Ohio State, Championships and the New Murderers' Row

By DJ Byrnes on June 6, 2014 at 11:36a
55 Comments

If you like championships determined by on-the-field play and not computer algorithms, the playoffs are going to be an improvement to college football's postseason. And if somebody doesn't like the idea of the playoffs now, they will when their team is up by 14 in the fourth quarter of a playoff game.

There is, however, a reason Meyer (and elite coaches) sounded so tepid back in May 2013 (via friend of the site Tim May, with my emphasis):

“I think it’s great. I’m not complaining, and I hope we can get involved in it. I hope Ohio State is good enough,” Meyer said. “But then they’re going to want to go to eight teams, and then, ‘Let’s go 64.’ And you can’t do that with major college football. So I just worry where it stops.”

[...]

“I loved the old system,” Meyer said.

[...]

“[The 2007 BCS title game] felt like the Super Bowl,” Meyer said. “It was the coolest thing for our players, the fans, to be a week removed from all the bowl games. And I thought it was the answer.”

(In November of last year, after Baylor jumped Ohio State, Urban would go on to call the BCS "a flawed system.")

What I found interesting wasn't Urban comparing a championship game to the end product of a football tournament or the "four teams to sixty-four teams overnight" strawman, but rather, thinking bout the path to get there.

Coaches, and this is just conjecture from a man who has yet to shower today, strike me as creatures of habit. Urban Meyer, Les Miles, Nick Saban... these guys' habits are more polished than a lapidary's favorite stone.

Urban Meyer didn't like the idea of the playoffs for the same reason HE diDN'T recruit at MUDVAYNE concerts: It's unfamiliar territory.

One of Urban's Bowling Green players once told me every practice under Meyer felt like it was the Super Bowl. That's a season-long tightrope act that would make Cliff Calverly take a deep breath.

And it's a tightrope act that just grew longer by another game... a massive game at that.

Look at the murderer's row Ohio State will have to navigate in order to capture their first title since 2002:

  • The Game
  • Big Ten Championship Game
  • Semi-Finals
  • Finals

That's four Super Bowl-like environments. It's also a four-game stretch that no Ohio State team has ever had to navigate.

Urban's 2006-2007 Florida team ended their season against unranked Florida State, No. 8 Arkansas and No. 1 Ohio State. Showing rivalry games can never be discounted, it was unranked Florida State that gave the Gators the best game (before falling 21-14).

That stretch wouldn't have been enough to win the Gators a title next January. They still would had another elite opponent — Michigan or LSU — on the docket.


It's no secret Urban Meyer leads his team through fire and high-strung energy. One of my biggest questions is: Can he maintain that over a season, yet save his team's crescendo for the season's end?

After all, Ohio State and other programs that end their season against a detestable arch-nemesis, have a built-in disadvantage going into the playoffs.

Buckeye fans are almost as demanding as they are loyal, and the expectations of Urban's reign are at an all-time high. What we'll have to remember, though, is that the difficulty of the path to that fabled land (that Ohio State has only tasted seven times since 1890) is also at an all-time high.

I there's a reason why Urban Meyer is the highest-paid employee in the state.

55 Comments

Comments

yrro's picture

That's the thing about a tournament - it doesn't determine the best team.

What it does is provide a clear and definitive path to earning your title, and proving that you were at least a really really good team to make it through the gauntlet.

+11 HS
GVerrilli92's picture

Which is much more credible than a computer ranking.

How many cheeseburgers are you gunna drive into that dirty old cheeseburger locker Brady Hoke?

+1 HS
hit_the_couch's picture

If ttun is gonna be considered part of 'murderer's row' then they better step it up. I know last year was a 1 point game, but if tOSU had anything that remotely resembling close to an average pass D, it would have been a completely different story.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

+5 HS
bucknasty13's picture

...and if ttun were better, we would have lost.  It absolutely should be considered part of "murder's row".  It doesn't necessarily matter how good these teams are, they are going to fight until the end.

+7 HS
hit_the_couch's picture

Navy fought till the end a few years ago; I guess they should be placed there too, huh.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

-5 HS
USMC11917's picture

I consider that Navy team in 2009 as a very formidible and worthy victory. They were no pushover. We were in control throughout that game and made it closer than it should have been but they were talented and capitalized on our mistakes and lack of effort at the end.

+3 HS
lsjSnail's picture

Now you just took a whole different illogical path there.

-1 HS
yrro's picture

That particular Navy team went 10-2. So yeah, that year they should have been.

