Friday, November 17, 2006

Ohio State vs. Michigan Mania:
The Impact of Bo's Death

Update: Obviously, the death of Michigan icon Bo Schembechler spirals the Michigan-Ohio St game into uncertainty and speculation, two things that the online sports world inhales and exhales. What's your take? Many of you have already started commenting. Can you see it impacting the game's result, given that it's in Columbus, not Ann Arbor? There's a lot more to discuss here. Rather than create a new post, let's just vault off the comments section on this post.

Ohio St vs. Michigan Mania, Cont'd: I don't really care about their rivalry. Like most rivalry games, I appreciate the depth and history of mutual loathing, but I'm a fan of neither team, so it's hard to get TOO worked up. Not when the rest of us have our own rivalries to worry about. If you're an OSU or Michigan fan, the rest of us salute your bitter enmity.

However: I care a TON about the consequences of this particular game: A one-game playoff to determine not just (at least) one half of the national game, but to find the team that will be favored to win it all.

It could be OSU-Michigan, it could be Little Sisters of the Poor vs. South Cracker State: As long as it's 1 vs. 2 in the final game of the season for each, it's so huge as to arguably earn the title "Game of the Century." (Uh, make that "Regular-Season Game of the Century.")

In our BCS-formulaic world, this is as close as we'll get to a real playoff. Come on: It IS a playoff game, if not actually officially sanctioned by semantics.

That's why it would be so bad for college football if the loser of this game could simply sit back, wait idly for the other teams in the Top 5 to lose over the next two weeks and back their way into the national-title game.

The beauty of this OSU-Michigan game is that we can determine – head-to-head, on the field – which of the two deserves to play for the national title game. One of these teams can EARN it. To reward the loser with a second chance makes a mockery of every fan like me who considers this game a playoff.

In one-and-done playoff systems, there are no second chances.

Pick: Ohio State.

-- D.S.


john (east lansing, mi) said...

I'm against a rematch.

But, I still want to point out that the problem with your post is, neither the NCAA nor the BCS have specifically promised a playoff. Michigan and OSU haven't... nobody has.

So, to say the idea makes a mockery of fans expecting this playoff... is actually just a weird statement, to me. In fact, the way you loaded that paragraph and based it on a concept championed almost solely by you... almost makes a mockery of itself.

Not that I'm saying your basic plan is wrong; max(Michigan, OSU) certainly ought to play some team from some other conference, which they haven't played before (I mean, I'll allow ND getting back in, but what would it prove if a Big Ten team beat ND again? Nothing new, is what.).

But, if so happens that the other teams in college football just start losing for the next 2 weeks... what is one to do? 1-loss WVU or Rutgers in the NC game would be a full traveshamockery. Boise State should never get rewarded that much for their ridiculous schedule. Ever. It's quite possible that everybody else ends up with 2 losses. I don't want that, but I'm wondering what you think the BCS could possibly do, except set up the rematch.

Anonymous said...

Is it any more fair for USC to sit idly by and supplant the loser of the game, even though they have a loss to Oregon State, a team thoroughly inferior to Michigan or OSU.

It's not that I'm making a case for USC, it's just that every team will have some similar grievance. All the more reason for some real frig durn playoffs. Oh that's right, I used "frig durn."

CMFost said...

"Does a 2-loss USC/ND/SEC team deserve a shot over a 1-loss Michigan/OSU team? Nope. A 1 loss or even a 0 loss Big East team doesn't really deserve a shot either."

Can not disagree with you more? If everyone has 2 loses and it is done to a 1 loss Michigan vs an Unbeaten Rutgers then Rutgers has earned the right to play in the national title games.

Prediction - Ohio State 17 Michigan 14

john (east lansing, mi) said...

Oh, here's the crazy thing I wanted to say, that will probably get people involved in tizzies -

If Michigan played WVU, and I were coaching (I say that just because of Lloyd's conservative don't-be-a-dick style, and my annoyance with the Big East), it would probably end up being the first thousand-point victory in the history of football, and especially bowl games.

Michigan would run over, throw over, and generally have its way with WVU's defense, while the M D would pick up 20 or 30 fumbles, easily.

Until now, I hadn't even thought about this when I looked at Ivan Maisel's Rose Bowl projection (WVU v. UM), but, seriously, these teams match up more unevenly than any other BCS contenders I can think of ever.

john (east lansing, mi) said...

ndyanks -

a) you've been solid lately, but your first post didn't make any sense in any language I've read before.

