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Date Title Body
07/07/2014 - 6:54pm Er, Michigan and ND did not play in 1984

Otherwise, presuming you might have meant 1985, good stuff.

12/06/2012 - 8:58am And this, reTV vs radio...

Those under 35 or 40 might not know that before the mid 80s or so, a team could not be on national or even local live TV more than twice per season (up to late 70s, IIRC) and three times per season by about '80.

So in an 11-game season, you had no choice but to listen to the game on radio to find out what was happening as it happened if you weren't at the game. None. No gametracker on cuz no Internet. No sports TV station.

I remember being at my grandma's house (I think) on the day M lost to Minnesota in 1977. She only had one radio -- a console in the living room, where all the adults were yakking. My only means of finding out what was happening in the M game was to watch the ABC game and wait for scoring updates, which, because UM was #1 at the time, they wound up providing more than usual. (M lost, 16-0)

This is one of the big reasons Bob Ufer was so near and dear to so many M fans' hearts. It's because he (or Tom Hemingway on WWJ) was the one place you had to go to find out how the game was going on 8 or 9 of 11 Saturdays.

The ability to watch a game on TV was a BIG deal. Through 1976 or '77, ABC for its national games would even introduce the players, live, to the stadium and viewers, one at a time. Players who'd just scored at TD used to always wave him to Mom, too, because it was such a rare big deal when a game was on TV.

I suspect that is why radio stations such as 'JR made so much money off the advertising for M games, and Tigers, etc.


11/12/2012 - 9:16am Best-ever 1970s anti-OSU bumper stickers were:



Can't beat those.


10/23/2012 - 2:57pm Fer cry'sake, some of us are just asking for a few antidotes

DeBorges doesn't have to turn in his West Coast offense membership card to throw in the odd bubble, or more fake-zone-read-handoff quick slants, and other plays that make defenses that way overcommit -- like MSU's the past two years -- pay dearly.

11/07/2011 - 9:23pm OK, the Uncle Fester crack was a low blow...

But while I'm still simmering at the inexplicable playcalling by Borges in the MSU and Iowa losses, my point in that last section of the diary was to show that while Denard was only 4/12 on that drive, he was 4/8 in the "two-minute offense" portion of it. That is, in the scramble-down-the-field portion. Denard isn't ever going to be a QB who can pass a team into th end zone consistently from inside the 5. He can't throw a fade, and he's so short that it's hard for him to throw over the line to a TE or slanting slot, etc. I'm mad at Borges there because his QB has talents both running and passing, and deficiencies in passing that are exacerbated from the pocket, and he called four plays that called on Denard to succeed via the latter.


07/03/2011 - 8:58am tooshay

Good grab.

07/03/2011 - 1:00am Precisely my point....

The defense in those three games played well for a quarter, or a bit less, or a bit more. That's it. I never said anything but that.

Just like in those same games, the offense by and large was hit and miss -- more miss than hit in the first half, more hit than miss in the second half.

As painful and (still) shocking as it is digest, RR's Michigan teams in three years played one strong Big Ten game from start to finish in all phases of the game -- at Minnesota in 2008.

07/03/2011 - 12:46am Just early on

I'd have to go back to the play-by-play logs to nail this, but I think UM forced three-and-outs on the first one or two Iowa drives, on the first two Ohio State drives, and forced punts (not three-and-outs, IIRC) on the first two MSU possessions.

By midway through the 2nd quarter, all three foes were pantsing the D pretty bad.


07/03/2011 - 12:35am After someone pulls your tongue out of your throat...

... and changes your pants, take another read.

Michigan eschewed at most seven field-goal attempts in Big Ten play. AT MOST, seven.

By doing so they wound up scoring more points on those very seven drives (27) than they ever possibly could have scored on field-goal attempts (7 x 3 = 21).

And this might be particularly difficult to grasp, but each time if they'd scored 3 on the field goal, they forfeited their chance on that drive to score a touchdown.

(Hey, I aim to earn each and every one of those FUs.)


07/03/2011 - 12:25am In Big Ten play (the only

In Big Ten play (the only stats I went over), UM attempted 7 brown-through-yellow-things, and made 3.

3/6 in 1st halves, 0/1 in 2nd halves.

3/7 is bad but, IMO, not gawdawful. Even though both FG kickers were gawdawful. How that can be?

On the season, factoring in all the non-conf misses, I'm sure the stat plummets more to your recollection.





