Every Year. Same Time. Once. The Last Time.

Submitted by Brian on August 26th, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Two must-read posts: Ramzy at Bucknuts on whoredom and Doctor Saturday on the sheer lack of sense.

I'm not posting this in the hope that it will change anything. Since Dave Brandon came out in favor of moving the Michigan-Ohio State game to midseason there's been tremendous fan pushback, with opinion running about 10-to-1 against. It obviously doesn't matter, because the men in suits are ramping up the meaningless PR doublespeak to alarming levels:

…the reason the Big Ten is great is because of our fans. We had five and a half million fans come to games [in 2009]. Whether it’s the Rose Bowl or Ohio State-Michigan, we welcome that, and there’s an awful lot of discussion of, generally speaking, how our fans feel about what we do. We're not fan-insensitive, we're fan-receptive and are only interested in doing what is going to grow our fan base.

Whenever someone starts talking about how great the fans are, the fans are about to get it in uncomfortable places, especially when that's the first thing they talk about in the face of obvious, massive opposition. Meanwhile, the SID is trying to calm people over email by saying for Michigan and Ohio State to meet for the conference title they will "have to play their way into the championship game." If it was a trial balloon people would be walking it back by now after the reaction it's received. The thing is far enough along that Barry Alvarez is flat-out stating that Iowa and Wisconsin will be split up. It's actually happening.

So this doesn't matter. But here's why Michigan and Ohio State's athletic directors should be out in the streets rounding up pitchfork-toting mobs instead of rolling over like Indiana:

The financial benefits are almost literally zero. Dan Wetzel cites a TV executive claiming that at maximum, the vague possibility of Michigan and Ohio State meeting in a Big Ten championship game once a decade might be worth two million dollars a year ("it might be half that," he adds). Even taking the most optimistic number, the end result for Michigan is another 150k per year (the conference takes a share). Assuming an average of seven home games a year, Michigan could earn that by raising ticket prices twenty cents. Meanwhile, every other Big Ten team sees the same increase in their bottom line.

Twenty cents!

Michigan and Ohio State will almost never meet. The Plain Dealer looked back at the league since Penn State's addition and concluded that in the last sixteen years, a Michigan-Ohio State championship game would have happened all of three times.

In the future you can expect that to be far less frequent. Michigan will be guaranteed that 1) they play an outstanding Ohio State team and 2) three of the other five teams in their division do not. If the matchup is going to occur it's going to be the same for Ohio State. The loser of that game is going to have to overcome that deficit against teams that have a much easier schedule. The addition of Nebraska adds another historic power to the league. "Once a decade" is not hyperbole. It's a reasonable estimate.

As a result, you are turning M-OSU from something that will always have stakes to something you hope to do over. This is Delany's reasoning:

"If Duke and North Carolina were historically the two strongest programs and only one could play for the right to be in the NCAA tournament, would you want them playing in the season-ending game so one is in and one is out?" he asked. "Or would you want them to play and have it count in the standings and then they possibly could meet for the right to be in the NCAA or the Rose Bowl?

"We've had those debates. It's a good one. The question is whether you want to confine a game that's one of the greatest rivalries of all time to a divisional game."

Yes. Because the loser of that game is doomed and knows it. Moving it to midseason just makes it a particularly high hurdle that might not mean much—that the conference explicitly hopes doesn't mean much—at the end of the year, when the two teams can do it again, except indoors in Indianapolis. Doctor Saturday:

Keep the game what it's always been, the ritualistic culmination of an entire season in a single, freezing orgy of centuries-old hate that cannot be overturned or redeemed for at least another 365 days. In good years, the division championship (hence a shot at the conference championship) will be on the line, preserving the familiar winner-take-all/loser-go-home intensity that made "The Game" what it is in the first place.

