Sam Burnham, Curator
This season has been overshadowed by a global pandemic that has hindered any sense of normalcy throughout the entire year. The upheaval has brought about scheduling that has robbed us of many traditional rivalries. Florida-Florida State, Clemson-South Carolina, and Georgia-Georgia Tech, just to name a few.
The SEC and ACC cut out their cupcake games and opted for all conference schedules that promised some powerhouse matchups. Despite the meatier schedules, 2020 has been a bit “meh.” Honestly, it’s more than a bit. Looking back over this season the best two games have been in as many weeks: an improvised BYU-Coastal Carolina game and the annual Army-Navy game. Notre Dame-Clemson gets an honorable mention since Clemson was playing without QB Trevor Lawrence.
That brings me to the topic at hand. When the Big Ten made a power play earlier this year, they expected the other Power 5 conferences to follow their lead. They were caught up in their own hype and believed themselves to be the trend setters in college football. When the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 went on with their own plans, the Big Ten was left with a choice: play a meaningless spring season alone or find a way to make the fall. Immediately sycophants in sports media began pulling their strings, paving the way for Ohio State to make the CFB Playoff.
COVID-related cancellations and the utter collapse of the Penn Stare and Michigan programs has left the Buckeyes with 5 wins. Only one of those wins came against a team with a winning record. While Georgia fans have oohed and ahed over the performance of former Bulldog QB Justin Fields, no one is mentioning that his stats didn’t come against Florida, Alabama, or Auburn.
The Big Ten made a rule when they agreed to have their fall season. A team had to have 6 contests to make it to the conference championship game. They made the rule freely. No one forced it on them. But it did build a sense of legitimacy. Thei conference champion would have played at least half a season.
That sense of legitimacy was lost when the conference (predictably) repealed the rule this past week. It leaves us with the question of whether the same decision would have been made if the roles of Indiana and Ohio State were reversed. We all know the answer to that question. We would just like to hear the Big Ten admit it.
Now comes the task of building the four team playoff. We know Alabama is in, no matter what. Notre Dame is likely in as is Clemson. A Clemson loss in the ACC Championship Game would likely put Ohio State in.
Considering the dismal post season performances the Buckeyes have had against the SEC and Clemson, what is the argument for including them? The Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina have amassed 11 wins against a tougher schedule than the Buckeyes have faced. How are they omitted?
An Iowa State victory in the Big 12 Championship should propel them well ahead of the Buckeyes. Beating Oklahoma twice and also Texas is much more substantial than anything we’ve seen in five measly games.
If we take an honest look at Ohio State’s body of work this season, we see that it’s lacking. Even Southern Cal has mustered five wins. We could compile a enormous list of teams with five wins: Georgia, Florida, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Texas, Noth Carolina, Miami. But these aren’t the best examples. You want to really know the level we’re looking at? The winner of next week’s Ole Miss-LSU game will have five wins. I don’t think anyone is going to argue that the Tigers or Rebels belong in the playoff.
So it’s time to do the right thing. It’s time to tell Ohio State that this isn’t their year. They haven’t earned it. There are more deserving teams. It’s time to exclude them from the playoff. Its time to send a proven team and Ohio State hasn’t proven anything.
Curator Sam Burnham
Game of the Week
Michigan @ Minnesota
Last season the Golden Gophers topped off an 11-2 season with a win over Auburn in the Outback Bowl. The Gophers are led by head coach P.J. Fleck who has worked hard to change the culture at Minnesota. He has employed a people-centered approach that has yielded promising results so far.
Michigan has continued to underwhelm under the leadership of Jim Harbaugh. Michigan has managed to win five straight over Minnesota but the Wolverines lost 14 starters off last year’s team.
Playing for The Little Brown Jug on opening day will give both teams extra incentive for a quick start.
The Wolverines need to execute on both sides of the ball and prove to Tim Tebow, and everyone else for that matter, that they are elite...in they in fact are. Harbaugh needs big wins to impress a fan base that is growing more and more impatient with his shortcomings.
Minnesota needs to focus on football. The off season has been filled with civil unrest and conversations about social issues and equality. Saturday is a good time to prove the team has been united rather than divided. If Minnesota has further coalesced, they will be a formidable force to be reckoned with. If they are distracted or divided, Michigan will make short work of the Gophers.
Coach’s segment will return next week.
Sam Burnham, Curator
So the Big 10...er...11...14...whatever...has cancelled their fall season. They say they’re looking at a possible spring season, you know, like the USFL or XFL. Shortly afterwards their hippie cousins in the PAC-12 made the same announcement.
No one who grew up before the BCS should be surprised. These two conferences used to be locked into the Rose Bowl and therefore could never play a power from another conference for a true national championship. If they could stay away from Oklahoma, Nebraska, Alabama, or Clemson, they could put together a strong season and claim a national championship. That’s the only way Southern Cal, Ohio State, or Michigan ever won one.
So the SEC, ACC, and Big 12(10) are saying they are going to play. Notre Dame appears poised to participate in the ACC for a season. Most of the mid-majors have cancelled. Divisions II and III have been all but cancelled by the NCAA. There will be no FCS Playoffs. So there will only be big money ball this fall.
The intriguing turn has been from schools like Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan, and Iowa. Players are coming together to say they want to play. Penn State Head Coach James Franklin tweeted out a statement declaring his commitment to “exhaust all options” for his players who want to play.
So what options do they have? These are perennial powers. Iowa is seeing a resurgence of their program. It should be noted that Minnesota and Illinois really need to play. The Gophers and Illini had great seasons and a layoff and the transfer portal could destroy that momentum. Do you temporarily join another conference? Do you form a temporary conference of your own? Does Nebraska just wander home to the Big XII for good? There’s a small window of time to answer many questions.
Before the zealots come running out screaming about “science,” ACC medical expert Dr. Cameron Wolfe says the season can be played safely. Also consider that active players are constantly under the care of trained medical staff. Team doctors and athletic trainers are always evaluating the overall health of players. There is no medical plan on Earth that can compete with what is provided for NCAA athletes. Players will be safer in season than they could ever be with the season cancelled.
if you really care about equality, you want this to succeed. It’s unpopular but just proven reality that football pays all the bills for athletic departments nationwide. Without football, all the other sports, including women’s sports, are broke.
The season is closing in. It’s going to look very different than it has in the past. Fit the teams in who want to play and let’s make this happen. The players want it, the coaches want it, the fans want it, the science supports it, and the country needs it. If you’re scared, say you’re scared. If you’re not, play ball.
We arrive at the end of the season and present our season finale of the ABG Poll. Our voters have unanimously chosen LSU as National Champions. We also received a consensus at #2 with Clemson reaching that position on all ballots. The voters appear to have been impressed with the bowl performances of Georgia and Oregon. Oklahoma? Not so much.
One item of note, we’d like to welcome Appalachian State to the Top 10 for the final poll. Congratulations on a great season, Mountaineers.
In closing, thanks to all the poll voters who keep this evil, vindictive, crazy, wild and wonderful poll going each week.
1) LSU 50 (5)
2) Clemson 45
3) Georgia 36
4) Oregon 30
5) Ohio State 29
6) Alabama 17
7) Penn State 16
8) Florida 14
9) Appalachian State 10
10) Oklahoma 9
also receiving votes: Minnesota 6, Notre Dame 6, Cincinnati 3, Oklahoma State 1, UCF 1
The Curator and other knowledgeable voices...mostly Southerners... on the subject