06/04/2011 - 1:01pm Party up! Ha! Love it. thanks.


05/31/2011 - 12:27pm ... which name given in derision I loved, ergo Durwood


05/31/2011 - 9:38am Yes, you're right

Tressel was so much like Lloyd it wasn't funny -- only he had better players. Rely on a sound defense and special teams as much as possible, to allow you to take as few risks as possible on offense. But on game day, Tressel almost always called the 'right' game. Knew when he didn't have to take chances, but when he figured he did -- he wasn't afraid to open it up completely. His game plan for the 06 Michigan game was truly brilliant.

His dumb luck with QBs helped get the whole thing going (eg, 01-02-03), and maintain it. It's hard for any of us to remember the dynamic that was at play in late October 2004. I remember it well, when we were headed for a second straight Big Ten title and Buckeye fans were grumbling bigtime about Tressel. The gamble to go with Troy Smith was indeed a gamble. No one, even him, could have believed how well it would turn out -- otherwise why the hell did he go exclusively witih Zwick for the first two-thirds of the season.

Anyhow, your point is bang-on. And neeed to be made. Thanks.

05/31/2011 - 8:43am Fandamtastic! Thanks a bunch, TBE

Looked like a quarter on YouTube, but wasn't sure.  Steep price for a newspaper in 1961!

01/19/2011 - 12:31am Miles left BEFORE Mo's meltdown

Left in January 1995, four months before Mo's May meltdown in Southfield.

Know it for a fact.

11/29/2010 - 11:12pm Has even happened at Michigan

Harry Kipke, who won national championships in 1932 and 1933, improved M's record from 1-7 in 1936 to 4-4 in 1937 -- a three-win improvement.

Was axed, as that was his fourth consecutive non-winning season following the national championships.

Fritz Crisler was hired to replace him, and with a lot of talented players that Kipke left behind, Crisler immediately turned Michigan into a winner -- one player of which was eventual Heisman Trophy winner Tom Harmon.

Michigan's three Heisman winners won their trophies with head coaches who did not recruit them. Kipke recruited Harmon, Bo recruited Desmond, and Mo recruited Woodson.

11/29/2010 - 10:18pm Well, gee

I'm sorry I limited my statistical search to the first halves of games, in my attempt to find out how bad the team's first-half scoring woes really were.

And why did I choose to conduct such a search? Because as the original post says, Michigan was out of it -- or close to out of it -- by halftime in the majority of Big Ten games.

I'm no statistics major, but I did take a year of engineering at university so I'm not mathematically challenged. I deal with polling companies occasionally in my job, and if I want them to poll people in a specific region, we limit the darn search. But if you're conducting the poll are you gonna insist it must be done nationally every time, because to narrow the search to a key area is somehow statistically dishonest? I'm missing that part of the argument.

Michigan's offense moved the ball pretty well in the first half of most Big Ten games this year but had a hard time scoring in first halves. That's something I thought about on Saturday, and I thought I'd check the drive sheets and PBP to see if that was indeed the case. It was. The offense let the team down in the big games of the Big Ten season, because whether it moved the ball well or not, it could barely score points -- the whole point of the darn enterprise.

As I said in a different reply somewhere in this thread, I am amazed at the effectiveness of this offense when it works, when it doesn't cack out. The ND defense didn't know whether to s--t, shave or wind its watch at the hands of Denard's wizardry that game. But for whatever reason -- better defenses, bigger defenses, sloppier play, poorer play-calling -- the offense repeatedly shot blanks during long stretches of the crucial first halves of Big Ten games.

If you recall, the maligned defense opened the MSU game with a pair of 3-and-outs but the offense put up only 3 points before MSU got its ground game going in the 2nd quarter. Iowa similarly had 1st-quarter stumbles, but the M offense scored a TD on its opening drive then did nothing the rest of the half as Iowa began pulling away.

This continued throughout the conference season, except against Illinois or course.

Our Big Ten offensive player of the year will most likely throw fewer interceptions and fumble less, as he gains more experience and knowledge. Most (not all) of Michigan's QBs down through the years made fewer mistakes as they got older, so there's no reason to expect Denard won't.

The concerns I have aren't about individual improvement on mistake-making but unit-wide improvement -- specifically, the ability to play much less mistake-ridden football against the toughest teams.

I appreciate the research that the best posters here put together in diaries, such as yours. I was trying to be more playful than disrespecting in the title of my diary, and if that rubbed you the wrong way, apologies.