You are doing something your fans hate. The kids don't get paid, the stadium doesn't have advertising, the idea that there is a Michigan Thing that it is possible not to "get" in a way that it is not possible Jim Schwartz does not "get" the Lions Thing: these are the things that separate college football from minor league baseball. For decades Michigan's season has had a certain shape defined by the great Satan at the end of it.

This is where the disconnect between the suits and the fans is greatest. Beating Ohio State isn't about winning the Big Ten, it's about beating Ohio State, just like the Egg Bowl is about beating that other team in Mississippi or the Civil War is about beating that other team in Oregon or any billion other year-end rivalry games that have been played since the Great Depression. M-OSU is the super-sized version of the old-fashioned rivalries based on pure hate. It's not Miami-Florida State, a game entirely dependent on the teams being national contenders for it to even sell out, but the Big Ten is treating it like the country's fakest rivalry game anyway.

It so happens that a lot of the time OSU and Michigan do decide the Big Ten, but did anyone want to beat OSU less in the mid-90s when Michigan limped into the game with 3 or 4 losses every year? Or last year? No. Would it matter less as an October game to be followed by three or four more? Necessarily yes. Is that the worst thing in the world? Yes.

I have no tolerance for anyone too dense to grasp this, much less see it as a potentially good thing, as Dave at Maize N Brew does. I said his post on the matter was the stupidest thing I'd ever seen a Michigan fan write and it remains so. Orson's post on the matter is also the dumbest thing I've ever seen him write. The reason college football matters in a way the NFL does not is the idea it has that some things are not worth selling. Once the date of the Michigan-Ohio State game goes the only thing left is the labor of the players.

I'll still be there. I don't have a choice, really, but the special kind of misery I'll experience when Michigan plays Ohio State at 8 PM in October and Special K blasts "Lose Yourself" during a critical review will make me feel like an exploited sap, not a member of a community in which my opinions matter. They clearly don't. This will matter in the same way erosion does.

AND NOW: A BUNCH OF UNAFFILIATED FOLK SHARE THEIR OPINIONS

Jerry Hinnen:

Speaking as an Auburn fan on Big 10 moving M/OSU to midseason: If they'd tried that w/ the Iron Bowl I'd have burned SEC HQ to the ground

Doctor Saturday:

Because I have a soul, I've already firmly aligned myself with the "armageddon" crowd, made up of those of us who can't stand the thought of one side telling the other in mid-October, "We'll see you again when it really matters." Which probably means I've aligned myself with the losing side. Whatever the motivations of its less influential champions, the prospect of a Buckeye-Wolverine split only has traction among people who matter because the people who matter see a buck in it: If one Ohio State-Michigan game is good, two Ohio State-Michigan games must be even better, and I'm sure they have the ratings projections and accompanying ad rates to prove it. The rivalry has already defined and shaped the national perception of the Big Ten for the last 50 years; just think of the possibility of the rivalry-as-championship game as "expanding the brand."

Mike Rothstein:

Saving this game at the end is the culmination of a season-long crescendo.

Michigan-Indiana at the end of the year, for example, doesn’t offer the same cachet.

And it never will.

Stewart Mandel:

Are you kidding me? It's been played the last week of the season all but once since 1935, and it's the league's single most important franchise. You would think conference leaders would go to any length to protect it. …

Sometimes leaders make decisions without properly thinking through the issues. This one sounds like a case of over-thinking. Do the right thing, Mr. Delany, Mr. Brandon and Mr. Smith, lest the ghosts of Woody and Bo haunt you in your sleep.

John Taylor:

Be warned, Big Ten: you move The Game, you will rip the heart and suck the soul out of the single greatest property the conference owns.  And for what, a few more advertising dollars every few years when they do happen to stumble into a title showdown?  One that will, incidentally, likely be contested in a sterile, domed, neutral location as opposed to yet another reason that The Game is what it is -- The Big House and The Shoe.

So… yeah. Join the Facebook page. Maybe it will help. It won't, actually, but maybe you'll feel better about it.

