knows whether the three guys above really believe what they're saying about how critical the Rose Bowl is? Not us. Maybe not even them. Damn you, Don Draper.
End result: the Rose Bowl will be better-preserved than it has been recently—almost entirely preserved. If you'd like to see your team try to win a national title you're going to have a ton of frequent flier miles, with which you can go… see more games thousands of miles from you. It's a win-win. Also think of the economy.
It's just a flesh wound
No, really, it's just a flesh wound.
It may be time to shoot the Rose Bowl in the head, and by "shoot it in the head" I mean "barely do anything to it at all." A four-team playoff would not have seriously affected the attractiveness of the Rose Bowl in the past decade relative to the current system.
The following bullets look at the results if the playoff expanded to four and you either took the top four teams in the BCS standings or used the top-six champs-autobid structure:
- 2011: Wisconsin-Oregon is unchanged (or becomes Wisconsin-Stanford if a hypothetical committee reasonably picks the Ducks over Stanford).
- 2010: Wisconsin-TCU turns into… hard to tell. If conference champs get priority and Wisconsin gets sucked into the playoff, you get OSU-Stanford, a #4-#6 matchup. If Stanford gets in as the #4 team in the BCS standings, you get Wisconsin and 8-5 USC, if USC wasn't banned. So either very little damage or a ton of damage; Rose Bowl might pivot and pick some other team instead of going deep down the rabbit hole.
- 2009: OSU-Oregon is unchanged.
- 2008: USC-Penn State unchanged.
- 2007: USC-Illinois unchanged.
- 2006: Michigan either gets into the playoff or gets booted by the conference champs rule by USC(#5) and Louisville(#6)—fume city, baby! If they're in, Rose Bowl is USC-Wisconsin. UW was 11-1 that year. If they're out, it's Michigan-Cal (9-3). Damage: there, but not huge.
- 2005: Rose Bowl was famous USC-Texas NC game. PSU and OSU were #3 and #4, So either OSU gets booted for SEC champ Georgia (#7. so no) or gets in. If they get in, next option is 9-3 Wisconsin. 10-2 Oregon gets the Pac-10 bid.
- 2004: Michigan-Texas becomes either Michigan-Utah (Utah was 11-0 and #6, but not playing in the Pac-10) or Michigan-Cal. Cal was 10-1 with only a loss to rampant USC.
- 2003: Michigan and USC get in the playoff. Rose becomes #5 OSU vs 9-3 WSU. This one is pretty bad.
- 2002: WSU-Oklahoma turns into what it always should have been: WSU-Iowa. This was the year Iowa ended up in the Orange Bowl because of dumb BCS selection procedures.
In those ten years you have six where there is no change, an insignificant one (2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2004, 2002), or an improvement. We've created a Rose Bowl from nothing for 2005, one which is a little lame. 2006 is either little damage or moderate. 2010 is either a push or very, very bad. Bad to the point where you'd have to have some provision to prevent an 8-5 team from playing in the Rose Bowl. 2003 is admittedly a major downgrade.
So there is damage. I'm not sure how the powers that be perceive a Rose Bowl in which #2 OSU plays #3 Georgia in a national semi. Is that damage? It is not the hallowed Big Ten-Pac 12 matchup.
Let's say that's not damage and the Rose Bowl will be a series of traditional matchups with the occasional weird-but-very-good interloper. Is the above damage something that would cause you to reject the concept of on-campus semifinals? The Rose Bowl would become a consolation prize. Rather, it would stay a consolation prize, which is what it's been for almost every year of the BCS's existence. Has that hurt it? A bit. Much? No.
I find it hard to believe the Big Ten power brokers would look at the above and come back white as a sheet at the prospects of the future. Dan Wetzel annihilated the thought process that results in the quotes above in his column…
[The Rose Bowl is so] critical that they're willing to make business decisions based on emotion, willing to give up on competitive advantages, logistical ease and monetary benefits.
Possible home-field advantage for Big Ten teams? We love the Rose Bowl.
Making the elements, which Big Ten teams are presumably better equipped to handle, a factor in the playoffs? We love the Rose Bowl.
Showcasing the incredible game-day environment of Camp Randall, Happy Valley or the Big House? We love the Rose Bowl.
Not requiring fans, students and players' families to continue to make lengthy postseason trips? We love the Rose Bowl.
Creating economic impact in the league's hometowns? We love the Rose Bowl.
Not taking discretionary spending out of the region and into California or Florida? We love the Rose Bowl.
…and he's right. Here's another opportunity to point at the Big Ten's lack of will to power relative to the SEC, Texas, and, increasingly, the Pac-12. That or they just got outvoted and are trying to make it look good.
Either way, an argument about the bowl system has featured arguments hastily assembled to pretend something that makes no sense in fact does. Tradition!