I stand by the point of my original post. That is, during those parts of the game during the Big Ten season when the contest was up in the air -- before either team began to pull away -- this Michigan offense, unfortunately, and surprisingly, was slightly less effective at scoring points than RichRod's first two Michigan teams. It moved the ball more, but then bogged down more for whatever reason, thus negating so many of those yards that look so impressive in the NCAA rankings and record books. This might have been what that idiot Beliema was getting at after the M-Wisc game.

I wish there more improvement in crunch-time scoring -- and I define crunch-time for the purpose of this research as "when the game is in doubt," not just at the end of a close game.  I wish the results were much better. Hell, several posters here -- including one mod -- know me, and know how much I want/wanted RR to succeed, and with this offense. MIstakes are doing him in, and they rise up in almost every Big Ten game he has ever coached. And they aren't limited to offense. For whatever reasons.

Well, as you say, there's nothing else to say. Cheers.

11/29/2010 - 7:00pm Let's keep it to the offense

I don't think we disagree on much about the defense or special teams.

I stick by my original point. The offense is much more talented this year, gained many more yards and by most statistical measures was far better than the 08 and 09 offenses -- or just about any others in M history, probably.

It just wasn't good at scoring in the toughest Big Ten games before falling behind by 3 scores. My research backs that up.And by that results-based criterion -- scoring being the only stat that truly matters -- there wasn't any improvement.

I don't imagine there are any M fans ready to start printing "WE GAINED MORE YARDS PER GAME THAN WISCONSIN AND OHIO STATE" or "WE COME BACK LIKE A SUMBITCH WHEN DOWN BY 20 POINTS" T-shirts.

I hope I'm wrong, but after 24 Big Ten games, the same success-killing mistakes infect this team. And they snowball. Usually didn't start happening until the 3rd quarters in the big games in his first two years. But this year, such were far more prevalent in the 1st and 2nd quarters.

The title of my original post was smart-ass, yes. The guts of it, no.


11/29/2010 - 6:46pm In the 1920s,

Pop Warner was tired of his teams with his razzle-dazzle single-wing offense losing to teams that played fundamentally sound football.

He actually lobbied for first downs to be incorporated into the scoring.

He was laughed out of the room by other coaches. Including Fielding Yost, who time and again watched teams with their flashier offenses gain more yards than his, only to lose after continually making drive-killing and ultimately game-killing mistakes, when his fundamentally sound and mistake-averse teams didn't.

If RR can get his offense to make a lot fewer mistakes across the board, not just fewer turnovers, then his offense indeed can be a monster like few others the game has known.

But in the five biggest Big Ten games of the season (MSU, Iowa, PSU, Wisc, OSU), the offense: scored a combined 5 TDs and 2 FGs, but had 10 punts, 3 INTs, 4 fumbles, 2 missed FGs and 2 drives that ended on downs. That's 5 TDs in 28 drives. Or a 0.18 TDs-per-drive percentage, which would rank in the low 20s among 32 NFL teams (according to October 2010 stats I saw earlier today somewhere).

11/29/2010 - 6:05pm Less than genuine with the data?


I love this offense when it works, let me say that. It is a thing of beauty. It just had big-time trouble working again this year when the game was on the line -- that is, in every important Big Ten game. Like last year. Like the year before. We all rightly chalked up the 08 shortcomings to extreme experience and talent (for the system) issues.

Not so much this year. Yes, Denard is a first-year starter. I get that. Shaw was a third-year starter who was replaced in several games by Vincent Smith, a first-year starter coming off knee surgery. I get that. But the OL and WRs are almost all veterans, or about as veteran as one can hope to have most years.

This year's offense in the Big Ten games should have scored more -- and a lot more -- than the 2008 team. It didn't. Mixed with a non-existing PK game, and a much worse defense, that was lethal.

Too many people see the POTENTIAL of the offense, or the impressive-but-too-late results vs Iowa, PSU and Wisconsin and then EXTRAPOLATE to next year, saying, wow, this offense is going to be killer. Just like Oregon's this year, etc. And if RR is retained, that will be my hope as well.

But to blindly extrapolate without examining the reasons for this year's offensive misfires is unrealistic.

I was trying to quantify just how poorly the offense performed scoring-results wise, compared to its two predecessors -- and was shocked at the result. This team desperately needed the offense to score much more in the first halves than the 08 team, not less.

