Monday, December 28, 2009

Mailbag question: Upcoming bowl games

Posted at 8:00am -- 12/28/2009

Mailbag question: Upcoming bowl games


From a financial standpoint it always has been a benefit for the Big Ten to have multiple teams in the BCS games. Yet the conference’s records in those games have not been particularly noteworthy. It often seems that the second team selected (and often the first) for the BCS games have been overmatched in many of those games. This also has the negative effect of elevating other teams in the conference to bowls that are perhaps slightly above their caliber. As a consequence, the bowl record of the Big Ten has suffered over the past 5 years making it fodder for the talk show networks.

To make matters worse the Big Ten season ends so early that the teams are at a decided disadvantage when preparing for the Bowl game and they miss out on up to 10 practices. Such might be the case again this year with the elevation of Iowa to the Orange Bowl to play against Georgia Tech and all other teams bumped up to more prestigious bowl games. In truth, the match ups again don't appear to be too favorable for the Big Ten as many are projecting another 1-6 or 2-5 bowl record. What is especially perturbing is that this might have a deleterious effect on Michigan recruiting in that many teams will now label the Wolverines as the worst team in the worst conference in the Bowl Championship Conferences. Sadly, it would be difficult to argue with that assessment. In the quest for the almighty dollar, there are often unintended and adverse consequences, and that appears to be the case here. Always appreciate your comments. Thanks again.

Mike S


Thanks for the questions; an outstanding presentation/layout of the circumstances that have perhaps unjustly labeled the Big Ten as a loser conference.

Our number one rule is, with regards to college sports happenings, has not changed, follow the money! This is why the Big Ten is looking at adding another team to the conference. Money, not so much forming two divisions, or having an even number of teams to allow for every conference member to play a league game on a given Saturday during the season is the key motivator. Think of all the additional money the conference can make by having a championship game at a place like the Indianapolis Colts beautiful new arena or at the Detroit Lions "Ford Field". Also, if a team like Missouri would come into the Big Ten the championship could also be played in St. Louis. Money, money, money, and more money, the battle cry was likely originally sounded by the SEC’s monster grab of money and national attention resulting from its championship game over the last decade. Three NFL dome stadiums that would attract big crowds, create big paydays, and generate big advertising dollars is an option difficult to resist. Some would say, “What took you so long?”

In addition, the playoff participants would receive an extended week of practices, a very valuable commodity for competing with the other major conferences that stretch out the league schedule as well as having a championship game that might run into December.

The Big Ten recently has tried to ride Ohio State to glory. So, let us use recent history to detail results. Ohio State plays its final game before Thanksgiving. Some teams play and practice for the next two weeks. Then, after the championship weekend, teams will take the week off for finals, very convenient. After which, it is time for bowl practices to start.

So these teams have continuity and do not get a big thud regarding momentum. Now on to what happens with Big Ten teams that play late in the bowl schedule. Depending on where the calendar falls, Big Ten teams have a five or six week void. In that time finals must be seriously addressed, lifting and conditioning continues, but no real organized practices can occur until after the bowl destination has been determined. Then, the team must decide how to spread out the allowed practices. Ohio State practiced early this year and is taking ten days off for Christmas at home. Then, the team will gather, travel and finish off the allotted practices on the road. There are all types of momentum killers built into a scenario like the one above. There is an old saying, “You never know which team will show up for a bowl game.” That still applies, but teams that basically take only one week off, still should have a big advantage.

Some teams just do not have a great interest in minor bowls and tank out. Some teams have lame duck coaches or are in the middle of coaching changes and tank out. Some games are just bad match-ups and it appears that a tank job occurred, but in reality the team lost to superior talent.

The Big Ten has been more than willing to offer up its football and basketball teams as sacrificial lambs to collect big paydays. The Big East has collected match-ups that are very favorable and the Big Ten has match-ups, many with SEC teams, that bring forward the “uh, oh or oh, no” effect.

Michigan never has problems getting MAC schools, or other mid majors, to fill out their schedule in exchange for a great pay out. This one game can make a team more money than probably all season long at their stadium.

And so in summary to the above discussion, the bowl season is no different, getting the big money will always trump just about everything else.

We agree with your comments about the Big Ten teams in the BCS this year. We really were surprised that Iowa got in, but several teams faltered down the stretch to help the Hawkeyes get in.

It would it be nice to only have one Big Ten team in the BCS, that way the bowl match-ups might actually favor the Big Ten for once. But the Big Ten, and the collective athletic departments, will always want the money and take the beating. “Please sir, may I have another?”

This may be especially so this year, where the SEC has two teams in the BCS as well. This may have benefited the Big Ten by putting up the Big Ten’s second best team against the SEC’s third. If memory serves correctly, there are three tie-in bowls like this.

As for the negative recruiting, that is going to happen regardless of what the rest of the conference does.

Michigan has nobody to blame for the negative recruiting but itself. Going 3-9 (2-6 in Big Ten) and 5-7 (1-7 in Big Ten) the last two seasons and not becoming bowl eligible is 100% UM’s own doing. Win, and all the negative recruiting will become less effective, especially if high school coaches and high school players can see Michigan playing in a bowl game.

Honestly if a coach is not negatively recruiting Michigan right now, with its record of the past two years, he is probably not doing his job. Coaches all claim they do not recruit in this manner, but we all would be willing to bet that coaches will present favorable comparisons when it supports their sales-pitch. Essentially this is still negative recruiting.

Written by GBMW Staff

Go Blue -- Wear Maize!

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