Features

Cavalcade of Whimsy: The Case Against Ohio State & Why Michigan Lost

Cavalcade of Whimsy: The Case Against Ohio State


The case against Ohio State, the Navy problem, and the coaching craziness, in a very special Cavalcade of Whimsy.


Contact/Follow @PeteFiutak

Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …

But I’m bitterly disappointed in the column today.

It’s 2016 … WHERE’S THE CAMERA ON THE FIRST DOWN LINE FOR THE DEFINITIVE ANGLE AND SHOT?!

No, Jim Harbaugh. Michigan didn’t lose to Ohio State because of the officials.

There were some whiffs on some potential pass interference calls, but the game moved on.

That fourth down run by J.T. Barrett could’ve absolutely been called the other way, but it wasn’t.

That wasn’t why the Wolverines lost.

They lost because they didn’t D up on the next play.

They lost because Wilton Speight threw two unconscionable interceptions on two unconscionable play calls considering the situations.

They lost because of a fumble on a deep drive that was about to lead to a score.

They lost because their offense got shut down to a dead stop in the fourth quarter, missing on all three third down chances after going 8-for-13 in the first three quarters.

They lost because Ohio State had the ball for over 11 minutes in the fourth quarter and managed to keep the game alive.

They lost because Raekwon McMillan, Jerome Baker and Chris Worley had themselves a GAME.

They lost because Barrett, just like he did against Wisconsin, stepped up and took over when all appeared lost after an awful first half.

They lost, because for the second straight year, Michigan gagged away its biggest game – Michigan State last season – it should’ve had tucked away.

They lost because, apparently, they’re still Ohio State, and you’re not.

All goodwill and warm fuzzies built up from last blurb about to be served a darling cocktail of middle-fingers and venom from a fan base that isn’t happy, even when it’s happy.

Before diving into the ridiculous, obviously, more important things are going on at the Ohio State campus over the last few days. Hang in there, and thank goodness this wasn’t any worse … Go Buckeyes.

You know how Obama thinks Trump is an idiot and totally unfit to be the President of the United States – spending months saying so on the stump – but is putting all that aside because he’s fully aware of the precedent he’s setting with the uninterrupted peaceful and helpful transition of power?

And do you remember how everyone had Hillary winning in a historic landslide, while a few pundits were mocked and ridiculed by pointing out that Trump really and truly had a path to victory?

Take all that, yank out the politics, stuff it with college football, and throw it in the oven on 350 for six hours, basting regularly, and that’s me when it comes to Ohio State right now.

I believe that Ohio State is absolutely and without question one of the four best teams in college football, and I absolutely and without question want to see it play in the College Football Playoff.

And I also believe that Ohio State is almost certainly going to get into the CFP, even if Alabama, Clemson, and Washington win this weekend.

But I’m willing to put that all aside for the good of the sport, for our grandchildren, and yes, for freedom everywhere, as the CFP continues to be the standard for what all post-seasons could and should strive to become.

Even though Ohio State is the second-best team in college football right now, I want to see the College Football Playoff make a definitive, precedent-setting statement that the regular season matters above all else, and that conference championships matter more than anything else.

I’m hoping that the committee can be the keeper of the flame that mocks all other sports, showing just how ridiculous and gimmicky it is to have a wild-card, and how wrong it was that, for example, an undeserving team like 2015-2016 Syracuse got to the Final Four and Michigan State got bounced right away, proving once again that the college basketball regular season is nothing more than a polite waste of time.

So if that means a team as amazing as Ohio State is left out so that the integrity of the college football season and the playoff run can be left intact, I’ll take this one for the good of our nation.

It’ll be on my epitaph: If you’re not good enough to win your conference championship, you don’t deserve to play for the national title.

I’m going to keep saying this up until the announcement finally comes down on Sunday – if it actually goes down this way – but watch out if Penn State wins the Big Ten championship, because I know how the College Football Playoff committee rolls. Everyone has to remember that this isn’t like the AP or Coaches polls, and once the season ends, the entire selection process flips on its ear.

They’re going to do a side-by-side Pepsi challenge – they pick teams for ranking slots based on a compare and contrast style – and if it comes down to Can A vs. Can B, and if Can A has a conference championship and a win over Can B, guess which can is getting picked – even if Can B tastes better?

Ohio State would then have no beef if Penn State wins the B1G title and if Alabama, Clemson, and Washington also win, and here’s why.