If anyone has a better idea as to how to quantify in a more "honest" way as to why the offense fired so many blanks by the time we were three scores down in the second half to MSU, Iowa, Penn State, Wisconsin and Ohio State, well I'm all frickin' ears.

If it appeared I was being "less than genuine" with that data, that wasn't the intention.

I work in a results-based industry. Great intentions, great ideas and partially successful attempts at execution don't cut it. You did it or you didn't. You got the result or you didn't.

Similarly, I look at the offense this year in the big Big Ten games and I see a whole lot of partially  successful attempts at execution in the first half -- when the games were still largely in doubt. When a long drive bogs down at the 20, that's no better than a punt from your own 40 -- from a results-based viewpoint.

And a scoreboard viewpoint.


11/29/2010 - 4:44pm In fact...

touchdowns per drive, at least in the NFL, is the most trustworthy statistic for predicting victories.

I cannot find such stats in the NCAA.

Be my guest.

11/29/2010 - 4:42pm What I believe is...

... a team with so much more talent and experience than the 2008 offense should score more points. And the reason it doesn't is it turns it over way too much, or misfires on passes, or drops passes, or misses FGs, or doesn't have a trustworthy enough PK to attempt a FG.

Meantime, our defense is way worse, so by halftime of our most important Big Ten games this year, we were out of it or on the verge of being out of it.

In 2008, we were in every game at halftime. Every one. Biggest deficit by far was the Wisconsin game, which we came back and won.

Unless you can cite other games, the only one of 24 Big Ten games in which RR's MIchigan teams played four quarters of mostly mistake-free ball on offense and special teams, and were solid on D, was the win at Minnesota in 2008. 1 in 24.

11/14/2010 - 8:34am OT possessions skew the stats

I see your point, but most OT possessions consist of TDs or FG attempts.

As I said in the intro, this was to see what the UM defense was doing on all drives during the regular course of play.

You are right in that the defense by OT was spent, and allowed three ridiculously easy TDs, really. But Illinois' defense was more spent, and our TDs were even (um) ridiculouslier easy.

Hope that makes sense.

09/23/2010 - 12:40pm Good suggestion. Will check late tonight, but...

... no Bo offense ever averaged 500 yards a game. I think his 1976 team was the most prolific in terms of total yardage -- something like 440 per game, IIRC. But about 380 of that was on the ground!



09/23/2010 - 12:37pm You're right, but....

... Franklin broke his collarbone in the 73 OSU game on a dropback pass. Ditto Wangler.

Leach never missed a start in 47 games (Bo chose to start Mark Elzinga in Leach's only non-start).

My memory -- and my ample video-tape collection supports this -- is that Bo's QBs didn't get seriously hurt much, but when they did, it was on dropback passes, or flukey plays (eg, Harbaugh breaking his arm diving for a fumbled ball).

They also were expert at not taking direct hits -- something Denard has to learn. Leach always ducked or weaved or spun at just the right time.



09/02/2010 - 3:09pm Former never applies to MSU ... Latter always does


08/20/2010 - 2:14pm So we have to beat Tressel twice...

... to win a Big Ten championship.

That'll happen.

As for the rivalry, *see Nebraska-Oklahoma circa 1994-2010. 

All of you who wanted expansion, were excited about expansion, and looked forward to a conference championship game -- SHAME ON YOU.

The destruction of the importance of the M-OSU rivalry is EXACTLY what movitated the Barry Alvarezes and JoePas in the first goddamm place.

Who has the guts now to admit they were wrong? C'mawn? Fess up.

Some of us have been railing against this possibility for years, re what expansion would mean to Michigan.

The world has changed. Forever. Enjoy.

08/11/2010 - 9:57pm JT's work ethic...

He didn't pass the minimum Ohio high-school graduation test. Deduction: lazy student.

He came into camp not only late (because he was still trying to graduate high school and thus qualify) but out of shape. Deduction: lazy athlete.

Then you'd think he'd come back hungrier than ever, working hard all last fall and all off-season. He didn't. Deduction: still a lazy athlete.

What would Lloyd have done? What would Carroll or Meyer have done? My guess is they would have red-shirted him last fall, and jumped all over his ass for coming into camp this week out of shape. What would JT have then done?

Probably transfer.

