This post is really a direct response to the one Mike had up for a day before replacing it with this copout lameness. I'm responding to arguments he and others have made for selecting Anyone But Michigan to play Ohio St. in the BCS Championship game.
If anyone saw my response to Mike's original post before he totally copped out like a lame-o, I'll basically be making the exact same rebuttals. (A pox on Mike's house for making me redo my work!)
Sez them: USC beat Notre Dame, and Notre Dame rules! They won't possibly lose to UCLA (...will they?), so why are you even bringing this up?! Stop making everything so complicated!
Sez Vinnie: Well, yeah, USC probably will beat UCLA and hold the #2 spot, rendering this Michigan issue a non-issue.
But should it be this way? Sez Vinnie (you know--in case you missed it the first time): Heeeyy-ll no!
Now hold on--I'm not making a thorough case for Michigan over USC. I'll leave that to people who pay more attention to college football. I'm simply arguing that a loss should not automatically warrant a drop in the polls, nor should a marquee win automatically warrant a jump in the polls. Yet in practice, the voting always seems to work out this way, and it always has.
The same happens in college hoops, too, but seriously--who cares? That's college hoops rankings. Football rankings actually count for something. Unfortunately, voters still seem to overreact to the short-term--even late in the season when it's all the more crucial to re-evaluate each team's entire body of work on a weekly basis.
Yet I think this thought process is lacking. And I think that's the exact reason why USC is where they are right now.
Sez them: Other teams besides Michigan have only one loss. Take them! Take them!!
Sez Vinnie: Good for those other teams.
The simple fact remains: Subjectivity is an indisposable part of this process. The idea of eliminating--or even minimizing--subjectivity when comparing the results of a mere twelve games against vastly different schedules is pretty laughable, in my opinion. So the best we can do is conduct our due dilligence *five points for corporate buzz term!* and subjectively determine who among these teams is second-best.
Really, all the BCS does anyway is compile a bunch of subjective measures with a few inconsequential objective ones, spits out a number, and carries it to the fourth decimal place. And we take this as somehow more "scientific."
Well, I guess it does have numbers. Too bad they're most impacted by this obligatory impulse to drop and hike teams on a whim.
Sez them: Michigan had their chance to beat Ohio St. And they lost! That's right--They. Lost. Period!
Sez Vinnie: You know, you're right! Michigan did play Ohio St. already. How about that?
Too bad we're debating who belongs in the BCS Championship game and NOT whether Michigan deserves some staged rematch against Ohio St. So yeah, that Ohio St. game a couple weeks ago? Irrelevant! That's right, irrelevant. What is relevant? Michigan's win-loss record, Michigan's strength of schedule, USC's W-L, USC's SOS, etc.
Think about how absurd this is for a second. What people are basically saying is the following: USC is somehow more deserving, in part, because of the fact that their only loss came to Oregon St. and not to Ohio St. That is bonkers.
The fact that Michigan would be playing the same team that accounted for their only loss is purely coincidental. I repeat,
Under relevant criteria for selecting the most deserving team to play in the BCS Championship, I don't think "have already played the other guys" appears, nor should it.
Also, as if the whole argument weren't B.S. enough, I'm growing quite sick of people trying to downplay the fact that Ohio St. beat Michigan on their homefield. I realize that I've already branded this discussion irrelevant, but this deserves mentioning. Do people seriously not get how important homefield advantage is in college sports? How can anyone believe that a three-point homefield win demonstrates even a semi-significant degree of superiority over an opponent?
So if the totally agreed-upon #1 team is--by best indication--only marginally better or evenly matched with another team, shouldn't that other team be regarded in nearly the same standing as the #1 team? It only makes sense to me.
Sez them: But...but...what if--What if they do play each other again and Michigan beats them this time, and then we have the two best teams each with only one loss--to each other! Ahhhh!!! And they're from the same conference! And both really really good!... Oh, the humanity!!!
Sez Vinnie: That would kick ass.
Sure, it would be a confusing mess of a dead-end debate, but then again, the system is the system. And there's no perfect system. And if that's how it's gonna be, then that's how it's gonna be.
What's more important? A champion that 967 out of 1,000 randomly polled college football fans can agree upon or making sure the right teams get their shot? I don't know; I guess that's a debatable issue in itself, but I would stick with the latter option...Sez me.
Furthermore, let's say Michigan does play Ohio St. again and does win this time. And say they're crowned as the sole national champ on the strength of this win, even though it comes against the same Ohio St. team that beat them earlier in the season. Think now--Would this really be such an outrage?
Why do we so readily accept the fabricated be-all-end-all significance of final games or series in other sports yet so vehemently denounce it in college football? Were this the NFL and the winning Super Bowl team had lost to their Super Bowl opponent earlier in the season, would anyone give a flying fugazi? Absolutely not. In fact, I'm guessing this situation has occurred at least once in the past, but you know what--I really couldn't tell you. Because if it has happened or were to happen, nobody would care. (And double-guess what--I'm not gonna bother to look up whether it has! So there.)
What's different about college football's "big game"? It's not the product of some bogus playoff system? Uh, I'd hate to burst everyone's bubble, but as far as valuating teams by their "true" merits, most playoff systems suck bigtime. Remember a little something about a month back called the 2006 World Series? Right. How about Bucknell over Kansas? We pretend that the winners of these contests are better, but come on--deep down we all know that these playoffs are a farce.
If a "true" championship game is what people want, the subjective selection process--I'd argue--actually prevents more inadequacies of playoff systems (e.g. fluke wins, bad breaks, etc.) than it creates of its own limitations. Rather than exposing the best teams to the single-game random deviations from norm abilities over and over again before a big final game, college football says, "Ok, here's twelve games to analyze. How good is this team? How about compared to that one? And that one?"
At the end of the process, we may have a #2 team that hypothetically only has a 52% chance of beating the #3 team and only a 60% chance of beating the #7 team, but we still pin down a "true" #2. Obviously, this precision is impossible, but put in the right hands, the subjective selection process still produces a "true" #1 vs. #2 championship game more effectively than a playoff would.
But now I've gone way off topic.
Back to the original point. I think people are grasping for reasons that should preclude Michigan making the BCS Championship, simply because they don't want to see it happen. As far as I can tell, these reasons have little to do with the rules in place and even less to do with fairness. They'll probably get their wish because USC has that #2 BCS spot.
But part of me would love to see UCLA win because I really don't believe Michgan has gotten a fair shake. Sez me.