Wednesday, September 01, 2010

And the demise of college football is complete...

...or not.

I think the people who are going over the cliff at the news that Ohio State and Michigan will be placed in different divisions once the Big-10 expands to 12 teams next year need to relax.

Really relax.

One of the greatest rivalries in college football is not about to be obliterated. It is not about to become perverted beyond repair. It is not going to be ruined.

The Buckeyes and Wolverines have played their final regular season game against each other for decades. Often that game has decided which team is crowned as conference champion. The doomers-and-gloomers tonight are wailing. They are trying to convince you that because the teams are in different divisions and as a result could play against each other earlier in the season that somehow the rivalry will mean less in the future.

Hogwash.

In fact, the teams could continue to play their last regular season game in either Columbus or Ann Arbor, but no matter it will not be for a championship. Granted, the winner could go on to play in the conference's championship game but because of the two divisional alignment that team has no guarantee of winning the title.

When you consider the elite rivalries in college football, that game belongs in the conversation. So, too, does USC and Notre Dame, and I mention these schools for an important reason -- when the game is played.

When the Trojans host, it takes place at the end of the regular season (and typically on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend). But when the Fighting Irish are hosts, the game falls smack-dab in the middle of the college football season -- the third Saturday of October.

I never hear anyone crying that the October date minimizes the importance of the game or detracts from the national championship aspirations of either team. Moreover, I never hear anyone suggest that the November date enhances the game's importance.

That's because the date doesn't validate the rivalry -- the long-standing traditions and histories of the programs make the rivalry great. For every great moment that a Notre Dame fan can relish and rub in the face of a USC fan, there is one for a USC fan to remember and rub in the face of a Notre Dame fan.

That's the way it should be.

I suppose the "political" pressure to schedule the Buckeyes and Wolverines will be so great that some inane politician in either Ohio or Michigan will introduce legislation mandating a November meeting. As soon as that happens, I'll be among the first to support the man or woman who seeks to replace that politician in the next election cycle.

I could care less when the Buckeyes and the Wolverines butt heads. I'll likely be watching it. That's because I'm a fan. If you are, too, then you'll agree with me.

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