Another thing to consider, as I pointed out earlier: We're all ballisticizing because he was a blue-chip recruit. But the second he arrives on campus, wasn't it speculated/deduced that he wasn't agile enough to be a premier CB, and wasn't fast enough to be a premier safety? So how is it, particularly, that he's a blue-chip recruit?

I suspect the fact he was a tweener DB, perhaps with a still-growing body, sacked his confidence when he saw he wasn't a dominant performer at either position. So he sulked, reverted to default lazy-ass, blamed it on the coaches, came to camp bloated, said he wanted out, and got a fast ticket out the door.

08/11/2010 - 1:18pm But that's my beef -- 5*

The Rivals and Scouts and other talent scouts should be able to prognosticate and extrapolate, should they not, when a player arrives on campus as a true frosh and already is too slow for safety and not agile enough for corner? 

These publications make a ton of money from info-thirsty college fans. You'd think they could make these diagnoses and downgrade the star ratings and hype accordingly.

Another, completely different example is Schilling. Guy was a 5* even though everyone knew he basically didn't know how to pass-block. Should a 5* be spectabular in everything, virtually ready to go? Only reason Schilling has played so much is because OL cupboard was so woeful going back to mid 2000s. But clearly he wasn't ready to play in 2007 at all (yet started almost every game), nor really even in 2008. 5 stars? C'mawn. I give him great credit now for his diligence, etc, and hope he has an All-American year, I really do. My beef isn't with him in this case, it's with these recruiting services that build up our hopes. And when they're dashed, a la today with JT, many are livid "because he was a five-star talent," etc.

Maybe he wasn't. Check -- clearly he wasn't. 

08/11/2010 - 1:04pm Michigan Cornerback Hating God more hateful than...

Michigan Safety Hating God.


08/08/2010 - 2:53pm ND in 2012: vs Mich (sep 22), vs MiamiFl in Chi, @ Okla, @ USC

Plus vs Navy in Dublin (TBC)

Miami just added in the past couple weeks.

Might UM and ND mutually agree to unplug for two games earlier than later? I believe Brandon in announcing the ND night game at Big House next year said there would be a two-year break in the M-ND series, I believe in '18-19.

But last I looked a few months ago, almost every traditional major power topping fans' polls is locked up in one or both years: 

2018 pairings: Tenn-OSU; Ark-TA&M, Okla-LSU, USC-Tex.

2019 pairings: Tenn-OSU; Ark-TA&M, Okla-LSU. (USC-Tex first game of HAH in '17)

(BTW: Neither Fla nor FSU is in the market to add yet another dfficult non-conf game, I believe I read somewhere, so don't suggest either of them.)

Is it too much of a coincidence that both M and ND are adding another likely difficult opponent to their respective '12 schedules, weeks apart? And why would Brandon load up the '12 schedule just a few weeks before finding out how difficult the '12 conference slate might be? Who knows if M will be playing OSU, Neb, PSU, Wisc, Iowa that year?

Maybe the M-ND break is coming earlier than anyone knows. Because this latest M-ND uninterrupted streak of games began at ND Stadium in 2002, one would think the next break would come after a game in Ann Arbor ('11).

Or not. Either way, interesting......

08/08/2010 - 11:31am Office politics (ie, the real reasons things happen)

If anyone ever tried to figure out the real reasons people in the offices I've worked in do the things they do, or don't do, you're not going to find them all in official emails sent up the chain or down.

I'd suggest this. Find out who Labadie was close with in the department outside of those official chains, and search THOSE emails. eg, if he was tight with someone on, say, the equipment staff, or whatever.

We're all more likely to 'spill it all' -- whining, spilling, etc -- to those outside those official chains of command.

And if any of his or anyone else's intention was to set anybody up, well, they'd just be plain stupid to have written anything like that in an office email. They are all reminded regularly, I'm sure, that their emails are all FOIA subjectable, so I doubt any of that would ever turn up in a search.

At least not between the principals.

Re Rich Rod and signing the UM CARA forms -- why would UM make him or any other head coach responsible for signing off-season forms when they're not supposed to be observing any of their hours, countable or otherwise? Doesn't make sense.



07/26/2010 - 6:13pm It was my first game...

Can you imagine being 14 years old and THAT being your first trip to the Big House? It was for me.

There I sat, disconsolate, right before the last play -- feeling I was the jinx of Michigan football.

Then ... pandemonium. Eurphoria. I remember people's jaws wide open -- they just couldn't believe that a Bo team could complete such a long bomb on the last play of a game to win it. And, probably, couldn't believe that AC kept his balance.

