Thursday, December 22, 2005

Big Ten Self Help

First off, let me say that we are due to leave Iraq for Kuwait later on today and I do not know how much access I will have to a computer and the internet for the purposes of updating this blog. I am sure I will be able to check it from time to time over the next week, but no guarantees on articles for a couple of days. Secondly, thanks to Goldtimer for promoting this site again on Wreck Ramblin. I am sure you already check out his site - it is the place to find news about Georgia Tech Athletics from across Georgia and the rest of the country. Goldtimer, thanks for all your help in getting a new thing like this blog rolling. Lastly, and most importantly, congratulations are in order for YBW guest columnist Dr. Z, or CPT Mark Zais. This West Point Engineer has finally seen the light and is coming to Georgia Tech next year as a graduate student in Operations Research. I will make sure he is brought up to speed (songs, traditions, history) so there is no lag time in his becoming a true fan on the Flats. To celebrate this occasion, I thought it only fitting that he be allowed to write the last post on this blog before we leave Iraq. Welcome home, sir. -yb

Big Ten Self Help

I'll start off by acknowledging that I am an SEC fan and consequently biased against the Big Ten (don't you mean Eleven?). Nevertheless, I feel it is my duty as a Yellowblazer columnist to point out all inadequacies in the college football system and address obvious issues of competitive imbalance. The Big Ten's ability to dodge competitive bowl matchups while skating on soft schedules is unprecedented. Despite this edge, they have still managed to be recently overtaken by the ACC as one of the top two football conferences, primarily due to a lack of vision. We felt the pain of losing a powerful enemy and antagonist when the Soviet Union collapsed; let's not let it happen to the Big Ten also. I will use this forum to highlight some of the flaws. I am here to help, so all constructive criticism will be accompanied by viable solutions to make it once again as close to a legitimate conference as possible.

The Big Eleven. The name of the conference itself is embarrassing and a discredit to academic merit of many of the participating institutions. Arguably, The Big Ten has more Engineering programs ranked in the top twenty than any other conference. How do you flaunt a blatant error in arithmetic and deem it acceptable? There are eleven participating schools in your athletic conference! From here on out, I will make the obvious correction and refer to the conference as The Big Eleven.

The Rose Bowl. Can we please stop calling it "the granddaddy of them all"? First of all, the word "granddaddy" signifies weakness. It's like calling your father "pappy". You should be beaten and then forced to chop wood until you start saying "dad" or "old man". I get that the Rose Bowl is the oldest bowl game around, but tradition is regional. Don't try to tell me which bowl game is more important to me. I grew up watching the SEC and my family is from the South. Therefore, when someone talks about the pinnacle of bowl games, I immediately think of the Sugar Bowl. On New Years Day (before all the bowls where spread out over three weeks) my family used to stack three televisions in the living room so that we could view multiple games at once. The Rose Bowl was the one that ended up muted on the small TV. Keith Jackson is also annoying (we'll get back to him though).

Most importantly though, the only good thing that ever came out of the BCS was that it forced the Rose Bowl to divert from its annual Big Eleven - PAC 10 match-up. Until the BCS, the Rose Bowl was just a place for the Big Eleven champion to go hide out and play weak a second-tier PAC 10 team. Many a Big Eleven champ earned recognition or even a national championship by going undefeated and heading out to Pasadena to stamp its place in history by beating a double-digit ranked PAC-10 team with zero defense. Unfortunately, Penn State fans are still whining about the one time that the AP voters actually made a stand and called them out. You might remember in 1994 when #1 ranked Nebraska defaulted to playing #3 Miami in the Orange Bowl. Why not play the #2 team? Well, that's because #2 Penn State was guaranteed a game in the Rose Bowl against the #12 ranked Oregon Ducks (there's big money in that Rose Bowl contract). After both Nebraska and Penn State won, the Nittany Lions fans actually had the nerve to cry foul when the pollsters voted Nebraska outright national champions. What's the lesson in all this? When you prostitute your conference to big money and "tradition" rather than competitive match-ups, you get what you ask for.

Michigan vs. Ohio State. This is another issue where my regional upbringing kicks in. I don't understand this rivalry. I understand Auburn-Alabama, Clemson-USC (the other one), Florida State-Miami, Ole Miss-Mississippi State, and even Oregon-Oregon State. But I don't understand this one, especially when mentioned in the same breath as the words "all-time rivalries". Youth provides the most clarity on many issues, and kids are often the ones who ask the most simple, yet clear, questions. I still remember watching football as a kid and hearing the announcers talk about the big rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State. I turned to my father and asked, "Why isn't Michigan's biggest rival Michigan State?" The question was so simple, but the answer just wasn't there.