Comments

joeyb

August 26th, 2010 at 4:16 PM ^

I'm not blindly following him. I legitimately think it would be better. I'm excited because we get to possibly ruin their shot at the championship and when they finish the season strong for a rematch against us, we get to kick their asses again.

You seem to think that the hate between the two teams will disappear because we aren't playing in the last game of the season. News flash: the last game of the season is the championship game. The hate between fan bases existed before OSU was established, before the game of football was invented, before they played the first game, before Yost, before we beat them 9 times in a row, before we started playing the last game of the year every year, before Fritz, before 98, before Woody, before Bo, before the 10-year war, 2-10-1, before The Pose, before 313, before #2, before Sweater Vest, before 2003, before 2006, before Rich Rod, before Boren, and before losing 6 in a row.

Don't tell me that I "just don't get it". I fucking get it. What everyone seems to forget is that it was the hate between the states that drove the rivalry, not some date on a fucking calendar. Playing the last game of the season might have helped contribute to some but the satisfaction from seeing Craig Krenzel's face after 35-21 doesn't go away because it was played a week or two earlier. The only way it could have been better is if I got to see it twice.

So a majority of people might disagree with that. It might even be 10:1 against me. That doesn't mean that either is right or wrong. It's opinion, not fact. At best, it means that the most people would be satisfied, but that has nothing to do with right and wrong. 

If you want to disagree with me, that's fine. I don't care. I enjoy debate. But, don't fucking tell me that I "just don't get it".

Ernis

August 26th, 2010 at 6:18 PM ^

You can have your opinion but this:

What everyone seems to forget is that it was the hate between the states that drove the rivalry, not some date on a fucking calendar.

is factually incorrect. The placement of the game at the end of the season had a profound effect on its significance. Because it was the last game, it was the final test, the deciding moment! It was when all the cards were on the table and everything was coming down to a sequence of events, and you know they were gonna play their guts out because it was all they had left!

Can you seriously tell me that doesn't matter? Think about movies... think of Conan the Barbarian. Can you really sit there and pretend that if Conan killed Thalsa Doom at the beginning of the movie, that the movie would be just as badass as it is? Consider it: Conan sees his village destroyed by Doom, lives a life of slavery, fights his way to the top of barbarian pimpdom, and smites that snake-sucking weasel from the top of his tower!! You cannot, without being completely delusional, tell me that the movie would be just as entertaining if Conan killed Doom at the beginning.

The satisfaction is derived from the build-up and the finality of it all! Do you really have no sense of context? Do you really .... just not get it?

Obvious, really....

Blue boy johnson

August 26th, 2010 at 9:55 PM ^

Your statement will be factually incorrect as soon as a Big Ten title game is played, that is the other side of the coin, the dreamy sentimentalist don't want to admit

The placement of the game at the end of the season had a profound effect on its significance. Because it was the last game, it was the final test, the deciding moment! It was when all the cards were on the table and everything was coming down to a sequence of events, and you know they were gonna play their guts out because it was all they had left!

harmon98

August 26th, 2010 at 10:23 PM ^

+1 for the conan reference.  the devil is not in the details on this.  it's really painfully obvious isn't it.  context is the crux.  

after all, what is best in life?

To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women. 

umuncfan11

August 26th, 2010 at 3:23 PM ^

MGoPoints - The way to get back at someone who disagrees with you or makes a rationale statement.

MGoPoints - Our motto is: Benefitting people who follow the crowd.