For as much as everyone talked about how bad our schedule was that year, we beat 5 10-win teams -- more than any other team in the country.

+3 HS
GVerrilli92's picture

As for *ichigan, what he's saying is that we were good enough (coupled with them being bad enough) to take the wind out of their sails with a couple of seriously average defensive plays. A football game is too long to just will yourself to victory, even with all the momentum in the world at some point you have to be good.

That was our worst team performance of the year in a win. I think we proved that they weren't very good.

How many cheeseburgers are you gunna drive into that dirty old cheeseburger locker Brady Hoke?

Johnny_Buck71's picture

UM should absolutely be considered part of the equation. The murderers row aspect is the gravity of the game, independent of record. Every single one of us looks at that game as extremy important. Every coach, player, fan knows that game is special. Following that up with conference chanpionship, then the playoffs in special years, yeah, I think that is pretty awesome experience for 20 year olds to endure. The Game remains. 

A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore. - Yogi Berra

+4 HS
hetuck's picture

1. I favor an eight-team playoff and stop there. Team#9 doesn't have a valid claim to be #1; team#5 may. I'd also contract the regular season by a game to facilitate the extra playoff round. 2. OSU will always be at a geographical disadvantage. Assume you run the above-listed gauntlet. You then are slated for the Rose Bowl. Win that and you lose a day returning to Columbus. I recall Urban talking about this and saying the coaches would go to the mattresses. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

+5 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture

I agree. 8 teams with the top 4 playing at home in the first round, starting the week before Christmas sounds pretty good to me. This year, it could be:

#1 FSU vs. #8 Mich. St at the Doak

#2 Bama vs. #7 UCLA/Stanford in Tuscaloosa

#3. OSU vs. #6 Auburn at The Shoe

#4 Oregon vs. #5 Oklahoma at Autzen

Are you telling me THAT wouldn't sell tickets and get massive ratings?!?

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

+16 HS
ITWASME's picture

OSU vs Auburn. Now THAT would be a game!

+3 HS
buckeyedude's picture

Especially in the Shoe in December. Wow.

 

 

+3 HS
Toilrt Paper's picture

The SEC would NEVER allow it.

hetuck's picture

I like it all except the timing. Is the season over for the losers? That's why I'd shorten the regular season by a game, play the conference title games on the last Saturday in November, and your match ups on the first Saturday in December. Then the losers would be eligible for a non-playoff bowl experience. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

+2 HS
Knarcisi's picture

I've been talking about an 8 team playoff with first round home games for the top 4 seeds for years. Semis and finals are 3 bowls. 4th bowl rotates out and takes 9 vs 10. Keeps emphasis on the regular season. Money in it for the schools. Keeps the B10 from playing road games if in the top 4 like we do for bowls. And let's face it, 2/3 of all the bowls stink and 1/2 of the NFL games have no meaning at that point. 

+1 HS
Menexenus's picture

If #9 does not have a legitimate claim to be national champion, but #5 may, then why not favor a 6 team playoff instead of 8? I saw this suggestion a lot back when the CFB playoff was first suggested.

For example, you could have #3 vs. #6 in the Orange Bowl and #4 vs. #5 in the Fiesta Bowl. Then a week later you would have #1 vs. Fiesta winner in the Rose Bowl and #2 vs. Orange winner in the Sugar Bowl.  Finally, you would have the Rose winner vs. Sugar winner in the National Championship.

This system preserves the BCS bowl system while also giving the fans the playoff they've been clamoring for.  And let's face it, if you are #7 or lower after the regular season, you don't have much claim on a national championship anyway. 

Real fans stay for Carmen.

+2 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture

Basically, what the NFL does.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

GVerrilli92's picture

I don't understand why everyone is so afraid of college football looking like the NFL. The pageantry and passion is inherent, you aren't going to take the buzz out of Saturday mornings on the Olentangy just because the post season looks a little different. So let's use a system that works. 

My main complaint of the current system is that we're pretending that about 60 teams could win a championship, when they can't. BSU played at .900 for 4-5 seasons and didn't get a single chance at a title. Hell, I'm almost positive that Minnesota could win the B1G outright and still not get a chance to play for a title. What is the point of that? Why don't we stop lying to ourselves and the fans and rewrite the entire format. Put the 60 teams that legitimately stand a chance to win a title in a league of their own. Have 6 divisions/conferences of 10 teams with a single champion-representative from each. National rankings determine the top 2 seeds and they get the first round bye. Name the playoff games after the old BCS bowls. Redistribute bowl earnings to conferences. More money for the power programs that even have a shot anyways.  THIS. JUST. ISN'T. HARD.