The MetroDome. Nothing says college football like a dome, astro-turf, and half-capacity seating. The University of Minnesota's stadium is a disgrace to all that is pure and traditional about collegiate sports. I've never been to a game there, but I wouldn't be surprised if they piped in canned music like "Who Let the Dogs Out" and "We Will Rock You" between plays. This abortion of a stadium makes Boise's blue field feel like a tribute to the days of Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis. Minnesota, get some grass and play in the snow. You chose to live in that icebox, now deal with it.

Keith Jackson. Keith, when are you going to retire, again? I know the first swan song was a boost to your ego, but you are only supposed to do it once. Your bias towards PAC-10 and Big Eleven football is unmatched, but your ability to act like the SEC and ACC don't even exist is legendary. Every time I hear your bubbling uncontained excitement as Michigan or USC scores a touchdown, I have to suppress an unconscious desire for the Rose Bowl to be interrupted by an earthquake. You make me a worse person for watching you; leave so I can get better.

Pam Ward. Whose idea was it to use a female commentator for college football? Nothing against Pam personally, but Big Ten football at noon on ESPN2 is absolutely unwatchable. There is something about hearing a woman call play-by-play that causes the voice in the back of my head to continuously respond with "How would you know, did you ever play ball?!" There is no credibility to her play-by-play and I don't need someone to tell me that #34 ran for 3 yards up the middle. I can see that, give me some insight! Even if USC and Texas were playing the national championship game on ESPN2, Pam Ward would make it unwatchable.

Before the anti-chauvinists fire back, I am willing to make a compromise. I agree that women are good for sports and there are even places that men should not be. Much like women shouldn't announce football telecasts, men should not coach women's basketball. There is something seedy, perverted and slightly suspicious about a man who is content to settle for women's basketball as the pinnacle of his coaching career (yeah, I'm looking at you Geno Auriemma).

Many Big Eleven fans will undoubtedly respond with the excuse that they didn't pick the announcers on ESPN2. That's true, but I have yet to hear about a single Big Eleven fan that is up in arms about it. Do think that fans of Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, or Ole Miss would settle for it? I think not. In the SEC, we have to much chauvinistic pride to let it happen.

Conference Championship. If the Big Eleven doesn't change anything, it needs to fix this atrocity. The conference needs another team and a championship game like A.J. Hawk needs a haircut, badly. All the other legitimate conferences have expanded to twelve teams and added a championship game. The importance of this game is not just money, it's to ensure that the top two teams in the conference are forced to meet. I'm tired of seeing an SEC, Big 12, or ACC team get punished for going undefeated in the regular season and tripping up in the conference championship game against a team they have already defeated, while the top Big Eleven team play eleven games and doesn't even play the second best team in their conference.

Here's a hypothetical scenario (which has happened before) for you to chew on to show you the inequity. LSU finishes the regular season 11-0 and happens to defeat Georgia during one of its non-divisional games. Georgia goes on to finish the regular season 10-1 and makes it to the SEC championship game. Now, LSU is forced to beat the second best team in their conference twice in order to even be considered, and most likely overlooked, for the BCS championship game. You might say, "why did they set themselves up for failure by using this system?" Because the alternative is worse.

What can happen in the Big Eleven, and happened a few years ago, is this. Iowa and Wisconsin both finish the regular season 10-1, but the two teams never play each other and divert to a tiebreaker system. The best Big Eleven team never even plays the second best Big Eleven team! Both teams advance to the BCS with sparkling 10-1 records and bypass either both SEC teams (if Georgia beat LSU on the second try) or at least one SEC team (should Georgia fall to 10-2 after losing to the same #1 team twice). It is no longer debatable which system is best. The fact is that all the other major conferences (PAC-10's major status being arguable) have moved to twelve teams and included a championship game. It's time for the Big Eleven to turn in the leather helmets and enter the modern football world.

- Dr. Z (soon to be a Ramblin Wreck from Georgia Tech and a hell of an Engineer)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a pleasure to do what little I can to help your blog get off the ground, Sir. And THANK YOU for serving while most of us take it easy over here in the States. Stay safe.


12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

time in arizona

3:36 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home