Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Spinning Our Wheels

It's a strange time of year around here at the HSR, as we're still in the thick of the college football season's endgame, but Michigan's been done for about ten days now, so I'm watching these other games and just trying to make sense of it all. And I have come to one strong conclusion:

No one has no way of knowing who is more deserving of being in the BCS Championship Game to face Ohio State.

People may claim they know, people can make strong arguments for one team, or another, or a third, and you can listen to the evidence and say, "Yeah, that makes sense!" Then someone counterpoints it and you go "Wait, that makes sense too!"

(For a beautiful example of this, please see The Whole Picture entry at MGoBlog. Seriously, we appreciate Brian et al for all of the efforts. It scares us, but still, we love it.)

I have heard the following compelling arguments either in writing or on the air: 

USC played the hardest schedule in the country...
...but USC's loss was not to SEC West winner Arkansas or Big XII North champion Nebraska, but to 8-4 Oregon State, who was smoked by Boise State 42-14.

Michigan has the "Best Loss", by three points to #1 Ohio State, at Ohio State, in the dark, wearing sunglasses...
...but Michigan nearly lost to Ball State at home and that three point loss to tOSU was not a close three point loss.
(Real quick on this, I don't buy the "almost lost to Ball State" argument. Michigan didn't win pretty in that one, but you know, they did win by eight and all.)

Florida (provided they beat Arkansas in the SEC title game) played in the hardest conference in football and deserves their shot for that...
...but not for the fact that they scheduled Division I-AA Western Carolina, and UCF (which I believe is a show on Spike). I will not go after Florida for Florida State being down this year, that's a weak argument.
(Florida is hurt by the "style points" notion, in that they have a pair of one point wins at Neyland and at home in "Return of the Spurrier", but there is a difference between winning and escaping.)
There are dozens of points like this and I could go on and on, but well, honestly, I have neither the time nor the inclination to do so...

When you set everything aside, I'll go back to Brian's point at the end:

"USC's tiebreaker is Arkansas and Nebraska versus our Vanderbilt, Central Michigan, and Ball State. They took on two above-average BCS teams. We took on the worst team in the SEC and two MAC teams, though one of them happens to be okay this year. Set aside the Michigan fandom and look at the big picture: if USC has this season and does not make the NC game, no one will ever schedule anyone again. It's time to take the bullet."

This is ironic, but this is where Michigan Stadium hurts Michigan. Because of the scope of Michigan's gate receipts, it is unlikely that Michigan will make a larger reach than our traditional MACrifices (TM University of Pittsburgh) and occasional random Rice/Vanderbilt/etc. I have believe that Michigan should aim for a Georgia Tech, a Missouri, or head back out to the coast (which, OK, we're playing Oregon next year, but we're also playing Eastern Michigan as "Opponent as Yet to Be Named")

But there's one other thing I have said from the start:
"This may surprise some, but I am not in favor of a rematch between Michigan and Ohio State, largely because something would feel incomplete about Michigan getting to call itself national champion because it beat Ohio State last. Granted, it would be a neutral site game, but if the roles were reversed and Michigan had won by a small margin at home, I would be upset if tOSU got to claim the crystal ball because they won last."

At the end of the whole conversation, it comes back to one critical thing:

No one has no way of knowing who is more deserving of being in the BCS Championship Game to face Ohio State. They may think they know, they may believe they know, but they cannot actually know, because there is no way to make that case in a compelling fashion that is absolutely certain.

To close, I turn to the wisdom of Michigan alumnus, Dr. Gregory House:

"I'm sure this goes against everything you've been taught, but right and wrong do exist. Just because you don't know what the right answer is - maybe there's even no way you could know what the right answer is - doesn't make your answer right or even okay. It's much simpler than that. It's just plain wrong."
(P.S.: As I mentioned on Deadspin yesterday:
"I won't push for a title game rematch between Michigan and Ohio State as long as the Rose Bowl people don't give us a Michigan/Notre Dame rematch in Pasadena. Playing Notre Dame three times in 53 weeks would get my bile up in an uncomfortable spot in my throat. Michigan/LSU could be intriguing, but who knows???")

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Either way, with whoever goes, it exposes the flaws in the system. If Michigan had lost to OSU in week 3 and delivered the BEAT DOWN to Notre Dame on 11/18, we'd be an undisputed #2.

So... Go Bruins. I was cheering for them all along anyway. I'll be cold and in the ground before I think positively about Notre Dame.

(p.s.: my attempts to contribute to this blog aren't allowed yet, as it's not possible to join a team blog with one that's merged with the Google beta blogger thing.)