 

I agree with the idea of keeping the game as it is.  I hate the idea of playing in the middle of October.  I hate that Michigan-OSU's sacredness will be diminished.  I hate that we won't get to experience a cool, late-November game ending our seasons.  I hate that the conference realignment has caused all of this.  But, whining about it isn't going to get anywhere.  Writing MSC isn't going to get anywhere.  Threatening not to donate money to Michigan isn't going to get anywhere.  People are overreacting and coming across sounding like whiners.  Go ahead and Neg Neg Neg me.  MGoPoints are so pointless because they only benefit you if you follow the crowd or make some idiotic statement that others think is funny.

jmblue

August 26th, 2010 at 3:32 PM ^

We are the customer.  It's the league's job to keep us satisfied.  We have every right to complain and they have every obligation to listen.  And they should, because if the Game becomes watered down by this idiotic move, then even when we do meet for our once-a-decade rematch, its value will be diminished.    

csam1490

August 26th, 2010 at 3:25 PM ^

I don't understand how he could be so dense:

"If you split teams, whether it's Purdue and Indiana or Illinois and Northwestern or Michigan-Ohio State or Nebraska and Penn State, if you split them, they can both go [to the championship game]," Delany said. "If you don't split them, only one can go."

Exactly - if you don't split them, only one team can get what it wants every year. So you are going to make it possible for am OSU fan to say, "It's okay if we lose to U-M in game 4 of the 9 Big Ten games. We can still make the championship and play our way into the BCS."

I don't understand. Is the payoff of a U-M - OSU Big Ten Championship Game so high that it outweighs the risk of steadily-declining seasonal revenue from The Game?

jmblue

August 26th, 2010 at 3:28 PM ^

Fantastic.  This sums it all up perfectly. 

How is it possible that the vast majority of us can understand this but Delany, Brandon and Smith can't?

ChalmersE

August 26th, 2010 at 3:37 PM ^

the consequences of a loss (or a win) in October to the rest of the season.  Let's take a couple of examples: 

-- OSU comes in to late October 7-1 (loss to Texas) and loses to Michigan.  How would you like to get the Buckeyes up for the next couple of games, knowing that they're probably not going to the championship game and they don't have the Michigan game to redeem the season.  [For argument's sake, you may substitute Michigan for OSU and vice versa.]

-- Michigan comes in to late October 8-0 and whips OSU.  How hard is it going to be for RR to get the guys to take the next couple of opponenets seriously (and how much would MSU enjoy being the spoiler).  And, for those of you, who say that won't happen, I remind you of the big wins over Notre Dame and the games the following weeks. 

If it were up to me, I would suggest that Michigan and OSU fans stage a boycott of the B10 Network until these geniuses come to their senses.   It may only be 1/6 of the conference, but believe me the ratings hit would be substantial.

Deep Under Cover

August 26th, 2010 at 3:40 PM ^

I just emailed Jim Delany and Gordon Gee (I am an OSU student....).  Everyone should, it only takes a few minutes!

It is sad.  I am 22 years old and thinking about how I will one day have to tell my kids what THE RIVALRY was really all about.

Chunks the Hobo

August 26th, 2010 at 3:41 PM ^

When the expansion was announced, I didn't worry about UM-OSU because I literally did not believe anyone could be this fucking dumb.

I am sorry to see how wrong I was.  I really am tired of the world being run by psychopathic cocks like Delany when rational, normal people outnumber them, like, 1000 to 1.  I do not advocate violence, but I also would not be sad to see the heads of the Delanys of the world on pikes ushering in a glorious new era of non-dickheaded humanity.

Yeah, I'll still watch... but I won't really give a fuck anymore and I won't buy any more gear and shit because... yeah, I don't give a fuck.

aawolve

August 26th, 2010 at 3:47 PM ^

After some time for thought, and some good insight from others, I am now adamant that the game must stay the way it is. Nice post, but it's pretty infantile behavior to go on to the comments section of someone else's blog to insult them.