1. Penn State would be the winner of the best conference in college football this year.

2. Penn State won the head-to-head battle. No matter how it happened, it happened.

3. Throw out the eye test – as college football history has proven, everyone’s eyes need the iPhone flashlight to read the smaller type on the menu. If you’re going to give Ohio State love for looking amazing against Nebraska and beating Oklahoma at Oklahoma, Wisconsin at Wisconsin, and Michigan, you have to honk at it for looking like dogmeat against a miserable Michigan State team that came within a two-point conversion of possibly winning, and then got obliterated by Penn State the next week. Also, OSU struggled way too much against Northwestern and Indiana.

4. By the way, Penn State would be the winner of the best conference in college football, and it beat Ohio State head-to-head.

5. 2014 TCU. The Horned Frogs went 11-1, losing in a heartbreaker on the road to Baylor in a game they could’ve won with one late fourth down conversion. Even so, they were No. 3 in the second-to-last College Football Playoff rankings, but dropped to sixth in the final ones that mattered. And why? As the CFP explained, they weren’t the conference champs – Baylor was – even though the two were tied in the standings. College Football Playoff committee, you already established your standards and the precedent.

7. PENN STATE WOULD BE THE WINNER OF THE BEST CONFERENCE IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL, AND IT BEAT OHIO STATE HEAD-TO-HEAD.

And if Wisconsin wins the Big Ten? Ehhhhhhh, yeah. I’ll stick with everything I just yammered on about, but I won’t go to the wall for it since Ohio State won the head-to-head matchup on the road. However, the Badgers would’ve survived the nation’s best conference with a win at Iowa – Michigan couldn’t do that. And a win over Penn State – OSU couldn’t do that. And with a Big Ten title – Michigan and Ohio State couldn’t even get in that game.

Now, before you hit the Tweet button …

Yeah, I really, really do want Ohio State in my College Football Playoff

So how do we make that happen?

How can we reach across the aisle and come to an agreement that makes everyone happy?

Here’s my sacrifice/compromise to the college football gods: I’m offering up the Pac-12.

Purely as a fan, I want Clemson to beat Virginia Tech. Once the Tigers get a month to rest up a bit and get everyone right, this team has the talent, the experience, the coaching, the quarterback, and the ability to win the national title.

However, Washington? Meh.

Now, if the Huskies beat Colorado, then absolutely they should be in. (BTW, I’m not an anti-Pac-12ite at all, but the league just didn’t beat anyone this year. The same argument would go for the Big 12, and, to be real, the SEC other than Alabama.)

So, CFP Gods, I humbly ask of you for a Buff win for a College Football Playoff of Alabama, Clemson, Big Ten champ, and Ohio State.

But doesn’t that go against my core belief that only conference champions should be in over teams that didn’t win their own division? (And, by the way, tie-breakers are part of the deal, Big Ten statement or not, so quit bothering me with the “technically Ohio State and Penn State tied” thing. It makes the world a lesser place.)

Yeah, but in the current format, a two-loss champion only matters if you beat someone. Washington has beaten no one, neither has Colorado, neither has USC, and neither has anyone in the Pac-12. The Big Ten is the best conference in college football this season, so in that case, yeah – a two-loss champ is conveniently cool in my world.

Again, if you’re going to do this, then why isn’t Alabama No. 1 in the FCS poll?

YO! To the pretentious AP pollster types who voted for the North Dakota State Bison back in September. Why aren’t you voting for them now?

That win over Iowa looks more and more amazing, especially considering the Hawkeyes beat Michigan, Minnesota and Nebraska over the last few weeks. NDSU is 11-1, No. 3 in the FCS nation, and about to go on another playoff run. So where are they? Certainly, you think they’re better than Tulsa and Troy, right?

Or – just spitballin’ here – could it be possible that you were being silly, you didn’t take the honor of being an AP voter seriously, and you haven’t watched a single, solitary second of NDSU football for the last few months? But, of course, that couldn’t have been it you Bison lover, you.

”They want you/they want you/they want you as a new recruit”

Ready for your bowl season fly in the ointment? Your 2016 Navy Midshipmen.

If Western Michigan loses the MAC Championship to Ohio, and Navy beats Temple for the American Athletic Conference title, Navy will almost certainly finish ahead of WMU in the final College Football Playoff rankings and be the Group of Five champion to go to the New Year’s Six Cotton Bowl. But there’s one massive issue.

