The Big 10 (with 14 schools; can anyone do math?) will play college football this fall. That conference, steeped in tradition and at one time a paragon of virtue (or at least of three yards and a cloud of dust), has sold its soul.
It couldn’t resist the lust of money, so it concocted a nice story that widespread daily testing will allow for all players to find out instantly whether they’ve contracted coronavirus.
Such propaganda. But propaganda that will be quickly digested by fans ready to watch their favorite team play a game during a pandemic.
Critic: “C’mon, we can’t just sit around and do nothing right now, Anthony. Let them play!”
Me: “So, we’re going to just sit around, staying as safe as we can from a virus that’s killed 200,000 of our fellow citizens and watch them play? The irony is lost on you?”
I suppose being noble and making such coronavirus tests available for the good citizens of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — you know, the taxpayers who (sort of) fund 13 of the 14 universities — is, well, undignified, when television money and a potential national championship is at stake.
Football fans now have an almost full plate of top-level college football to look forward to in the coming weeks. The PAC-12 (which has 12 schools; the people out west clearly do know how to count), mocked for so many reasons from being too soft to playing too late into the night (for those east coast snobs), remains the lone “power” conference not playing.
Will the presidents and chancellors of those institutions — 10 of which are public — remain resolute in saying no to all sports this fall?
I certainly hope they do.
We now face a really interesting scenario: How to ensure Ohio State is included in the four-team national championship tournament.
That’s what today’s decision by the leaders of the Big 10 was all about. You know it, and I know it. Ohio State would have been ranked no worse than second right now in a normal college football season. Those championship dreams cannot be denied.
If the Buckeye$$$$$ go 8-0 (as of now, it appears the Big 10 will play only eight games), they will be judged against teams that (might) play 10 or 11 games.
Let’s presume the other Power-5 conferences have only one team each going unbeaten — let’s project Clemson (ACC), Oklahoma (Big 12, with only 10 teams; seriously, can anyone but the people in the PAC-12 do math?), and Alabama (SEC) — then the played-fewer-games-but-are-still-undefeated Buckeye$$$$$ can slot into that fourth spot. (Controversy be damned because Ohio State fans will buy tickets to the ga… Exactly.)
Ah, but what happens if the Buckeye$$$$$ lose one game but win their conference?
Oh, my friend, now we weave a tangled web. What if the runners up in those other conferences also have just one loss, but have two or three more wins?
Spare me the nonsense that the “committee’s job is to find the four best teams.” How do you find the four best teams in a year in which victories (or defeats) could be tainted by the number of players infected with coronavirus and who therefore can’t play?
And I await the wailing and gnashing of teeth from Buckeye country, people who will say O H I O won its conference! (Actually O H I O didn’t win its conference, because the Mid-American Conference opted to not play football this fall.) And if the Buckeye$$$$$ won their conference, then by God and country, they “earned” the right to play for the title.
Of course, they did.
My friends, there is no good way to determine the four teams that should play for the championship this year. Even if all four major conferences complete the season without a single game being cancelled, the problem of what to do with one team being 8-0 while others might be 9-1 or 10-1 can’t be ignored. If playing as few games as possible is smart — hey, fewer chances at a loss! — then reduce the season to 8 games for all the conferences.
At least then we’re comparing soup to (Buckeye) nuts. Oh, and all those extra tests can be donated to the public.