2) it shouldn't be too tough to decide. We've got this whole system, see.
But, seriously - the computers have their numbers, and the polls will adjust by moving down losers (that's all the polls know how to do, and sometimes they can't even do that, *cough* informationally retarded AP voter *cough cough*).
So assume the polls stay the same, minus losers, and the computers operate as programmed.

Except for the games, everything is deterministic.

john (east lansing, mi) said...

I didn't say undefeated Rutgers wouldn't deserve a shot, even though your Top Ten claims for UL and WVU are based on, when you think about it, losing only to each other+Rutgers, the only good teams they will have played.

I do think Rutgers would be doomed against the Big Ten's best this year, but I think it's absolutely correct to let them play to see how it shakes out.

Unfortunately for everyone, I've finished arguing with myself and made up my mind... West Virginia is gonna beat Rutgers. I don't like West Virginia, and I do like Rutgers. But this is gonna happen.

I wish Rutgers could win the conference, but I know that it's impossible with a loss to WVU, just because of WVU's fucking preseason ranking (specifically, as opposed to UL's and Rutgers's). What bullshit.

Brian in Oxford said...

Remember, it's not like Ali ONLY fought Frazier, even if he was #2. Worthy challengers step up to fight the champ, even if sometimes you think they're #4 or #6 in the rankings. And if Leon Spinks wins, he's the champ.

aikehara said...

I seriously doubt that Michigan could score a thousand points in a game, let alone win by such a figure, even if John was their coach. The fact of the matter is that they would have to score more than two touchdowns a minute for the entire game just to reach 1,000. Given the time constraints, Michigan wouldn't be able to put up that amount against a high school team. I'm certainly no fan of WVU or the Big East, but I don't see why some of you feel the need to bash them simply because they play in a conference that you feel is inferior to the one your team happens to play in. I could be wrong, but I don't think that the current rules disqualify teams that don't play in a "major" conference. It makes more sense to settle these kinds of issues on the field, anyway (and they most likely will be, in the next month and a half).

Christian Thoma said...

Some sad news the day before the game:


'Former Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler collapsed Friday during the taping of a television show and was taken by ambulance to an area hospital.

The coaching legend fell ill at the studios at WXYZ-TV in Southfield, the station said. Schembechler also was hospitalized Oct. 20 after falling ill at the same location.

Southfield police spokesman John Harris said he could not provide specific medical information, but said: "I don't think it was good."'

Regardless of what happens between now and then, I hope the two teams (Bo was an assistant at OSU) take the time to honor a coaching legend tomorrow.

aikehara said...


It is? Really? I was given the impression that the only "Major" conference that exists is the one that Ohio State and Michigan play in...

john (east lansing, mi) said...

nyc-steelers -

Um, I mean, Hill from Wisconsin is #5 in rushing, having played a schedule composed mostly of real teams.

Until the Rutgers game, I'm refusing to believe that Slaton & White, plus the WVU line, have any ability to create a real ground game against a real defensive front.

And I don't know if there's anybody on the continent who could approach West Virginia's fumbling game.

john (east lansing, mi) said...

Oh my god, Bo's gone.

Anonymous said...

Poor Bo.

Now ... I would take those 7 points.

Brian in Oxford said... if the emotions weren't going to be psychotically high already.

Brian in Oxford said... if the emotions weren't going to be psychotically high already.

Unknown said...

Cradle of Coaches loses another one.

RIP Coach

TBender said...


Puts everything back into perspective now...


Dr. Zoom said...

I just read Breaking News on that Bo Schembechler has passed away. Such sad news, and such creepy timing. He will be missed.

Big D said...

Tough way to go into what was already going to be an emotionally charged game.

And I agree 100% with chrth, there needs to be some type of moment of silence, or full-fledged tribute to Bo before the game.

Gonna put a whole new perspetive on this Saturday, fellas.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully Bo and Woody are watching the game together.

Big D said...

There are two ways to look at the emotional impact of Bo's passing on the teams for this game.

One the one hand, Bo was the unquestioned face of Michigan Football for over twenty years. Losing him could prove to be the emotional boost Michigan needs to get over the top and take down Ohio State. And, for what it's worth, if this game were being played in The Big House, the outcome would now be a foregone conclusion.

The other possibility is that the emotions act as a burden, much like they did for the Celtics on opening night this season just after the death of Red Auerbach. Now, admittedly, the Celtics are a pretty lousy team, and there was about a 75% shot that they were going to lose that game with or without Red being gone. But the extra added pressure of "Win it for Red" just swept their legs out from underneath them.

The same thing could easily happen to Michigan tomorrow, so don't go handing them the win immediately. We should know after the first quarter - if they're flying around looking to kill someone on defense (poor choice of words, sorry), then they're extra-amped for the game. But if they're being pushed all around the field, allowing big play after big play, and not executing the most basic plays on offense, they're in trouble.

