Of all the stupid ways the Bowl Championship Series is stupid — and the stupid BCS is stupid in more stupid ways than can be counted — I’m not on board with this week’s meme that the unlikelihood of a Michigan-Ohio State rematch in the Championship Game is one of them.
To translate that into English: It looks like it’s time for this stupid column to get interested in college football. Michigan plays Ohio State Saturday, the top two teams in the country in a rivalry game, pretty much the kind of thing college football fans point to and say, “Beat that,” which can’t be done.
I think it’s not a majority opinion, but there are people out there who believe that because Ohio State and Michigan are clearly the best teams in the country, neither should be denied a place in the title game just for losing to the other. By definition, Saturday’s loser would have the toughest loss of any one-loss team.
The only other undefeated team in the BCS top 10 is Rutgers, and it would take a series of unlikely events for the Scarlet Knights to make it to No. 2. More likely, though still unlikely, is Rutgers playing in the Rose Bowl, if you just want to chew on that for a while.
What’s most likely to happen is that USC, ranked third at the moment, will win its remaining games — Cal, Notre Dame and at UCLA, hardly a slam-dunk but the Trojans will be favored in all three — and play the Michigan-OSU winner in the Championship Game.
So you have to give the BCS credit. Its proponents like to talk about how, for all its flaws, the BCS has provided matchups that wouldn’t have been possible before. This year it looks like it’s going to serve up USC vs. Michigan or Ohio State, something the old system only managed to come up with 13 times.
Only those happened in Pasadena at the Granddaddy of ‘em All, not Glendale, Ariz., in the Giant Doorstop of ‘em All.
One thing the BCS does have going for it is it’s turned the entire regular season into a playoff. The trouble with most playoff systems in most sports is that they devalue the regular season. No such worry in NCAA Division I-A, where if you lose once, you’re out of the running for the championship.
Except when you aren’t. And the stupid part of that is that the most important element in whether one loss does you in isn’t who you lose to, it’s when you lose.
That’s why the loser of the Michigan-Ohio State game, with a single loss to the best team in the nation, will be watching the National Championship Game. Because USC and the other contenders had the good sense to lose earlier in the season. The Trojans lost to 6-4 Oregon State and No. 4 Florida lost to 9-2 Auburn in October. Fifth-ranked Notre Dame lost its game in September. To Michigan. By four touchdowns.
Wouldn’t it be rich if Michigan loses to Ohio State on a last-second field goal, and then has to watch Notre Dame play for the title because the Wolverines made the mistake of pounding the Irish in September instead of November. Bang your head on the desk stupid.
Or better yet, if you’re Ohio State and Michigan, get on the phone to each other and agree to play your game Labor Day weekend. That’d give the loser plenty of time to recover and get into position for a mutually lucrative title-game rematch, which would in turn boost the rivalry.
But for all that, here’s why Ohio State and Michigan shouldn’t play for the national championship: Because they’re in the same conference. Teams have played in the title game without winning their conference before, most recently Oklahoma in the 2003 season. It was wrong then and it would be wrong now.
It doesn’t matter if you’re the second best team in the country. If you can’t win your league, too bad for you. It’s the same reason the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots won’t meet in the Super Bowl, why the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks won’t be playing for the NBA title.
Why have conferences if winning or losing them means nothing? If it’s just to preserve that Ohio State-Northwestern rivalry, let’s start over.
An Ohio State vs. Michigan rematch on Jan. 8 would cancel out the one thing the stupid BCS does well, which is make every regular-season game vitally important. It would be one more reason, as if we needed one, to find a new way to crown a college football champion.
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San Francisco’s Olympian whining about the 49ers [PERMALINK]
We talk a lot around here about sports teams’ sense of entitlement, the way they demand that cities, counties and states pony up tax dollars for the privilege of being the site of the team owners’ enrichment, the way they whine when their demands aren’t met.
This week we have a city whining in unseemly fashion about a sports team letting it down.
San Francisco officials and civic leaders are in a full pout after the city was forced to drop its bid for the 2016 Olympics because the 49ers abruptly ended talks about a new stadium at Candlestick Point and announced it would build a new home in nearby Santa Clara.
The new stadium, replacing what used to be known as Candlestick Park, was to be the central Olympic venue, a centerpiece of the bid.
“All these people signed up thinking they were going in one direction, and now, as we all heard yesterday, they are going in a different direction,” former 49ers star Ronnie Lott told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier and Ross Friday. “It is changing their lives. I don’t know if the 49ers or anyone down there even thought about those people.”
Both Mayor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco 2016 organizing committee chief Scott Givens moaned to Matier and Ross that they had, in Givens’ words, “no notice or warning” that the 49ers would pull out, even though the team had warned in a Sept. 14 letter that “it would seem prudent for the Bid Committee” to have a backup plan.
That there wasn’t a feasible backup — city officials scoffed at the idea of fixing up 46-year-old Monster, né Candlestick, Park and there doesn’t seem to be an alternative site available — isn’t the 49ers’ fault. You can criticize any part of the team’s attempt to get a stadium deal in San Francisco or its decision to move down the freeway.
But other than using it to leverage public financing for a new stadium, the team has no obligation to the Olympic bid. If the city were so reliant on the 49ers to make an Olympic bid work, and an Olympic bid were important enough, then the city should have done more to make the 49ers happy.
As a person with a lot of friends, and an employer, paying taxes in San Francisco, I’m glad the city, which has long acted prudently in these matters, repeatedly refusing to fork over cash to build palaces for the Niners and Giants, didn’t do more to make the 49ers happy.
But you can’t then sit around and mewl about how the 49ers won’t play ball. Even if they waited till the last minute to decide not to play. If San Francisco didn’t have a backup plan, it had to make the 49ers happy. It didn’t. No whining.
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