Welcome once again to the Wednesday Morning Hive, the highlight of the most under-appreciated day of the week. This will be my last hive for a few weeks as I will be busy moving. After seven years of living in Michigan and dodging roving bands of Wolverines, and the occasional Spartan who forgets that we have a common enemy and are supposed to be friends, I am escaping and getting as far away from this state as possible as I have accepted a position as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Sydney in Australia. For those of you who are starting to cry at the thought of not being able to read my articles anymore, do not worry, this is not good bye, I will be back and will continue to write and cover OSU sports. Following Ohio State sport from halfway across the planet will be a challenge, and will lead to some strange sleep schedules as noon football games will start at 2am, but I look forward to the challenge. In addition to continuing with my usual Ohio State coverage, I also will be writing about what it is like following college sports in a foreign country: just how hard is it to find the games on television, how do the Australians feel about college sports, how does the OSU fanbase compare to fanbases of sports in Australia, have Michigan fans figured out how to cross the Pacific Ocean? One point to head off any questions in advance, even though I will be writing from the future (Sydney is 14 hours ahead of Columbus) my journalistic ethics prevent me from divulging the results of Buckeye games, at least unless there is a plan to make millions betting on those games in Vegas.
The Big Ten and Playoffs
The Big Ten clarified its stance on a college football playoff on Monday. Nebraska chancellor Harvey Pullman, speaking on behalf of the conference, stated “I think if Big Ten presidents were to vote today, we would vote for the status quo”, indicating that the Big Ten supported the current while further comments showed that the conference had essentially been dragged kicking and screaming into the idea of a playoff.
The fact that the Big Ten was forced to concede on the playoff pretty much removes any doubt that we will get a playoff like fans have wanted. The question now is what form will that playoff be in and will fans live to regret this. The Big Ten favors a plus-one format which would use the current bowl games to determine which two teams should advance to the title game; this isn’t really a surprise at it is the setup that most closely resembles the current BCS situation and most strongly preserves the bowl games. Perlman also stated that the conference prefers that the teams involved in the title game or the playoff be determined via a selection committee like is done in other NCAA sports.
The odds of the Big Ten getting their preferred plus-one format are slim as most of the other interested parties seem to favor a four team playoff. I suspect that the Big Ten knows this and their stated preference for the status quo and then the plus-one are merely negotiating ploys designed to help them get the aspect of the proposal that is most important to them, that the involved teams are chosen by a selection committee. The Big Ten, its coaches, and its athletic directors have routinely stated that any playoff system should factor in strength of schedule and reward conference champions, a selection committee is the best way to do this as the current poll dominated BCS method places a much higher premium on number of losses than on the strength of schedule. A selection committee is also best for the Big Ten as it diminishes the influence of the media which at least as of late seems to have favored the SEC. I don’t think that the media is out to get the Big Ten or other conferences but they do tend to favor the current hot trend and that is the SEC now, in the future that will change and the media will as well, which is all the more reason to limit their influence.
The Big Ten’s strategy of saying that they want the status quo or a plus-one now puts them in position to be able to say that they have conceded twice on the playoff format as I strongly suspect we will get a four team playoff and the Big Ten is not really that opposed to the concept. The conference can then use the argument they have conceded twice to help them draw a line-in-the-sand over the issue of the selection committee, the issue that is most important to the Big Ten’s future.
OSU Wins in the Classroom Too
In addition to excelling on the courts and playing fields, Ohio State athletes continue to do well in the classroom. The Big Ten announced that 187 OSU student-athletes were named to the Academic All-Big Ten spring and at-large squads; more than any other school in the conference (take that Michigan). For the entire year, 312 Buckeyes were named to Academic All-Big Ten lists. A record 548 student-athletes were named Ohio State Scholar-Athletes.
Special recognition has to go Maxwell Stearns. Not only is Stearns a member of the OSU fencing team which won the NCAA championship, he was also one of only 19 Big Ten student-athletes who earned a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. Congratulations to Stearns and all the other Buckeyes who understand the importance of doing well in the classroom.