Hokepoints: B1G Bowls and the Michigan Difference

Submitted by Seth on June 25th, 2013 at 11:20 AM


The Game 1974 via Bentley

With the new bowl lineup I thought I'd delve into the conference's history with the things this week. Chart of sane bowl names is here.

The beginning

We whomped Stanford in 1901 so bad they canceled bowl games for a decade.

Rose or Bust.

For a time there was only the Rose Bowl. Then others began to pop up and the Big Ten wouldn't let teams go (Ohio State snuck over to Pasadena after the 1920 season but that was it). Then they said only one team may take a bid from the Rose Bowl.

It's been nearly 40 years and yet any Michigan fan over 50 still shakes with anger at it: In 1973 Michigan and Ohio State met in one of the more epic battles in that epic ten-year war. After Michigan missed three field goals in the 4th quarter the game—and thus the Big Ten title race—ended in a tie. In the process the Wolverines' starting quarterback Denny Franklin was busted up. Woody Hayes, never a particularly classy individual, made an uninformed remark to the media that he's sorry Franklin wouldn't be able to play in the bowl game. In part because they believed Michigan would be without Denny, the conference's athletic directors voted to send Ohio State to the Rose Bowl.

The following year Michigan did make their game-winning field goal, but the officials missed it and there was no replay, and Ohio State again went to Pasadena. Since the Big Ten wouldn't let its teams attend any other bowl, both times a more deserving Michigan had to stay home. Overall Franklin and the Wolverines managed to go three years (1972-'74) without a bowl game despite going 30-2-1 over that span.

The whole concept was as mind-blowingly ridiculous as it seems, and the following year the conference finally got rid of the rule that had become outdated due to...

Bowl Expansion

The conference deigned to allow its teams to go to bowls again only after WWII, and then it was "you can only go to the Rose Bowl if they invite you." Once the Big Ten released its members it sparked a new round of bowl expansion (click to inbigmatate):


Note the Y axis is "Bowl Teams" not games—divide by two to get # of games. Some oddities: Michigan wasn't in the Big Ten from 1907 to 1916, not that it made any difference. Having one yellow dot in the bowl picture looks ridiculous. Michigan State went to an Orange Bowl before joining the conference. Penn State and Nebraska obviously went to plenty of bowls before they joined. Ohio State turned down its Rose Bowl bids in 1960 and '61 because of academics(!); Minnesota went in their stead.

Michigan's Placement

Since the bowl field expanded, the Big Ten's tie-ins have gone through a series of confusing shifts, order only recently having been brought into the process. Owing to its TV draw and instant draw the bowls have typically taken Michigan almost as soon as they're allowed to. As a result when you look at the conference's bowl history you can see Michigan tends to go early even in its rough years.


This is ordered by selection (starting from the left). Historically Michigan has been selected higher than its standing in the conference, the more so the lower down we get. For example in 1984 Michigan received an at-large Holiday Bowl bid—effectively the conference's third selector after the Rose and then the Cotton Peach took Purdue as an at-large—despite finishing behind Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin, and tied with Michigan State, whom we lost to that year. Since then there have been progressively more stringent so-Michigan-State-won't-cry rules placed by the conference on the bowls for which teams they can select. Before it was they have to be within 1 or 2 losses of each other. Under the new system there's a tier:

The New Lineup and the Golden Vagina:

1. Teams selected by the playoff committee go to the Golden Vagina Playoff.

College_Football_Playoff_Logo2. If the champion is still around they go to the Rose Bowl (vs Pac-12 or at-large), or the Orange Bowl (vs SEC or at-large) in years the Rose are the playoff hosts (2014 and every three years after).

3. BCS bowls can extend an at-large bid.

4. Citrus Bowl (SEC), Outback Bowl (SEC) and Holiday Bowl (Pac-12). Those bowls will unofficially switch off who gets first pick but really the conference will be sitting there negotiating who gets which school with the goal of rewarding better teams and changing things up a bit. Said Delany:

"Someone will obviously select first, but they may or may not get the team they want because that team may have been in that region two years in a row. We're trying to make sure there’s freshness. It's hard when a team goes to say Florida five times in six years to get them really excited."

5. Gator or Music City (SEC), San Francisco (Pac-12), and Pinstripe (ACC). The first two switch off with that bid.

6. Heart of Dallas or Ft. Worth Armed Forces Bowl (Big 12), Motor City Bowl (TBA)

The only way the Big Ten champ will play the Pac 12 champ is if both are seeded as such in the playoff, or both miss the playoff. I am guessing it will not happen very often. The tier system is a rather eloquent method of handling the problem of Michigan State's blubbering over bowls falling over themselves to avoid them. See? You're on the same tier. Everyone on the same tier is the same.

Still Broken

The new system does have its problems:

  • Not all of the payouts on each tier are equivalent right now—that seems like it can be negotiated.
  • In a scenario where Michigan State beats Michigan in the regular season, thus winning the tiebreaker to get into the Big Ten Championship Game, and MSU subsequently loses that game and is no longer BCS eligible because they're ranked too low now, and Michigan is still ranked high enough for a BCS bid and gets one, Michigan State will still cry.
  • In any given scenario, Michigan State will find a reason to cry.



June 25th, 2013 at 11:24 AM ^

Damn I love those uni's.  Instead of a faux throwback why dont we bust those babies out for a game instead?  

