Thursday, May 24, 2012

Miscellaneous Minutiae, 5/24/2012

Just in case you needed a painful reminder. The pair of MNC game losses aside, Ohio State was obscenely dominant throughout the Tressel era: news at 11. From this week's Big Ten mailblog, these two points stand out:
  • Ohio State hasn't lost to the same opponent twice in a row since 2003/04 (Wisconsin--the first being, yes, that game where Robert Reynolds did that thing). 
  • The Buckeyes lost five conference games between 2005 and 2010. My goodness. 
These aren't things you reflexively think about because the previous decade or so is mostly a monolithic bloc of frustrating rivalry immolation. With that said, when you actually look at things like the above--in addition to other similarly shocking-but-not-really-shocking stats and/or anecdotes that make you go CRABLE WHY  or LLOYD WHY PUNT THERE WHY WE'RE NOT WINNING BY THAT MUCH--what the Buckeyes did to the conference was pretty amazing. Say what you will about the strength of the Big Ten during that span, but that is impressive any way you slice it. The odds of a run like that happening anytime soon are not that great. 

With that said, the 2012 schedule for the Buckeyes does feature more than a few opportunities to see the aforementioned streak end. Michigan State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Michigan are all distinct possibilities, and who knows what Penn State will look like this year. Three of those five are on the road, so, I think it's safe to say that the streak will come to an end. It's also safe to say that a couple other streaks and records that only fans care about will come to an end, given how high Tressel set the bar. I doubt that the Buckeyes experience the same sort of catastrophic tabula rasa-ing that Michigan got in its transition from Lloyd to RR, but there will be some bumps in the road. How many bumps there'll end up being will be the difference between say, another 6-win season and an 8 or 9 win year in Year 1 under Meyer.

Just here to negate all that retrospective doom and gloom, you guys

Show me the money. In light of the Great Band Fiasco of 2012, you're probably wondering a bit about Michigan's finances and, by extension, how much cash money we netted from the Sugar Bowl. Well, here you go
After expenses were taken out and the Big Ten absorbed the cost of the university's unsold tickets, Michigan brought in $78,916 in profit from its trip to New Orleans, according to records received by WolverineNation as part of a Freedom of Information request.
The headline doesn't include all pertinent information (not that it can be expected to), but, either way, your visceral reaction of "pfft, that's it" might not be completely wrong. I still don't think it's unreasonable to wonder why the "guys in blazers" that everybody euphemistically refers to get paid so much to do so little. Bowl directors and general hangers on remind me of Turtle from Entourage in that they are completely useless vis-a-vis their role in the entire operation. This is bad because anything that reminds me of Entourage or a character from it is probably a pretty terrible thing. 

Naturally, everybody in the Big Ten who is anybody thinks that semi-final home games would be a bad idea. They would make money, which I thought was what this was all about, but I guess they would also preclude generally anonymous B1G administrators from having ritzy times in warm weather bowl locales for a few days. Emphasis mine: 
Michigan spent $423,574 to transport the 379 people comprising the team and staff to New Orleans for the game, $297,183 for the 319 members of the band and cheerleading squads and $16,470 to transport 31 members of the school's "official party," which Ablauf wrote comprised "non-athletic department personnel: Regents, president and university officials."
Jim Delany is Vincent Chase if the latter had an entourage that enjoyed exquisite cheese spreads and maintained an average age of no less than 60. Okay, obviously I'm joking a little bit here (it's not like $16,000 and change is all that much in the grand scheme of things anyway), but there's probably a little truth to the point that these guys have a personal stake in this.

On a somewhat unrelated note, the other main takeaway from all of this for you, the fan: things are a lot more expensive than you think. Those transportation, food, and lodging costs are kind of staggering. It's not right for Brandon to Machiavelli his way into getting people to pay for the band, but, can you blame him?

DB: slowly making me back away from the "let's laugh at the hate-everything-DB-does-people" table. I have moved on from the fact that we will likely never get the chance to see a team from below the Mason-Dixon line come up to the frigid North to play the game of football. Football, you see, is a delicate game that can always be played under the most pleasant of conditions. The willingness to "roll over," ostensibly for the sake of compromise, is irritating; however, much of the ire against Delany et al is admittedly better directed at the other participants in this playoff debate, simply because they have strength in numbers with respect to this particular issue.

Still, Dave...come on, man. I mean, sometimes I wonder if the Big Ten brass are representing, you know, the Big Ten's interests, what with the comments regarding the "unfairness" of getting teams from warm parts of the country (see: everywhere that isn't the B1G, apparently) to play up north in December/January, and now this.

