Sep. 29, 2016
2 Inches to Heaven or Hell
?Last Saturday we watched the #2 and #3 teams in the country battle. The contest came down to a 4th down play in double overtime. A play most cameras show was 2 inches short of a first down.
This caused a cascade of reactions. In no two places was it a bigger heaven for one and hell for another. I'm not talking about Columbus and Ann Arbor. I'm talking about the big ten home offices and the playoff section committee.
The Big Ten wanted nothing more then for Ohio State to win. The best chance the Big Ten has at two (and possibly even 3) playoff teams, came with Ohio state winning. Had Michigan won, the winner of Michigan and Wisconsin in the Big Ten champ game would have gone and that would have been it. Now the Big Ten has Ohio State that has to go, the winner of the big ten championship game (especially if it's Wisconsin) that really should go, and Michigan sitting there with an argument for going. The big ten offices must have been overjoyed.
For the committee on the other hand. This is a full out nightmare. They wanted to easily slot the Michigan - Wisconsin winner. They wanted Clemson and Washington to represent the ACC and PAC 12. If one of either, Clemson or Washington stumbled, then they could sneak Big 12 champ Oklahoma in. Now they have this. They have 5 teams that have to be in. Ohio State has to be in. If Wisconsin wins they have to be in. Alabama has to be in. If Washington wins they have to be in. If Clemson wins they have to be in. That is 5 teams right there that have to be in with only 4 slots. We haven't even talked about Michigan who can argue they should have Wisconsin's spot since they beat them head to head. If for some reason both Clemson and Washington lose, we are looking at most likely a playoff of Alabama versus the Big Ten, with Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio state all in. The Big Ten is doing cartwheels...and the selection committee is dreading facing anyone not from the Midwest.
Did the Big Ten rig this? Did they encourage the Ohio State win? Well 3 of the referees were from Ohio and had been banned from reffing Ohio State games in the past....
Let's look back at 2014. Ohio state was on the outside looking in. They needed to jump 3 spots to make the playoffs. The only possible way that would happen was if they blew out top ten ranked Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game. That game ended up being 59-0 Ohio State. Wisconsin looked like they honestly didn't show up, whispers of them throwing the game to get the eventual Champs into the playoffs were heard. Does the big ten influence outcomes to help the whole conference. We will see a test to this on Saturday. Wisconsin needs to blow out Penn state to legitimately pass both Michigan and Washington in the rankings. If the Big ten wants 2 teams in the playoffs without depending on Clemson or Washington to lose, they need Penn State to do for Wisconsin what Wisconsin is rumored to have done for Ohio State in 2014. Will we see Wisconsin blow out Penn State on Saturday? If they do, can we trust it to be honest? Or is the Big Ten just maneuvering for its own gains?