How many cheeseburgers are you gunna drive into that dirty old cheeseburger locker Brady Hoke?

theopulas's picture

 one should get a bye week....6 doesn't work....

Theopulas

Brutus1972's picture

The next best answer to an eight team playoff. Unfortunately I think a team that is worthy of the playoff would still be susceptible to being left out because of perception.

osu78's picture

Eight super conferences solve the #9 problem since each conference champ would advance.

yrro's picture

Agreed. That's my biggest problem with the current system - given how little cross-conference play there is, you should have to win your conference to get in.

I don't care if the second best team is from the SEC, they didn't win their conference, they are already eliminated as a possible best team.

+1 HS
OSUFlash's picture

I just don't see the Buckeyes making the final 4 unless they're undefeated or have a very impressive 1 loss record. Having 2 losses will never make it no matter who you are. If it ever goes to 8 teams we should be in it almost every year.

osuflash

+2 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture

Outside of craziness happening, OSU probably does have to run the table, based on perception. Unless of course they face an undefeated Wisconsin in the B1G Championship game, then all bets are off.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

Shangheyed's picture

I think if any major conference team goes undefeated they will be in more than just the conversation...

hetuck's picture

Conference realignment is done except possibly for the B12. There is no football czar to force realignment. If the NCAA says you don't need twelve teams to have a conference title game, there is no way they will expand to dilute the pot. That's why you see BYU and Central Florida bitching this week. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

Hovenaut's picture

I don't mean to come off like a huge d-bag, but it's long overdue for the good guys to return to B1G glory.

I don't mean to overlook The Game either.

So let's presume OSU makes it through Navy, September and October. Emerges victorious from East Lansing November 8, "survives" at Minny the following weekend, then closes out Indiana and the Fighting Hokesters at home to close the regular season.

Urban and company then take on the survivor of the wild west (I'm thinking Iowa will be there, and I don't know why) and finally recapture that elusive B1G title.

Onto to the playoffs (yes, Jim Mora, Sr...I said it), where the good guys are probably staring down the likes of Oklahoma, Bammer, FSU, Oregon or whoever rises up and surprises the college football world this season.

I also hope to see an eight team setup very soon. Nonetheless, every game counts more than ever for college football.

Hate Week runneth over

+7 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

I don't see where anything you just said would make you sound like a huge d-bag.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

+3 HS
BuckeyeVet's picture

@HOVE - I'd like to see an 8 team playoff. Here's how it would go if I was king : THE Game last week of November, 2 weeks before the B1G championship game; then 2 weeks before the playoffs start. The conference champions of the B1G, PAC10, Big 8, ACC, Big East, SEC, and 2 other teams in a BCS kind of selection committee. They can be independents or league runner-ups. That preserves the importance of the regular season, and if you can't win or place 2nd in your conference, you shouldn't go. The higher ranked teams get a home game for the 1st (& possibly 2nd) round.

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."          - Groucho Marx

 

+1 HS
theopulas's picture

don't think there should be home games....use the bowl system...the playoffs would start the weekend of X-mas and end the 2nd weekend in January

Theopulas

Shangheyed's picture

Seasons used to be a 10 game season.... now 12... Thursday games... Conference championships...  I just worry we may just turn this into a business if we start a playoff system with 8 teams and bowls(or are you thinking no bowl games?)  :-P

+2 HS
Buckeye Knight's picture

I'm with Meyer in that I hope it NEVER goes beyond an 8 team playoff.  A 4 or 8 team playoff still keeps the best regular season in sports very meaningful. 16+ teams would be too many teams for this sport at this time.

+2 HS
buckeyepastor's picture

I don't think any sane person would think about a 64 team playoff.  But I do think that sometime in the next 2 years we'll start to hear schools that are perennially "on the cusp" (Stanford, Oregon, Georgia, ND, Oklahoma) begin to clamor for 8 teams to have a shot at the title.   And I think we all know that if there's money to be made from it (and there usually is) that the NCAA will consider it.   I can't remember a season where there were 8 teams who really seemed worthy of a title shot.   But when we're already at four teams, with the first hint of controversy, the first time we have, for instance, a #1 that is on a whole other level and a half dozen also-rans with similar resumes, we'll have calls for 8 teams.   And while I know that the playoffs for Division II and III add several games to a champion's schedule and they manage it just fine, going to 8 teams in big-time college football is really too much.   

