Since we've already jumped ahead to selecting venues in preparation for the foregone conclusion that is a Big Ten conference championship game, I thought I better hurry and add my two cents about this whole shootin' match. Admittedly, my take is shaped in what I think are the best interests of Ohio State football.
I have a feeling I stand alone but I just don't get it. I wasn't in favor of expansion to begin with and though Nebraska is a solid program to add, the growing likelihood that all the super conference prognostications probably won't happen as soon as predicted now that Texas has saved what's called the Big 12 furthers my disdain for what has occurred.
It seems as if keeping up with the Joneses and adding at least one team so the Big Ten could stage a conference championship game was at least a significant reason for expansion but what's to gain? The obvious answer is money since that drives the world as we know it but at what cost? As Buckeye fans, why are so many of you excited for this?
One obvious downfall is the loss of luster on The Game. I know many will be quick to point out the recent lopsidedness of the rivalry but we both know that Michigan will be back just as OSU recovered from 2-10-1. I was raised to believe Ohio State vs. Michigan should always be the last game of the conference slate. Assuming OSU and Michigan land in the same division, most regular seasons will not end the way I was taught to expect. Just as bad, what if Michigan lands in the opposite division, the rivalry is played, resulting in a rematch the following week in the conference championship? I'm sure some are salivating over that possibility but I hate that the finality of the Game could be replaced. This isn't Yankees/Sox. Part of the greatness of the OSU/Michigan rivalry is that you only get it once a year.
Another fact I'm lukewarm on is expansion causing two divisions (plus a conference championship game) which further unbalances the schedule. I'm surprised more fans don't seem bothered by this since a complaint under the current setup is the fact a true round robin isn't completed. With the advent of a conference championship, adding at least one more team to the fold, and no solid reason to believe non-conference games will be reduced to allow for a true round robin, this problem is exacerbated. For people to excuse it due to the creation of two divisions is puzzling to me.
One more troubling argument for a championship game feeds into the Joe Pa notion that the Big Ten falls off the radar due to a lack of December football. I call shenanigans - at least from an Ohio State point of view. How exactly has not playing in December hurt OSU thus far? Further, playing an additional game, which would obviously be in December, provides one more opportunity for a team to lose. Why play the game if you don't have to? Until there is a playoff, the goal is to finish in the top 2 of the BCS standings to earn your shot. If a program like Ohio State (and others) finishes the regular season undefeated, albeit before some other schools and their conference championship game, they will almost undoubtedly earn a spot in the BCS championship game.
Whats to say that extra game would even push Ohio State over the top if there's three (or more) undefeated teams from power conferences when the smoke clears anyway? You could argue it would but what if it's an all too common scenario like we've seen in the Big 12 and SEC in which a heavy favorite is playing a decided underdog. What would OSU really gain? If anything, they'd stand to lose ground in the rankings for playing a lesser foe (SOS) and maybe not blowing them out as expected. Check the Big 12 championship game history. It's almost shocking how often the game is a rankings mismatch essentially putting the truly deserving team in position to play a game that can only hurt them unless the heel stomp a foe ranked in the teens or not ranked at all. Since 2000, Texas or Oklahoma found themselves ranked in the AP's top four on seven different occasions but never played a team ranked higher than 8th. Five matchups came against teams ranked 19th (twice), 20th (once) or unranked (twice). Boy, that's good TV. Definitely worth the x-million dollars to put your conference's elite team at risk of playing one more game to potentially jeopardize their national title hopes and the amount of extra dollars that comes with it by being unprepared to play.
Now it's your turn. Sound off on where you stand and why. I'm very interested in what I expect to be numerous counter arguments so fire away.