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What Happened Up There?

September 3, 2007

Okay, all you people out there who are more knowledgeable than I am about college football. What the hell happened in Ann Arbor on Saturday?

I was fortunate to go to the Ohio State – Youngstown State game last Saturday, with my wife’s grandmother (long story, for another post). We had a good time, even though our tickets were halfway up C deck. During the game, there were a few notable events:

First, the aforementioned upset of Michigan. We first saw the score during the halftime score report, and people started buzzing around us. Nobody could believe that the vaunted School-Up-North could possibly be losing to a 1AA school.

Of course, Ohio State doesn’t have much room to crow, playing YSU ourselves. Schools like California and (especially) Tennessee have my respect for playing ranked opponents, especially if its on the road.

Walking out of the stadium after the game, I saw that Michigan had pulled back to within a touchdown, and figured that the scare was over, they’d pull out the victory, and the reasonable among us could smirk at a program like Michigan while silently being thankful that it wasn’t us who almost got egg on our face.

But no – somehow, while Michigan did manage to claw their way back into the lead, they also gave it away and got a last-second field goal attempt blocked. In the Big House.

Of course, the talking heads on sports radio here in Columbus were crowing about the game all evening, declaring that Michigan has no chance to play in a BCS boal now (which is ridiculous), how this was the biggest upset in college football history (which I thought was ridiculous), etc. etc. But then during the Tennessee-California game that night, I heard similar comments about the upset from Musberger and Herbstreit (who, for being a Buckeye alum, has always struck me as fairly level-headed and objective).

Which just has me wondering whether there’s anything I’ve missed in Michigan football lately. It sounds like they’ve got most of their big guns from last year back (Henne, Manningham, Hart), or at least the guys I recognize (which may not be the same thing). They’re still friggin’ Michigan, for pete’s sake – one of those programs that never rebuilds, just reloads. And I know Appalachian State is the two-time 1AA champion or some such, and that games aren’t played on paper, but…

How the heck did that happen?

The other notable event from the stadium was the hearty round of boos that greeted every promo for the new Big Ten Network. Which made me very, very happy.

I don’t mind the idea of a network to broadcast lesser-known sports like soccer, field hockey, track, and the like. The athletes who play those sports are no less admirable than the exalted who choose football or basketball, and if we can throw some love their way, fine. But its a farce to pretend that any Big Ten football game needs help getting on the air, and it sounds like extortion when that same BTN demands to be put on the basic cable package rather than a sports tier where it rightfully belongs. Ohio has no shortage of sports TV networks currently, with Fox Sports Ohio (with its separate Cleveland and Cincinnati feeds), Sports Time Ohio, Columbus Sports Network, etc – not to mention quasi-national networks like the ESPN family (including ESPNU), CSTV, and the Fox super-regionals.

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