I think coaches also tend to favor the system that's been good to them.  The BCS, for all its detractors, was pretty good to Tressel and OSU.  It worked out well for Urban Meyer at Florida.   Until Cam Newton, it was a travesty for the people at Auburn.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

+1 HS
original buckeye's picture

"I there's a reason why Urban Meyer is the highest-paid employee in the state."

Beyond missing a word at the beginning of the sentence, it's also incorrect that Meyer's the highest paid employee in the state.  I think you meant to say he's the highest paid state employee in the state.  Otherwise, good article.

+1 HS
BuckeyeVet's picture

Dude, DJ's from Marion. Gonna burn your house down, you keep correcting him like that.

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."          - Groucho Marx

 

-1 HS
You can't spell chump without UM's picture

Everyone wants an 8 team playoff; I'd honestly rather have it at 6 teams, so that the top 2 teams can have a first round bye like in the NFL, so that there is still relevance of being #1 or #2. I wouldn't mind 8 teams at some point, I just think a 6 team playoff at some point for some amount of time would be a great playoff setup as well.

Brady Hoke ate my comment

+6 HS
Menexenus's picture

I'm with you. 6 teams is better than 8.

Real fans stay for Carmen.

+1 HS
McFate's picture

The analysis of "the gauntlet" also has to include an analysis of the ease of getting into the playoff.  It's a natural reaction to think that an MNC recently became twice as hard to get (win B1G title game) and will become twice harder yet (win first round of 4-team playoff).  But that's not so, in my view.

Let's say that Ohio State has a uniform 10% chance to finish each of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th (in the BCS rankings or selection committee's view) after the B1G title game.

Under the old BCS system, they'd have a 20% shot to get into the final game, since 1st and 2nd always get straight into that game and 3rd and 4th are always left out.  In the new system they'd be 40% to get into the 4-team playoff, and if they had a 50-50 shot of winning the first round, they end up with the same 20% to get into the final game.

Unless one hypothesizes a fairly strange probability distribution (e.g., "much more likely to finish 1st-2nd than 3rd-4th, but at the same time less likely than 50-50 to win the first round game") the size of the playoff is pretty much irrelevant to the odds of winning the title.  In the end there's still exactly one MNC per year, so they haven't become any scarcer.

As a tangent:  Similarly, the B1G title game may seem like it makes it hard to win B1G titles, but it depends on how you look at it.  It is now easier to win outright B1G titles (there is now one every single year, so they have become less scarce).  There's no longer a straight equivalent to a shared B1G title, though based on total number of co-champs over the recent pre-Nebraska years, a berth in the B1G title game could be considered roughly equivalent (and "division co-champ" far easier) if you're trying to compare success across eras.

TossTrap's picture

I wondered when the B1G decided to leave OSU vs UM as the last game of the season if that was a good thing for the chances of a national championship for our Buckeyes. As Wayne Woodrow used to say, the game against Michigan left his team so emotionally spent that even a bowl game was upon many occasions a letdown.

It will be very rare for the Buckeyes to face and beat their hated rival then be on top of their game the next week for the B1G championship game. But now we would be forced to play two more games to win a national championship.

Anyone else guessing that it won't be long before Nick suggests changing the date of the Auburn vs Alabama game?
 

First and goal at the five and Arch is getting the ball.

+1 HS
buckskin's picture

True, this is a tough road to the title, but outside of the Game, most every other school would have to go down this same path to also win a NC.  The SEC, ACC, and PAC 12 all have conference title games to win and some of the teams in these conferences also have historically challenging rivalries that end their regular season.  A big 12 school would be the only team to not have to deal with a conference title game.  Isn't this what we want though?  2002 was all the more special because we were the first team to finish 13-0 through a tough B1G schedule and then beat "the greatest college football team of all time" in the title game. 

I can't understand the logic that states a tournament (playoffs) don't determine the best team.  If you win every game, you are the best team.  If playoffs do not, what then does determine it:  a poll, computer, or stats on paper?  I'd rather it be determined on the field. 

IMO, the playoffs should expand to 8 teams and then stop.  The way it stands now, the team ranked 5th and misses out on the playoffs could have a legitimate and credible argument as to why they should be included (such as in the extremely rare case that 5 teams finish the regular season undefeated).  If it was expanded to 8, no one is going to listen to the 9th ranked team.  In most cases that team would have 2 loses anyway.  I personally believe this playoff will explode in popularity, just like the NFL playoffs and March Madness. 