What if Navy loses to Army on December 10th?

Or, let’s say both Western Michigan and Navy win this weekend and the Broncos are slightly higher in the final CFP rankings.

Then the College Football Playoff committee will likely delay the Cotton Bowl decision.

And if WMU loses to Ohio and Navy wins this weekend, then the decision will definitely have to wait in case Army wins.

This screws up the Cotton Bowl, the Armed Forces Bowl – Navy’s bowl tie-in if not in the New Year’s Six – and the entire MAC world.

”The thing is, Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy, I just don’t care.”

It’s about as clean as these things get.

Texas wanted Tom Herman, Tom Herman wanted Texas. Deep down, LSU wanted Ed Orgeron, Ed Orgeron wanted LSU. Florida State wanted to keep Jimbo Fisher, Jimbo Fisher wanted to stay at Florida State. And while the Texas athletic department types wanted to let Charlie Strong go with class, Strong will be dignified with 11 million bucks for being let go.

And as all this was happening, I came to the startling realization.

Whatever. All of these coaches are interchangeable.

They’re all going to get canned or eventually leave for other jobs. They’re all generational-wealthy multi-millionaires. They’re all going to amaze, they’re all going to disappoint, and depending on the wrong breaks and the wrong year, they’ll all going to be on some hot seat list, and then the process will start up again.

And all on Thanksgiving Day.

”Coming into your own, are you, Melon?”

At first, I was the guy who could be baited by a tweet, this one from the Vanderbilt fans dogging me for my preseason last place SEC pick for their Commodores. But after a few minutes of proper reflection, yeah – knock yourselves out.

I should be purged. I should be flogged (even though I wasn’t THAT far off on four of the teams and picking Tennessee to win and Vandy for last was hardly outside-the-box, but … I’m doing it again). That’s what I’m here for.

Vanderbilt and Colorado lovers, Kentucky and Mississippi State die-hards, UTSA, Wake Forest, Miami University and Old Dominion fans, you deserve it. However you want to crank it up, have as much fun as possible and rip away, puff your chests out, and go for it.

Enjoy the season and the moment, and woe to you if your teams ever turn into Ohio State or Alabama and you only get to have fun if your teams win a national title.

This week’s reason why the Big 12 should’ve considered me for expansion …

My hotshot new head coach didn’t lose to Memphis during his job interview.

The sure-thing, 100%, rock-solid lock, sell the house, sell the kids, no doubt about it picks of the century for this week

 

I still want to make those Michigan and Utah straight up picks, but after the bloodletting going a ridiculous 0-5 – 2-3 against the spread, which is all that matters, of course – I’m going 16 for 16.

Straight Up: 23-18, Against the Spread: 27-13-1

Western Michigan -18.5 over Ohio

Washington -7.5 over Colorado

West Virginia -17 over Baylor

Kansas State +4.5 over TCU

South Alabama -11.5 over New Mexico State

Troy -7 over Georgia Southern

ULM +7 over Louisiana-Lafayette

Oklahoma -11.5 over Oklahoma State

Texas State +23 over Arkansas State (but ASU straight up)

Idaho -6.5 over Georgia State

Louisiana Tech +9.5 over WKU (but WKU straight up)

Temple +3 over Navy

Florida +24 over Alabama (but Alabama straight up)

San Diego State -6.5 over Wyoming

Clemson -10 over Virginia Tech

Wisconsin -2 over Penn State

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item …

The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world

1) Overrated: Technically, just about everyone in the Nov. 29 CFP Top Four, other than Alabama
Underrated: Technically, probably, at least one team 5-through-7 in the Dec. 4 CFP Top Four

2) Overrated: The Baylor head coaching job
Underrated: Most of the other head coaching gigs the likely targeted prospects are currently at

3) Overrated: Chad Morris for that Baylor head coaching gig, potentially
Underrated: Navy 75, SMU 31, running for 496 yards and nine scores, averaging over ten yards per pop

4) Overrated: Tom Herman letting Sterlin Gilbert go
Underrated: Ed Orgeron keeping Dave Aranda

5) Overrated: Jerry Tillery
Underrated: What it felt like watching Fighting Irish football this season

Sorry if this column sucked, I wasn’t my fault …

I’m fully committed to leading this column into the future, but if my representatives want to explore other column options outside of Notre Dame, I’m listening.