Sunday, September 05, 2010

Michigan-Ohio State TWICE In Football? Never!

Some things are simply meant to be done once per year.

Thanksgiving. Christmas. Cleaning out the garage. Flossing.

And Michigan playing Ohio State in football.

What’s this I hear about the Big Ten/Twelve?

What’s this I hear that thanks to the new divisional alignment, Michigan and Ohio State have been separated, playing in two different divisions? What’s this I hear that because of this heresy, Michigan and Ohio State may sometimes play twice—once at the end of the year, as usual, and again the following week in the Big Ten/Twelve Championship Game?

U-M/OSU, Part II—after a one-week intermission?

Say it ain’t so, Jim!

Jim is Jim Delany, the commissioner of the Big Ten/Twelve. He’s the screwball who is presiding over this trampling of tradition.

Delany says he was afraid that, by keeping Michigan and Ohio State in the same division, the two schools would never get a chance to play for the conference championship.

Two words for you, Jim.

OK, I can’t use those two, so I’ll use these: WHO CARES?

Let’s get something straight about Wolverines and Buckeyes clashing on a gridiron.

It’s almost less about winning than it is about peeing in the other team’s Wheaties.

In Michigan-Ohio State, the loser feels worse than the winner feels good. For 364 days, the losing team has its insides gnarled. It’s 51 weeks and six days of cloudy skies and wind and rain. Your team loses and it’ll be a year, at least, until you’re able to crack a grin.

There’s nothing worse than being the loser of Michigan-Ohio State on the last football weekend in November. So you can imagine how the Wolverines fans are doing nowadays, their team unable to beat the Buckeyes more than once over the past nine years.

I submit that when you win a Michigan-Ohio State game, you feel little more than relief and satisfaction. When you lose, you feel like you just swallowed lye.

So what could be sweeter than to have Michigan and Ohio State in the same division, if for no other reason than to give one school the chance to ruin the season for the other?

That’s what Michigan-Ohio State has often been about—pouring sugar in the other team’s gas tank.

Nothing can do that better than to play the other guys with a chance to knock them out of contention for the Big Ten/Twelve title.

Let’s face it: The scales have tipped in the conference. It’s no longer the Big Two/Little Eight anymore. Ohio State is still elite, but Michigan is scuffling.

So the chances of Michigan and Ohio State meeting as divisional champs seem to be dwindling, though it could still occur on occasion—setting up the scenario where the schools would play twice in one season.

Doesn’t matter. There should NEVER be a scenario where Michigan and Ohio State play twice in the same year, much less on successive weeks. Let the loser feel lousy for a year!

On the other hand, there should ALWAYS be the possibility that Michigan or Ohio State could ruin the other’s chances of being divisional champion, thus knocking them out of a conference championship contest.

I get the winner-take-all camp, who desires to see The Game still have a chance at being a conference decider. But under the new alignment, that would necessitate there being TWO The Games.

For whatever reason, Delany and others looked at the tradition of having Michigan playing Ohio State on the season’s last weekend as being an “either or” thing. In other words, “You can have your ‘The Game’ on the last week, but only if we split the teams into separate divisions.’"


Why not have both?

Why not keep the schools in the same division, AND keep The Game on the final weekend?

So Michigan will never play Ohio State for the conference championship under that scenario.

Once again, WHO CARES?

Either school will savor a Big Ten/Twelve Championship whether it comes against Iowa or Purdue or Nebraska. It would be the scrumptious dessert after a meal of Wolverine or Buckeye the week prior.

And if a scuffling Michigan or Ohio State is able to derail the other’s championship dream for that season?


Look, I know that ALL conference games count in the conference standings, regardless if they’re played against divisional rivals or not. And yes, that means that a team can still rain on another’s parade from the other division.

But how about when both Michigan and Ohio State end up on even footing—and yes, it will happen again. When that happens, if they’re both in the same division, things are likely to come down to the winner of Michigan-Ohio State being division champs, and moving on to the conference title game.

Loser gets those gnarled insides. As tradition dictates.

You’d have Michigan play Ohio State from separate divisions, and the loser getting another crack at it a week later?

It should never work that way.

Did Nixon get another try at Kennedy a week after the 1960 presidential election? Did they hold another Daytime Emmy Awards ceremony a week later so Susan Lucci could have another shot?

Hey, did MLB allow the Red Sox to play the Yankees again after Bucky Dent broke the Beantowners’ hearts?

Michigan should play Ohio State once, and once only, in football every year.

The winner can move on. The loser can bounce off the walls for a year, for all I care.

You win that game, you feel great. You lose it, your world comes to an end for 364 days.

That’s what Michigan-Ohio State football is all about. It’s “See ya next year,” not “See ya next week.”

You can’t have a proper Michigan-Ohio State football rivalry if the loser gets to feel better about themselves in 168 hours.

Delany coughed up the football on this one, I’m sorry.

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