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Sullivan's Thoughts & Prayers: Championship Week

Crowley Sullivan is a 20-year sports-media veteran having spent ten years at ESPN as a producer, programmer, content creator, business developer, and brand manager.  He now serves a EVP, Planning/GM, Sports for MandtVR, a content creation platform that emphasizes Virtual Reality initiatives.

Bother Crowley at @CrowleySullivan

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Rivalry Week

Thoughts & Prayers: Championship Week

WHAT DOES BILL FRIEDER THINK OF ALL OF THIS?
I’ve appreciated the feedback I’ve gotten from readers.

Some say I’ve been heavy-handed with commentary related to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Some suggest I’m too critical of UMAA’s head coach.

Okay.

I once suggested to Paul Hornung that he consider bathing from time to time.

THE Ohio State University and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor staged one of the all-time classic matchups of one the best rivalries in all of sports on Saturday.

It all played out under flannel Midwestern skies on a raw November afternoon.

The Horseshoe hosted more fans than at any other time in its existence.

Two of the most storied programs in the history of the sport went toe to toe and one team came out a winner, one team came up short.

And what does the head coach of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor do in response to the defeat?

He spends his entire post-game press conference stomping his feet – as he does throughout every game he coaches – whining, complaining, moaning, and expressing his “bitterness” about the officiating.

And the UMAA community continues to follow the head coach’s lead. Too many examples of this to include here since I’m under strict orders to keep this column to less than 10,000 words.

The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor takes great pride in what it means to be a “Michigan Man.”

What being a “Michigan Man” means depends on who you talk to.

Reputations and stereotypes are earned over many years and many contributions made by many people throughout many wide ranging scenarios.

And in his post-game press conference on Saturday afternoon, UMAA’s head coach demonstrated that he is, indeed, very much the perfect example of a “Michigan Man.”

THE ACTUAL GAME
JT Barrett won’t be invited to the Heisman Trophy ceremonies in New York City this year. But I’m not sure if there is a player who has been truly more valuable to his team than he has been to the Buckeyes.

Barrett carried the football 30 times for 125 yards and led Ohio State on TWO dramatic drives with the game winding down. One of those drives ended in a missed field goal and could have been the death knell.

But after Harbaugh failed to ice the game for the third time in three big games over the last two seasons – he could have iced it against Michigan State last season; he could have iced it against Iowa a few weeks ago – he tightens up when the moment becomes heavy – Barrett rolled up his sleeves and led the Buckeyes more than 80 yards to force overtime.

Barrett is a winner.

As for the issues related to the officiating –
How about UMAA’s fumbled snap inside the five-yard line?

Does anyone in Maize and Blue remember that Wilton Speight threw a pick-six?

Does anyone in Maize and Blue remember that Speight threw another interception deep in his own territory?

Does anyone in Maize and Blue know that UMAA failed to record a first down in the 4th quarters against both Iowa and Ohio State?

One football team showed guts and grit and found a way to win in Columbus.

Another team made too many mistakes and is still whining.

HOW ABOUT THEM APPLES?
One way to eliminate the need to whine about officiating is to go out and throttle your rival like UDub did.

Even The Pirate couldn’t have rationalized ripping the officials after his gang got thumped like that.

The only thing “bitter” about this year’s Apple Cup was the taste of the apple cider that accompanied all of the whiskey consumed by the Purple Reigners.

UDub – win Friday and you’re in.

If anyone out there wants to be bitter about UDub, they should call into their local gabfest radio show and commiserate with the local geniuses who host the show that nobody outside of that 25-mile radius even knows exists.

A SIMPLE FACT
Butch Jones is not a championship coach.

Nfm.

“PASSION” IS LIKE PORNOGRAPHY – HARD TO DEFINE BUT YOU KNOW IT WHEN YOU SEE IT
For all of the Michigan Men who talk about their head coach’s “passion” – those people sound like Pat Buchanan talking about how Richard Nixon was really just a victim.

Do all of the coaches who manage to not act like they just had their chocolate chip cookies taken away from them lack passion?

Serious question: when was the last time the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor was defeated in a big game and the base reacted with a simple and classy, “Congratulations to Tech U. It was a hard fought game – but those guys beat us and we wish them the best…”

THEY’LL ALWAYS BE ABLE TO BOAST ABOUT HOW THE CITY MAKES GREAT BASEBALL BATS
I’ve listened to experts talk all season long about how great Bobby Petrino’s football squad is.

For all of the fireworks, Louisville’s football team is equal in quality to its university’s academic offerings.

At least the Louisville folks can be proud of the talent, honor, and integrity of its basketball program and the basketball program’s leader.

Louisville’s ability to go from the disappointment of its football program to the bright light shining on its basketball program sort of reminds of how Cincinnati might not have the best museums – but at least the night life is good.