Sorry, I rambled a little bit there. We'll call it my seven cents for the day.

john (east lansing, mi) said...

I sincerely hope the Dead Schembechlers are handling this like humans today.

NA said...

Maybe this is cold... But you got ot be impressed with Bo, he still finds a way to inspire the team before a 1 vs. 2 matchup with Ohio St. Lets see Woody Hayes top that

john (east lansing, mi) said...

Indeed, the Dead Schembechlers are being pretty politic about this... a little too politic for my taste, actually, since they've created some revisionist website history.

You can't escape Google's Cache, TDS.

That said, I think they're right about Bo getting it, as much as one can.

Unknown said...

I don't think this will have as much of an impact on the Michigan players as one would think. More on the fans...and on Lloyd Carr.

I think this will do the exact opposite of a blowout...This just turned into a 'field goal with :02 seconds' type of game.
Michigan will be sharp. But this has no effect on Ohio State, who will be equally sharp.

Jen said...

RIP, Bo.

I don't think this will have an effect on tomorrow's game whatsoever.


Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice that the A-freakin'-P article states that Hayes "prevailed" in the ten-year war with Bo, 5-4-1? It's the other way around. Arrrgh!

And since it's an AP article, 99% of all papers that cover this story tomorrow will spread that misinformation. That's egregious.

Asteroid said...

Having the loser back in the national game would be a disgrace.. look how well that worked for Nebraska in 2002..

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. I went to ESPN and SI and assumed if those two don't fact-check sports numbers, surely no one else will. Even the Detroit News got it wrong. I'm glad to hear that at least one news agency has it right, and my faith in CNN is renewed.

Anonymous said...

Now that I went to the CNN site, it links *to* SI, which means they corrected it. Good for them.

Christian Thoma said...

What's everyone talking about? UM has never beaten OSU, so Woody's undefeated vs Bo.

(Dead Schembechlers reference)

Anonymous said...

Now on

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SF said...

Saddest. Day. Ever.

Biggest. Game. Ever.

Go. Blue. RIP BO.

Anonymous said...

so is...dead?

The irony makes my head a-splode!

Steve said...

People die every day, do we really have to get worked up 365 days a year about someone dying? People don't get worked up over a random person dying but they do over a celebrity, that's bogus.

Anonymous said...

People get worked up over someone they care about dying. You clearly don't care about him, so you shouldn't get worked up. Have I adequately explained the nature of human emotion to you?

I dare you to say this to a coworker that just lost an aunt. Dare you.

Steve said...

My point is that Bo is not any more special than anyone else in the world. I'm sure he was a good enough guy, but good people die every day, so to me Bo in particular dying in comparison to anyone else is not a big deal.

Anonymous said...

I've come across people like you, Steve, and I must say that I feel sorry for you. If you can't understand why someone like Bo Schembechler was loved and respected by many, and will be missed, there is nothing any of us can say that will change your mind. I have no ties to Michigan, but I can understand the pain of their fans and those who appreciate the program's history.

In other news, the Dead Schembechler's myspace page is still active and they have decided to end their run and give all proceeds from tonight's show to charity. Very gracious of them, methinks.

Anonymous said...

If you said what you said in back-country Mongolia, I'm sure everyone around you would nod approvingly. The factor you overlooked is that there are people that care about the state of Michigan, the University of Michigan, Michigan football, Big Ten football, and a bunch of other things that cannot help but be touched by Bo's life's work in some way or another. Those people have every right to care about him, even if they never met him. This is made easier by the seeming fact that he was an all-around really nice guy.

I hear the gist of what you're saying, and there is a kernel of truth there. Where you trail off into lunacy is where you suggest that basically, there isn't enough time and energy to care about everyone so you shouldn't care about anyone.

Anonymous said...

BTW: statement about Mongolia was regarding the fact that no one knows him there, not about there value system or anything.

Steve said...

Actually Eric, you do more or less understand what I was trying to say. I have a little bit of difficulty in saying what I mean without being crass is all. It's not so much not caring about Bo as it is the fact people seem to have this idea that we should care more about a celebrity death than my neighbor down the street who I don't really even know. I also personally don't believe people truly 'die' so that also affects my belief system.

Badass Of The Year said...

I don't think you have to be a Big 10 person to care about the passing of a man like Bo. Just like you don't have to be a Big 10 person to watch a the damn good football game we are about to see. We all have our legends/heroes/icons and when one of them is lost it is a sad day.

And I watched/cared about college football when I was 13, but maybe that's just my Texas upbringing.