Friday, December 22, 2006

Piling on

I know I've beaten this issue into the ground, but in the absence of anything better to write about I wanted to go back and analyze one of the arguments that proponents of Michigan for the BCS Championship made. The funny thing is that in reading the Michigan point of view, they are completely convinced that they have logic on their side.

The argument I want to specifically challenge here is that "Michigan should not be punished because they don't have a conference championship game in the Big 10 and because the Big 10 doesn't play games on or after Thanksgiving weekend."

Seems simple enough but this argument has some major flaws in it. The first is that it paints Michigan as a helpless victim of circumstance when, in fact, Michigan is a member of the Big 10 and can, enlisting the help of other conference members, change the conference's rules.

The SEC was the first conference to add a championship (1992). Now the the Big 12 and the ACC also have them. It wouldn't take Nostradamus to predict that, in a world with several conferences conducting championship games and others conducting rivalry games on or after Thanksgiving weekend, eventually these policies would hurt a Big 10 school's chances for a "National Title" down the line, especially in the "polls and bowls" system we have today.

I could take the converse of the argument and say why should Florida be punished for having meaningful games to play while Michigan was already done for the season? How can you expect the judges (in this case the pollsters and the computers) to make their judgments before all the evidence is in?

It's not a new idea that a late loss is worse than an early loss. Given that fact, Michigan has only itself to blame for playing their arch rival in the last week of their season. I understand tradition and so forth, but if you value tradition over pragmatism then you can't reserve the right to complain when your tradition doesn't conform to the rest of the country's reality.


Mergz said...

I have heard this ridiculous argument about not "punishing” Michigan because they didn’t play games in late November – early December.

Besides the points Henry makes, I would add this – how could you be expected to judge the “body of work” of Florida BEFORE IT WAS DONE?

Michigan played its 12th and final game on November 18. Why the Big Ten choose to end it’s schedule in mid-November is anyone’s guess, but Florida still had 2 games left to play.

What Michigan, and Lloyd Carr, were saying in essence was "don’t judge Florida on their entire season – judge them on the 11 games they have played."

How exactly, does that make sense? It is not implausible that once the voters saw Florida’s entire body of work, they judged it superior to Michigan’s?

The Big Ten might want to try playing past mid-November if this is really a concern. Virtually every other conference does.

Anonymous said...

Instigator here,

I believe that, under NCAA rules, a conference must have 12 teams to establish a championship game. The Big 10 (which amusingly has eleven teams) would first need to add another team before they could consider a championship game. Notre Dame would be the obvious choice but they seem to think they are a conference all by themselves.

Henry Gomez said...


Yes that's true but my point remains. It's been 14 years since the SEC added a CG and other conferences have followed suit. There plenty of teams other than ND that could come into the Big 10. How about Boise St. or Iowa State? The fact is they have dragged their feet and thus the Big 10 is in the situation that it's in. Another problem I didn't even address is that the Big 10 often has ties for its confence title. Why fans of those schools would accept this in this day and age is beyond me.