EDWARD R. MURROW > DETROIT REPORTER < MRS. BROCKMEYER < BILL VENA
About seven minutes into Jim Harbaugh’s post-game press conference, the coach asks the press corps what they saw on the controversial fourth down run that the officials ruled was good for a first down.

A reporter says, out loud, “Short.”

Harbaugh responds, “Short – yeah, short.”

Who in the hell is this “reporter” and how does that “reporter” look himself in the mirror?

It reminds me of the time when Mrs. Brockmeyer accused me of cheating off of Bill Vena’s test during a 7th Grade Social Studies exam.

After Brocko called me out, I turned to Vena and said, “Vena – was I cheating off of you?”

Vena looked up from his test and responded, “No way.”

I looked at Brocko and said, “I rest my case.”

DOES THE BAYONNE BLEEDER BELONG IN THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF?
As has been the case with the Louisville blabberers, Florida State College For Women has been a very chic team within College Football Playoff debates throughout the season.

Question: when a football team loses a game by the score of 63-20 (to Louisville, by the way), shouldn’t that football team have to convince America that it deserves to have the remaining games on its schedule televised?

Question: did Chuck Wepner have a legitimate argument that he should be among the top four ranked pugilists after he came up short against Ali?

THEY SAID IT
“We deserved better… Our players deserved better…”

“I am bitterly disappointed in the way this entire situation was handled…”

(One way to have cut the bitterness off at the pass would have been to have won the game.)

“You just lost us the game and I want you to know that – and I hope you bear that the rest of your life…”
(Worth paying attention to the immediate play-by-play call here, too)

“The field was improperly crowned…”

“I am bitterly disappointed – with the officiating. Can’t make that any more clear (sic)…”

These are quotes from four different UMAA head coaches over the last forty years following defeats and moments in which UMAA either lost or, in the case of 1973’s Big Ten vote to send Ohio State to the Rose Bowl after the teams tied 10-10, was on the short end of a vote.

Michigan Men.

DABO
One way to eliminate the need to whine about the officials is to beat your rival 56-7.

Yes, Dabo still has a date with Coastal champion, Virginia Tech.

The Gobblers have every intention of representing the Coastal with pride and purpose.

But Dabo is in.

BUT THE PEOPLE MOVER IS A GREAT FORM OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION…
One Detroit veteran scribe suggested in a Sunday column that Coach Harbaugh’s post-game “measured rant” was calculated since he was trying to protect his quarterback who had made some ill-timed mistakes.

Right.

Sort of like the way Detroit’s urban renewal is right around the corner from turning the town into Michigan’s version of Paris.

WISCONSIN & PENN STATE
It’s all very simple.

If UDub wins the Pac 12 Championship, the Huskies are in.

If UDub falls this Friday night, the winner of the Big Ten Championship Game will join Ohio State in the College Football Playoff.

A lot of people with drawls are pretzling themselves as they shriek at the notion of the champion of the best conference in the nation joining another team from that same conference in the playoff.

Yes, Mississippi should probably get a good, long, fair look from the Selection Committee.

But for anyone that doesn’t agree that – in addition to Ohio State – the Big Ten Conference Champion belongs if UDub doesn’t get it done, I have sympathy for you because I still think that “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” got a raw deal on Best Picture.

SMART, PROFESSIONAL PEOPLE ACTUALLY DO EXIST
We like to point out the foibles of football programs here.

We like to do this because it’s fun.

It’s also easy to do. Red meat at every turn.

We’ve had fun at the expense of the Webfoots over this season.

However, at this time, we’re going to point to a show of professionalism, a lack of unnecessary melodrama, and a swift move that is best for everyone that comes to us out of Eugene.

Unlike other circusey soap operas, this was a primer on how to handle this sort of thing.

Mark Helfrich is going to be just fine.

Helfrich showed class with his statement following his dismissal.

After he sleeps in for a few days and reminds his family of who he is, he’ll have a lot of phone calls to return because he’s a guy who earned the head coaching job at Oregon in the first place.

Kudos to the Oregon athletic department – under the leadership of Rob Mullens – for handling the situation quickly and cleanly.

Oregon didn’t waste anyone’s time. Not their fans’ time, not Helfrich’s time, and not their own time.

A year from now, when Bret Bielema needs to be handled, when Dan Mullen needs to be handled, when Butch Jones needs to be handled, when Mark Stoops needs to be handled, when Brian Kelly needs to be handled – none of those situations will be smooth.

Each one of them will be a full blown circus.

College sports needs more folks like Rob Mullens.

And to Mark Helfrich – good, solid effort over these last few years. We’ll be pulling for you at your next stop.

Enjoy the nap – you’ve earned it.

ROW THE BOAT
Keep on cranking, PJ.

We’re watching and we love it.

And you’d look nifty in neon green and hot yellow.

WHAT’S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?
Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and Washington.