DCLeopard91

August 26th, 2010 at 3:48 PM ^

Guys, I love all of your responses and agree with you.  Now please take that extra ONE MINUTE and cut and paste some of what you've just said and email everyone that counts so we flood them with our opinions:

 

 

Here's the addy for Big 10 Commish Jim Delany
[email protected]

 

Michigan--
President Mary Sue Coleman: [email protected] AND 


[email protected]

Football (Athletic Dept): [email protected] (attn: Dave Brandon) AND

 


[email protected]

Ohio State--
President Gordon Gee: [email protected]
AD Gene Smith: [email protected]

 

Also sign this petition:

 


http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/ohio_state_vs_michigan/signatures 

ACTION IS THE ONLY THING THAT WILL COUNT!!

ish

August 26th, 2010 at 3:55 PM ^

I don't understand why, even if we and OSU are in separate divisions, we can't play on the final day of the regular season.  i know there's excitment of settling who will play in the championship game and an intra-division game would have more impact on that result than an inter-division game, but nothing would have the excitment of an UM-OSU game.

Johnnybee123

August 26th, 2010 at 3:59 PM ^

What makes Michigan-Ohio State special IS NOT that it potentially decides the Big Ten championship.  Anyone who thinks that is out of touch.  The reason it's so intense is because one team frequently plays spoiler to the other team.  We did it all the time in the 90s and almost did it a few time in the 2000s. 

When the teams are split up, the only time the spoiler role will be in effect is when either Michigan or Ohio state is undefeated or on the off chance that a loss will knock one of them out of the Big Ten championship game (based on how divisonal standings are determined).  The game will never have the spoiler-end-of-the-season effect that it once did unless they are in the same division.

I guarantee you that this will no longer be viewed as the greatest rivalry in sports if we're in different divisions.  Hell, I'd be more eager to watch OU-Texas, because I know that they'd play each other with real consequences on the line.

Craig

August 26th, 2010 at 4:59 PM ^

I used to admire the PAC10 because they played a round robin and wished the Big Ten could do that as well. Now the PAC10 is no longer 10 they won't play everyone either. At some point, even having conferences becomes pointless when you don't play everyone in your conference.

stmccoy

August 26th, 2010 at 4:06 PM ^

If they don't change this BS, 50 years from now, you are going to have 70-80 year old fans of Michigan and Ohio State telling their grandchildren how a small group of individuals destroyed the most meaningful day of the year.  Even people looking in from the outside understand the meaning of the Game as is, and do so without the attached emotion held by fans involved on both sides.  These guys need to figure it out and stop screwing with things that haven't broken in generations. 

Dr. BSD

August 26th, 2010 at 4:09 PM ^

Horrible atrocities are taking place in the world right now that demands this lack of intolerance. For example, the destruction of real wolverines habitats. Don't talk about this game being moved as if it deserves this type of intolerance. It's disrespectful to the innocent youth that spend their days as slaves producing lets say....footballs.

Enjoy Life

August 26th, 2010 at 4:11 PM ^

This totally sucks because the game could often be totally meaningless as far as division standings is concerned.

If M beats every other team in the division and only loses to osu (bleak!), they would still be division champions since every other team in the division has at least one loss (to M) and M wins the head to head within division tie-breaker.

Thus the importance of the game is -- by definition -- decreased.

Leave M and osu in the same division and play the game on the last Saturday of the regular season.

Ed Shuttlesworth

August 26th, 2010 at 4:16 PM ^

The expansion added another traditional power to the Big Ten and assured that 2006 will never ever happen again.   Those are two pretty big deals that are being overlooked.

Once the BCS became the be-all, end-all of Michigan and Ohio State football, this day became inevitable.  The Big Ten, like all the other conferences, is a waystation to something bigger and that's what practically every serious Michigan fan wanted.  The alternative is for the Big Ten and Pac 10 and Rose Bowl to tell the BCS to stick it and keep that tradition, but that fight's been fought.

If The Game is the last game, you may have it two weeks in a row and that sucks.

Life moves on.  

caup

August 26th, 2010 at 4:25 PM ^

Seriously. 

I will definitely take a vacation day to join an unruly mob and protest this travesty.

Just tell me the time and place.

Ed Shuttlesworth

August 26th, 2010 at 5:01 PM ^

The game has been meaningless in the standings many, many times.  1982, 1988, last year, etc. 