Not only did DB not support a playoff at all (it's not like he has a choice now), he didn't even feign support for campus site semi-finals and now he's saying that he's against even having neutral site games in the Midwest: 
"The one thing that kind of gets left out of this discussion that maybe ought to get some weight are the kids," he said Friday during WTKA's Mott Takeover. "Now, I know a lot of people don't really care about that part, but I do, and if you polled our players and said, 'If you played a really tough, successful, long regular season, the award you're going to get is to travel to Ford Field or Lucas Oil Stadium,' they would look at you and say, 'Huh?'
I just don't know what to say anymore. I've been far less critical of DB than most people, but this is starting to get absurd. If Brandon has done some even somewhat scientific polling of Michigan players on this issue of "travel convenience/de facto home field advantage vs. going somewhere warm and awesome like Orlando WOO" then I'd love to see it. I doubt that happens, because bringing up "the kids" is a good way of making any critics tantamount to "oh, so you hate the kids huh?"I am not at all saying that DB (and others) don't care about the players, it's just that saying these decisions are being made because of what the players want is maybe a little disingenuous. Maybe I'm being overly cynical.

General superconference thoughts. Stuart Mandel talks about, among other things, why a conference champions only playoff model would negatively impact the importance of the regular season. I don't necessarily disagree with his arguments, but I'm of a mind that superconferences are going to happen. As nonsensical and unnatural as the concept may seem when you look at a map, it's actually a much tidier plan, especially when juxtaposed with what is being discussed within the context of the current conference by conference landscape. As long as the Big East and ACC exist, they will have to be considered in a non-superconference playoff.

A few stray thoughts related to my post from the other day on the issue. It's easy to become enamored with the symmetry of the superconference model: 4 conferences, 16 teams each, 4 playoff spots that require teams to do one simple thing, i.e. win their conference. Very clean and very simple. What's that Alabama, you didn't win your division or your conference? NO SOUP FOR YOU.

In a sense, this setup would mimic the NCAAB tournament model in a roundabout way. I know this sounds like a bad thing, because, after all, everyone complains about how vastly unimportant the college basketball is compared to the Big Dance. The Final Four is not comprised of the "best" teams each and every year, but rather the teams that made it through their respective regions. In this sense, the college football regular season would essentially become the first four rounds of the Big Dance, with the 4 team playoff of course mirroring the Final Four.

Yes, lawsuits will rain down from the sky if this happens. Also, someone mentioned this on MGoBlog the other day (I can't remember who or where it was, but if I find it I'll update), but there really isn't a centralized entity or any pervasive force that's pushing realignment to happen, let alone pushing each of the four conferences to exactly 16 teams. The more that I think about this point, the more that I wonder whether or not even teams even exist to fill out the rest of the Big Ten (Notre Dame, Rutgers...and? Maybe Virginia Tech if they don't land elsewhere?), and even the Pac 12.

The SEC, however, is already at 14. The Big 12, if the completely reliable rumblings are to be believed, might be getting ready to go on an expansion spree that is positively Supermarket Sweep-esque. What would force the B1G and Pac 12 to expand if both the SEC and Big 12 got to 16? Does the Big 12 event want 16, or is it just looking to add teams so that its figurative EKG machine stops flat-lining every so often, something that was a daily torment for the conference not too long ago? You know, kind of like stocking up on water jugs and batteries, just in case*. I don't really have answers to these questions, but when you throw out the inevitability that is "lawyers from have-not schools running around all nimbly bimbly," the whole non-conference games becoming obsolete thing, and the ongoing cognitive dissonance of "this is about the kids" while forcing said kids to travel outrageous distances for conference games...well.

Maybe superconferences aren't such a great idea after all. Symmetry is nice, though.

*Yes, the Big 12 is Dale Gribble. Yes, I am a fan of 1990s television.

More? I don't have much to say about this, but I will say this: whenever the apocalypse comes to pass, I'm pretty certain that Gene Smith will still somehow be the AD at OSU when all is said and done. It's like Smith has spent the entire time since Tressel's departure saying questionable things and then going "hey everybody look over there!"...and then everybody does, and here we are over a year later and he's still the AD and nobody has seemed to notice.

Jim Delany doesn't want to talk about it, because discussing one's finances is tacky and unbecoming of a Big Ten Man. Some good recruiting buzz from UMHoops on Michigan's point guard of the future (and others). Via Michigan Today, a look at Jim Abbott's recently released memoir, Imperfect: An Improbable Life

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