Here's hoping the Big Ten never adds a 12th member and never holds a conference championship game.
It would cheapen the regular season and it would especially cheapen the Ohio State-Michigan game.
Of course, if Notre Dame wants in, it will probably be in, but no other school should even be considered. There simply is not any clear advantage to having a conference title game.
Many point to money as a reason to do it, but even that can be disputed. No one can prove that the money generated by a conference title game would be able to counteract the money lost by adding another member. Instead of splitting the profits 11 ways, the Big Ten would have to split it 12 ways. Maybe they would break even. Maybe not.
But the biggest reason Big Ten fans should not want a conference title game is because it makes the road to the national championship much more difficult.
Last year, imagine if Ohio State had just defeated Michigan for the right to play Iowa in two weeks. That would have been a winnable game for the Buckeyes for sure, but it would have been one more hurdle to clear.
Even worse, imagine if OSU and UM are undefeated going into "The Game" this year. Now let's say the winner has to play a 9-3 team like Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game two weeks later. Why should a 12-0 OSU or UM team have to play another game to prove they are the Big Ten champs? They shouldn't. That is what the Big Ten regular season is for. Yes, some years there are ties, but most years a clear-cut league champion emerges from the regular season.
Thankfully, Big Ten athletic directors – like Andy Geiger – seem even more opposed to a conference title game than I am. Geiger has said over and over again that his colleagues in the Big 12 and SEC do not like having a conference title game and that he will fight to prevent the creation of one in the Big Ten.
Time to admit it… I like the BCS.
Granted, it's not as good as a playoff system, but if you are looking at it from an Ohio State fan's point of view, it is a good thing. The regular season acts as the de-facto playoff and then the two top teams are left standing. I used to rip the BCS when it first came out, even though it was much better than the old system. The rational was: anything that's not a playoff system deserves to be ripped. But, it's amazing what winning a national championship will do to change your perspective.
And who's to say that the NCAA wouldn't find a way to screw up a playoff system anyway? What if it created a watered-down playoff of 16 teams? That would be far too many teams. If you finish the regular season out of the top 10, you have no business playing for the national championship. This is not basketball. We actually want the regular season to mean something.
If the NCAA does decide to hold a playoff someday, it should include eight teams, or even better, six teams.
With six, the top two seeds would get a first-round bye. In the first round, No.3 would face No.6, while No.4 would face No.5. In the semifinals, the winner of 3 vs. 6 would play No.2 and the winner of 4 vs. 5 would play No.1. Then, we would have the national championship game.
But, as we stand now, the BCS is a decent system. I definitely prefer it over a 16-game playoff.
What is the problem with the BCS? Some years (like in 1998), you have about four teams that finish the regular season equal. Then it is not fair when only two of those teams get to play for the title and the other two have to play in a meaningless bowl.
So, the BCS is by no means perfect, but it's not as bad as once thought.
(Note: The current BCS contract expires after the 2005 season. It will probably be renewed for another eight years, with a few "tweaks.")
BIG TEN RICH WITH QBs
There are several quality quarterbacks in the Big Ten this season. Here is a quick rundown of them in order.
1. Craig Krenzel, Sr. Ohio State (Tough as nails, one of the highest QB ratings in the country last year and his passing will only improve this year).
3. John Navarre, Sr. Michigan (Closed the season playing very well last year… might have the strongest arm in the conference).
4. Jon Beutjer, Sr. Illinois (Where was that timid QB we saw play for Iowa a few years back? Beutjer surprised many with a decent season last year and with a year under his belt, will be even better this year).
8. Nathan Chandler, Sr. Iowa (Big, strong-armed, former JUCO transfer who takes over for another former JUCO in Brad Banks. The Hawkeyes probably messed up by not redshirting him last year. Was 20 attempts worth burning a year of eligibility?).
9. Matt LoVecchio, Jr. Indiana (Somewhat talented Notre Dame transfer might make the Hoosiers a 2-10 team instead of 0-12).
11. Damon Dowdell, Jr. Michigan State (Jeff Smoker might be back from rehab in time for the season, but as it stands now Dowdell is the starter).
TRESS SINGS AT WRIGLEY
ACCORDING TO USA TODAY…
Kirk Herbstreit recently signed a five-year/$3 million deal with ESPN.
Of all the great nicknames for football defenses over the years, Ohio State's "Silver Bullets" has got to be one of the best.
Some of the ones I can think of, in no particular order, are: Steel Curtain, Doomsday, Desert Swarm, Gang Green, Monsters of the Midway, Orange Crush and Purple People Eaters.
Buckeye fans should just be glad that the "Silver Bullets" live on past the Fred Pagac, Sr. era. Pagac coined the phrase in 1995, but I've even heard Mark Dantonio say things like, "We've got to get those silver bullets flying around."
Speaking of great nicknames, the best name for a Buckeye award is still the "Jack Tatum Hit of the Week," started by Tressel in 2001. What a great tribute to "The Assassin," one of the most ferocious hitters in the history of the game.
Unfortunately, Tatum has had to endure a very difficult year. His left leg (under the knee) was recently amputated due to Late Life Diabetes. Best wishes to Jack and his family.
JENKINS HAULING IN RECORDS?
One thing that has gone somewhat under the radar is the fact that Michael Jenkins is on the verge of breaking Ohio State career receiving records this year. Jenkins currently has 110 receptions for 2,064 yards. The school records are 191 receptions and 2,855 yards, both held by David Boston. Jenkins might not be able to grab 81 passes this year, but what do you want to bet he gets at least 791 yards? Get out of here Neuheisel, that was just a figure of speech.
DISRESPECT MIGHT HELP THE BUCKS?
I am thrilled that some of these preseason publications are picking the Buckeyes as low as No. 3 in their preseason rankings. I still think OSU will definitely be No.1 in both the AP and the coaches poll, but any disrespect will only help the Buckeyes get even more motivated for the season. Guys like Krenzel, Jenkins and Tim Anderson are tired of hearing that last year was a fluke. They mentioned over and over again during the spring that they still have a lot to prove and apparently they are right. Not sure how the defending national champion can be ranked No. 3 with nearly everyone back, but disrespect like that can only help. What this team doesn't need is everyone telling them how great they are and that they will have no problem repeating.
I love hearing the term "opening night" as opposed to "opening day." Ohio Stadium comes alive during night games. Washington won't know what hit them.
ACCORDING TO SPIELMAN…
All of Ohio State's assistant coaches now make over $100,000 and Dantonio makes around $200,000. Before Tressel got his contract extension, he wanted to make sure his staff was taken care of. Just another example of what type of man he is.
A solution to the ACC expansion saga. We thought it would never end, but Miami and Virginia Tech finally made the jump. Look for the ACC to add another team within the next two years… As for the Big East, I expect it will offer Louisville and Cincinnati to join. It makes sense for football and basketball.
BENTLEY V. WALTER
I found it hilarious that Tyson Walter received just $6,000 in his lawsuit against LeCharles Bentley. What might have helped Bentley was that John Cooper took the stand and said that Walter was a cancer in the locker room and had it coming. That was probably the best six grand that Bentley ever spent.
There is a strong Florida connection on the Buckeyes once again this year. Jenkins, Chris Gamble, Lydell Ross, Santonio Holmes, Bryce Bishop, Nate Salley, Thomas Matthews and Bobby Britton are all from the Sunshine State. Nice work, Bill Conley.
E-mail Dave at email@example.com