All hail Dennis Franklin's 30-2-1 record and no freaking bowl game.  Thanks B1G.


June 25th, 2013 at 11:32 AM ^

If the symbol for the CFP is the Golden V - what are those black things in the middle supposed to be? Is that what happens when you sell yourself for $$$$? 


June 25th, 2013 at 2:09 PM ^

If the logo looked like a pair of ass cheeks, which everyone has, isn't it still fair to ridicule it for looking like something it has no business looking like?

If they mocked a trophy because it looked liked the "cock and balls" trophy, would there be something wrong with that?

If they had going with the mutant ball logo, would calling it that be offensive to mutants?


June 25th, 2013 at 2:21 PM ^

You don't understand. It's quite simple really:

Step 1: notice that a supposedly professionally designed piece of graphic art looks suspiciously like genitals.

Step 2: find this lack of self awareness on the part of the graphic artists amusing.

Step 3: ?

Step 4: you're a sexist bastard


June 25th, 2013 at 2:45 PM ^

I don't see how it's any different than calling Ypsilanti's water tower the thing that it looks like. There is no hatred there; mysogyny implies hatred. The joke may be childish but it's not demeaning in any way except to the designers of it who have lost all vestiges of their 12-year-old brains.


June 25th, 2013 at 5:53 PM ^

Well I'm really bothered by your reaction. I spent way more time than I should have today gathering other opinions on this. If you think it's offensive to mention genitalia at all, okay that's perfectly valid. I still can't see how it could come off as derogatory toward women, and I'm hardly a difficult person to convince. Perhaps I am just confused?

beat ohio

June 25th, 2013 at 12:09 PM ^

Misogyny? Because it says "golden vagina"? The symbol for the college football playoff literally looks like a drawing of a vagina, and it is in gold. No one said "vaginas are evil" "women are stupid" or any other drivel like that (if they had, I'd certainly agree with you). But if the creators of this illustrious playoff had made a symbol that didn't look like a golden vagina, then Seth wouldn't have named it as such.


Besides, the original person to notice this was Spencer on edsbs (look at the second bolded paragraph): http://www.everydayshouldbesaturday.com/2013/4/24/4260684/the-curious-index-4-24-2013

Colin M

June 25th, 2013 at 1:11 PM ^

I'd agree if he implied that Vaginas are gross or done anything else rather than make fun of the NCAA for picking a logo that looks like a sexual organ. That said, the environment here isn't very female friendly and I've definitely read plenty of mysogynistic comments. I just don't think you picked the greatest example.


June 25th, 2013 at 2:35 PM ^

When I was at UM back in the mid '90s, my frat decided to have a party that would be called the "Bermuda Triangle Party."  I was tasked with designing the invite (you know, those quarter-sheet papers that we would give out to girls and scatter in the dorms).  So, I thought, "hmm, Bermuda Triangle.  That's where ships and planes mysteriously disappear..."  So, I drew a picture of a cruise ship going into a triangle, and not coming out the other side.  We had several hundred invitations printed with that drawing on them, and sent our pledges to go hand them out on campus.

A couple months later, somebody reports back that SAPAC had taken my invitation and made it the centerpiece of an anti-date rape bulletin board display.  Apparently they interpreted the cruise-ship-entering-triangle as a piece of clever phallic imagery that would somehow contribute to sexual assault.  I couldn't believe it.  To make matters worse, we were then put on social probation and had to have a pair of SAPAC volunteers come to the frat house and administer sensitivity training.

I just hope SAPAC has something in mind for the NCAA, given this latest transgression.


June 25th, 2013 at 12:14 PM ^

is amazing how quickly Michigan State fan went to the trusty "BCS doesn't matter" defense after that year.  I am thinking it would have mattered if they had gone to it.

Check that out, in the best year of football that Michigan State will ever have for quite some time, Michigan went to and won a BCS bowl game.  I imagine that was a pretty tough pill.


June 25th, 2013 at 12:49 PM ^

"in any given scenario, Michigan State will find a reason to cry.


If I wanted this kind of stupid [stuff], I'd go to RCMB and just add "State" everytime they write the word Michigan.

But pathetic to see it here.


June 25th, 2013 at 12:59 PM ^

Do the payout differentials even matter? I thought revenue was shared equally across all conference schools anyway.

I hereby nominate official entry of GVP (Golden Vagina Playoff) & GVC (Golden Vaginal Champion, replacing MNC) into the MGoDictionary.

French West Indian

June 25th, 2013 at 1:46 PM ^

...of only one-Big-Ten-team to go bowling are why I never got too worked up over the snapping of Michigan's bowl streak.  When you realize the full context and understand that it should have been longer anyways then it's easy to write it off as, like, whatever.



June 25th, 2013 at 2:38 PM ^

In 1984, Purdue went to - and lost in - the Peach, not the Cotton. (It would be their last bowl appearance until the 1997 season.) The only team ever to appear in the Cotton Bowl as a member of the Big Ten was Ohio in the 1986 season. (Maryland, Nebraska, and Penn State went in their previous lives.)

The Peach Bowl was actually a cruel joke. I was a freshman at Purdue the following season; I can still remember seeing the occasional band member wearing their Peach Bowl jacket. With my Michigan background, I was accustomed to annual bowl games, and with Purdue returning senior QB Jim Everett and coming off a bowl appearance, I thought I'd be able to watch some quality football. (I was partly right - some pretty good teams came to visit Ross-Ade in those days.)