29
Aug
10

save the game.

While Mrs. Crappy and I were lounging through our island vacation, the discussion over what would happen to Ohio State’s annual game against Michigan once the conference is split into divisions apparently bubbled over, with Gene Smith, Ohio State’s AD, and Gordon Gee, the university’s president, getting buried with emailed demands that we preserve not only the annual game but also its spot as the final game of the regular season.

When my friend Kelly and I wrote about conference realignment back in June, Kelly said she assumed that keeping the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry intact would be a priority of mine, and I said she was correct. I think I assumed at that point that we wouldn’t be talking about playing the game in, say, mid-October. Different divisions? Sure, as long as we’re still playing every season — on the final weekend of the year.

The detractors are saying they don’t like the possibility of Ohio State playing Michigan on consecutive weekends, in their regular-season game and then the championship game the following week. But that makes one very large assumption, that both teams are going to win their divisions with enough regularity that their title-game appearances would become monotonous — and I think Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa or Nebraska might have something to say about that. And I seem to recall an awful lot of people suggesting that Ohio State and the Team Up North should have played a second time for the national championship after the No. 1 Bucks narrowly defeated the No. 2 Wolverines in 2006.

I can’t get through this post without writing cheesy-sounding stuff about “tradition,” but that’s what’s important here. It’s not just that we play every year, in a game that almost always has an impact on the Big Ten title; it’s that you can mark your calendar for the same time every year. It’s something that the players and the fans and the schools and both states gear up for — peaking in late November, for what is and, since the mid-1930s, when the game permanently took its season-ending spot, what always has been the biggest and most important game of the year.

Past players and coaches don’t want the date to change. The Dispatch’s Bob Hunter comes up with a good summation of what Woody and Bo would have thought of the proposal. And I don’t want it to change either.

Yes, change is coming. A new team. Two divisions. A championship game. Fine. But some things — and especially this one thing — is too big and too important to change.

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2014 schedule

Aug. 30: vs. Navy at Baltimore, noon
Sept. 6: Virginia Tech, 8 p.m.
Sept. 13: Kent State, noon
Sept. 27: Cincinnati, 6 p.m.
Oct. 4: at Maryland
Oct. 18: Rutgers, 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 25: at Penn State, 8 p.m.
Nov. 1: Illinois, 8 p.m.
Nov. 8: at Michigan State, 8 p.m.
Nov. 15: at Minnesota
Nov. 22: Indiana
Nov. 29: Team Up North
Dec. 6: Big Ten Championship

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