The 2006 win over Fatso was one of the best wins of the 00s and it was in September.  The game meant everything to everyone on this board.

To repeat:  Does everybody here want Michigan and Ohio State to NEVER AGAIN play for the Big Ten championship?  Really? 

M-Wolverine

August 26th, 2010 at 5:31 PM ^

Because 99% of the time, you won't be able to win the Big Ten without beating OSU, as only the division winner can play for it.

Separate them, and it'll be such a rare occurrence, that no one will remember it has significance most of the time. Because they never really "played for a championship"; they played a game that may have come down to them at that point, but it wasn't a championship game.  Which can never happen again, anyway, because there is a championship game. It changed. And to change it more, is for the worse.

Chunks the Hobo

August 26th, 2010 at 6:10 PM ^

Two points:

1) Are you really comparing the Notre Dame game to the OSU game? Apples and oranges, historically. Not at all the same thing.

2) Everyone understands that the addition of the championship game has altered things. Keeping M and OSU in the same division is merely the least bad option for maintaining the intensity of the traditional rivalry. Having them in separate divisions and then moving the game are worse options. Which of course the assholes in suits are going to opt for, God damn them to hell.

M-Dog

August 27th, 2010 at 6:19 AM ^

the last game of the season, every year.

This is more important to me than the possibility of playing Ohio State once or twice a decade in an NFL dome in the Big 10 title game.

If Expansion requires change and making choices, then this is my rational choice.

You may disagree, but you can't "not understand".

Craig

August 26th, 2010 at 4:29 PM ^

Everything I love about Michigan football in the last few years has been pooped on, lit on fire and pooped on again, all for the $dolla bills$. I watch college football because it is more than winning and losing, it is tradition. I'm a Michigan fan because I like what Michigan represents and what it is: its culture, the winged helmets, the big house, the cold November afternoons playing that school down south, etc. All of these things give you "ownership" of a team. Of course not real ownership, but you feel that you are part of something bigger than you. It means something. You know all the tidbits of knowledge about your team and can recall memories of games past. This is why rivalries are so great in college football. If you change the Game, to be practically an exhibition game, it will lose its luster, and you will have no way to reclaim a losing season by beating your rival at the end of the year.

Changing the brand makes it meaningless. I might as well watch the NFL because I don't recognize college football anymore.

st barth

August 26th, 2010 at 4:42 PM ^

If Michigan & Ohio State are not going to be in the same division/conference/whatever and playing on the last day of the season, then we might as well leave the Big Ten.  Maybe we could become the Texas of the Big East?  That would give us easy access to a BCS slot every year.

 

I'm just going to go vomit now.

Ed Shuttlesworth

August 26th, 2010 at 5:29 PM ^

And if you win the OSU game and lose the next week in Indy, there, you've changed the meaning of the OSU game.

Simply having to play another Big Ten game -- a very important one -- changes the meaning of the OSU game.

You can't have a Big Ten championship game and have regular season Michigan-OSU have the same meaning it's always had.  It's literally impossible.

MCalibur

August 26th, 2010 at 5:29 PM ^

I've said this already but I'll say it again. Brandon and Smith need to vehemently oppose this or they lose a huge chunk of their credibility with their bases. If the rest of the conference want's to steam roll them and mess around with The Game, that's their business. Institute a 7 punds of flesh tax every football season for the rest of time. Make those assholes pay for their transgressions forever and ever. But, until that happens there's only one right move if you're a fan of The Game, stand there with your middle finger waving, waiting for the cataclysmic asteroid to hit you. You're going to die, but you don't have to embrace it.

Ernis

August 26th, 2010 at 6:30 PM ^

Pride, honor, and nobility!

What is noble? Consider the noble gases -- everything around them is engaged in a repulsive, atomic fuckshow. But the noble gases? Not so much. They are above it all.

That is noble -- to be unaffected by the rabble! Don't embrace disgrace!