Michigan didn’t deserve to jump MSU for BCS bowl

While the SEC celebrated its monopolization of the only bowl that really matters, the state of Michigan chose sides in debating who was more deserving of the BCS at-large crumbs — the team that could sell the most tickets or the team that had the better season?

Michigan got a little Sugar.

And that no doubt turned Michigan State sour.

It wasn’t fair that the Wolverines leapfrogged into a BCS at-large invitation while sitting idle over the weekend because they weren’t good enough to win the Legends Division.

But since when has any inherently political selection process used fairness as a component?

The Wolverines go to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans because they can sell tickets and hopefully lure nonpartisans to their high-definition televisions Jan. 3 against Virginia Tech out of a fond remembrance of what Michigan football once was.

If college football actually cared about fairness, it would de-emphasize the vast influences of the major bowls to erect a system that actually rewarded teams that persevered through the ebbs and flows of a three-month marathon. But college football has never really been about the higher ranked, but rather the higher revenues.

The Spartans accepted their consolation Sunday, a date with Georgia in the Outback Bowl at Tampa. Although, how anyone could consider playing against the SEC as a prize is beyond me.

MSU said all the right things Sunday, looking forward to the next challenge for a program that still can accomplish a goal this season — actually winning its last game. But the Spartans clearly still licked their wounds from 24 hours earlier in Indianapolis, when they lost a trip to Pasadena they felt should have been theirs.

In hindsight, it certainly appears that the controversial running-into-the-punter penalty that iced the victory for Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game shouldn’t have occurred. Replays clearly showed that a Wisconsin blocker pushed Isaiah Lewis into the punter. The flag should have been picked up.

Coach Mark Dantonio discussed following the game that for the second straight year his program established its BCS worthiness. That’s true on the field, but the Spartans still suffer greatly in overall brand recognition. They basically are powerless to do anything about it until the BCS collapses and an equitable playoff system emerges in its place that doesn’t care if historically pedestrian Oklahoma State and Kansas State are ranked in the final top 10.

It’s no mystery why U-M got a BCS nod. The bowls believe tradition sells. The BCS desperately needed a name, any name — even one somewhat rusted after Rich Rodriguez.

Look at the available names. The SEC could qualify only two teams, Texas fell out of the national rankings, Oklahoma had the misfortune of playing a 13th game, Southern Cal is on an NCAA-prescribed bowl banishment, Ohio State stunk, and Notre Dame still exists in a matrix in which it’s a national player.

Honestly, the Big Ten didn’t deserve a second BCS bid. It was ranked fourth overall among the six major conferences. But Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany no doubt threatened to hold his breath until he turned blue unless his conference got a second team — as well as the subsequent fat multimillion check.

The Spartans will sulk, but they weren’t jobbed.

The bowl selection procedure isn’t fair. It was never intended to be fair. It was never intended to reward. It was meant to produce the most profits possible regardless of the quality of the pairings.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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