Was in Section 36 or 37, up high. AC really nearly went down on his turn upfield.

My Dad, bless him, knew I was ruined just before that play and never once tried to nudge me out before the very last second ticked off the clock. I think he was more happy than me that my first game was so monumental.

Was the game pedestrian. Boring? Maybe. Not for me on my first visit, at age 14.

Five things stick out for me:

1.  It was the 100th anniversary of Michigan football. Every game there was something to commemorate it, but that one was Homecoming. So. Every single living Michigan All-American -- back to Ernie Vick from the early '20s -- who could make it was there that day. Dozens were all paraded out at halftime. Including the most recent one, my idol Rick Leach. Also Harmon, Chappuis, all three Wisterts. Plus Crisler, Oosterbaan were in attendance.... all those Michigan icons. And they all witnessed that play, on the 100th anniversary of Michigan football. The combined magic....

2. Indiana needed a bomb in the waning minute or two, down 21-14, and amazingly got it. Bo always played pass prevent in those days, but it wasn't good enough. Long pass from IU QB Tim Clifford down to about the 5 set up the tying score. Place was SILENT.

3. Huge cheer went up when QB John Wangler went in for an injured, and struggling, BJ Dickey earlier in the second half. Dickey never started another game. Wangler had passed UM right down the field to set up the eventual blocked FG vs ND in Week 2, so I inferred from that cheer that they wanted to see more of him after that game but didn't till then. Ahhhhh, the backup QB at Michigan!

4. Anthony Carter the next day on Michigan Replay was interviewed afterward in his almost unintelligible Florida drawl, saying something like, "All the players kept jumping on me, and I said, 'I can't bree! I can't bree!'" That was a catchphrase for my buddy and I for years after that. "I can't bree!! I can't bree!"

5. Urging my Dad and brother back to our car as quickly as possible afterward, so I could hear Ufer's call of the last play when, after the regular broadcast ended, I knew they always then played the highlights off Ufer's calls. I still tear up when I hear it. Moreso than ever now at age 45.

What a day. What an experience.

GOD, I love being in that stadium during such seminal moments, like ND last year. As a kid and young man, I just went, as Ufer said, "Stark raving bananas!!" Now I weep. 

07/15/2010 - 1:37pm We lost to Toledo by 33-10?

Must have forgotten that the tying FG attempt late was a 23-pointer.

02/25/2009 - 8:01pm conf games per team used to vary

Wasn't just in '81 and '82, either.

Just going backward from there:

In not only '78 but also in '77, '72 and '71 (the year the eight-game conf schedule began), there were two teams that played nine conf games while the rest played eight.

From '65 to '70 inclusive, every conf team played seven games. (with three nonconfs in a 10-game season limit)

From '61 to '64, every conf team played seven games except Indiana and Iowa, which played only six.

In 1960, MSU played only five, Wisconsin seven, and everybody else six whilst Indiana was on probation.

In the late '40s and '50s, every year there were some teams that played seven conf games, others six, or even five on occasion.

In the '30s, five or six conf games per team.

Before that, even more disparity.

BOTTOM LINE: Only since 1985 has there been a uniform eight-game conf schedule for all conference teams.

02/24/2009 - 10:16pm Re 8 vs 9 conf games

In the early '80s, Ohio State one year played only seven conference games, and finished 6-1, including a win over Michigan. It was in 1982.

But Michigan played eight conference games, losing only to Ohio State in the finale, 24-14.

So Michigan finished 7-1, Ohio State 6-1 in the Big Ten.

Ohio State beat UM but Michigan went to the Rose Bowl, only because Ohio State and some other lame-butt conference team didn't play each other that year. Nice for us, not for Bucks. And almost no one remembers it.

Who wants that again?

Nine conf games a year is RIFE with other awful issues. Not the least of which is how, with an odd numbers of teams (11), do you ensure there is a fair alernating of home-road conference schedules for all teams (5-4 one year, 4-5 the next, and so on)? My head hurts just thinking about it all.

Keep it the way it is. It's the only solution.

Twelve teams in Big Ten is NOT the solution -- unless someone can satisfactorily answer how UM-OSU does NOT get reduced to either Texas-Oklahoma (big annual game between division rivals played early in the year), or Nebraska-Oklahoma (former big rivals now in different divisions, who play only occasionally mid-season and rarely in conf title game).