 

+1 HS
osu407's picture

With the exception of potential injuries, the OSU team that makes it through that stretch will be very tough and in shape for a championship game. Hopefully this makes the likelihood of losing a championship game by being out of game shape (remember how long the gap between the Michigan game and the national championship used to be) far less likely. 

-1 HS
RedStorm45's picture

They still would had another elite opponent — Michigan or LSU — on the docket.

Have?  And Michigan got housed by USC in the Rose Bowl, right?

 

Must be a slow off-season day if we're digging up quotes from 13 months ago to write a story on a subject that has been known since it was announced the BCS would be replaced by a 4 team playoff.  Not that I'm complaining, but is there anything new here or is this simply off-season filler? (I want to make sure my reading skills are still ok since I'm on some pain meds)

-2 HS
SaltyD0gg's picture

I think you mean the highest paid state employee. Guessing there are a few people in the state pulling down more than UFM.

Pain of Discipline
Pain of Regret
Take Your Pick

Jbucks's picture

LEYS START THE PLAYOFF RIGHT!!! if we win the inagrual playoff championship the SEC would promplty be knocked down a peg!
can say Wiscy (now that MSU in our conference) & OSU make playoffs?

Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it-John 1:5 SEC meet Ohio State, Ohio State meet SEC

Jbucks's picture

umm I thought this was an OSU thread... how can I say lets win this championship & be DV'D? ... yea that makes sense

Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it-John 1:5 SEC meet Ohio State, Ohio State meet SEC

Curt Heinrichs's picture

Long live Mudvayne!

I saw Hellyeah a few years ago in Cleveland and was impressed by their live show, but their albums are disappointing after the self-titled one. 

 

I want the playoffs to expand to an 8 team format so I can ignore bowls like the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl and the Pinstripe Bowl in favor of games of importance. 

airbuckeye's picture

It does not matter if its four or eight because Espin will push the SEC on the voters which have shown how bias and easly they can be persuaded to vote. So no matter how it many games they go to it will be favored to the SEC know matter how they set it up.

 

+1 HS
Brutus1972's picture

8 Teams, 6 Conference Champions and 2 at-large bids. Shorten the regular season by a game or two and make it happen. It's too easy and I have no idea why anyone would argue with it. Higher seeds get the home game for the first round of the playoffs and rotate the former BCS Bowls for the remaining 3 games.  I wouldnt need to see early season OOC games if we had an 8 team playoff to settle it at the end of the year. This makes the Conference Championship paramount on a yearly basis which makes the regular season just as important as ever. The only thing stopping this scenario is the $ lost by the former BCS bowls who would be left out of the first round games. They could get their names on it, they would just have to be willing to travel and coordinate the event on a year to year basis. The $ would be the same or better but they're too lazy to recreate the coordination required to put it on in a new location every year.

+1 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture

Maybe 5 conference champs, 3 at-large. "American" champions do not deserve an automatic birth IMO.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

buckeyedude's picture

It's going to be a very tough road to the national championship.  But the good thing is, is that it's going to be tough for ANY team, no matter what conference you're in, to get there. My only fear is does a one-loss OSU(or any B1G championship team for that matter) have a shot, given perceptions, to make the 4 team playoff.

One other thing: I know a lot of us fans, myself included, bitch about SEC teams not coming north to play very often, and with the bias the ranking system has in it, I still see many B1G teams having to go south to play in a very hostile environment on their turf. Bowl games are mostly in the south and west, which does give teams from there a slight home-field advantage, and I still see that as a problem in any 4 or 8 team playoff.

They play Super Bowls in the north in the NFL, why not NCAA?

 

 

causeicouldntgo43's picture

"They play Super Bowls in the North in the NFL, why not the NCAA?"

Agree - reminds me of the famous quote (to paraphrase) "Some see things as they are and say, why? I see things as they could be and say, why not?" I think it was Bobby Kennedy, but it could have been a very young Jim Delaney.

aerobuck's picture

tough road for OSU?  sure.  How about the SEC path?  Rivalry game, SEC championship game, semi finals, finals.

Blackbeards Delight's picture

The home playoff would also save fans some cash. I know I won't be able to hit up New Orleans one week, Pasadena the next, and then Jerry World for the NCG. That's not realistic for most fans. Nor should BIG fans have to be the ones constantly asked to travel (thousands of miles) and fuel mainly southern economies. 

Crunchy Peanut Butter Bitches.

- Me

 

+2 HS