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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Conquest Chronicles is all asking Michigan blogs questions, and I'm all answering.

1. Have you recovered yet from Michigan's exclusion from the national championship game? We've heard the "experts" give us their opinion on why Michigan dropped from 2nd to 3rd without snapping the ball. What do you think really happened here?

Recovered? Well, I'm still mad but I have managed to stop crying myself to sleep.

As for what happened, there's no debate after all the quotes we saw: the question "who is the better team" was discarded. I find this irritating but want to move on.

2. We admire Lloyd Carr for having enough dignity to refrain from campaigning for BCS positioning. Pete Carroll has the same approach. Still, it was nice to hear Carr call out Urban Meyer for his whiny Tuberville impression. What's your take on the "southern inferiority complex"? What do you think about this season's conventional wisdom, which is that the Big-10 is weak ... despite having arguably the two best teams in the country?

The Big Ten is pretty weak this year from a certain perspective. Ohio State doesn't benefit from the fact that Ohio State is really good because they don't have to play themselves. They basically had a two-game season.

Iowa didn't show up, Michigan State collapsed, and Penn State and Purdue are teams with one good unit and one atrocious one. Wisconsin is a good team but arguably less proven than Boise State, who at least beat good Hawaii and Oregon State teams. I don't mind admitting this. What is bothersome is that when the Big Ten is up -- as it was last year -- the SEC drumbeat continues unabated. No matter what the facts on the ground are, there's always someone waving the SEC flag. Usually their arguments have all the coherency of The Orgeron on crystal meth, but it doesn't matter, and it results in a media environment where mediocre-to-bad Georgia and decent Tennessee play a sloppy game you could see any week in the Pac-10 and get an SI cover declaring the SEC to be "SIMPLY THE BEST." And what wonderful cover subjects for that particular assertion.

Anyway: I've always found this bit of contrived math to be interesting as regards schedule difficulty. Let's set up two situations.

Team A plays six teams it has a 70% chance of beating.
Team B plays five teams it has a 75% chance of beating and one team it has a 45% chance of beating
The average number of wins in these situations is equal: 4.2. But the chance of going undefeated is 11.76% in the first scenario and 10.67% in the second. This is by no means definitive, but it does suggest that the sort of test represented by travelling to Ohio State is a far greater danger to national championship hopes than playing in a conference where South Carolina is slightly less crappy than Iowa. This is apropos of little, I suppose, but look! Math!

3. After losing to Ohio State and now seeing Michigan's remaining hopes dashed while other teams made their case on the field, what is your assessment of the Wolverines' psyche going into preparations for the Rose Bowl? How will Carr get them ready?

I give little credence to the idea that Michigan's going to come out and play crappily because they're pissed. This isn't Kansas State falling into the Alamo Bowl against Purdue. The words "Rose Bowl" and "USC" get the attention of anyone associated with the Michigan program. I also don't think they're likely to come out more fired up because they've been passed over.

I do guarantee, however, that no matter the outcome of the Rose Bowl dim columnists will credit the BCS for Michigan's performance. If Michigan wins, they will be righteous warriors incensed at the folly of the BCS. If they lose, they will be dispirited and uninterested in any prize that's not a crystal football. Fire Joe Morgan coined a term for this: hindpsychology.

4. What is the general impression of Tressel abstaining from his poll vote, his vote for UM would have surely put you guys in the title game. Some have commended him for staying neutral others have hammered him for not having the guts to take a stand. How do you feel?

Um... Tressel's vote wouldn't have mattered either way. During D-Day I wasn't surprised or concerned. I probably would have done the same thing in his position, since however he voted it would have been spun as an insult to his opponent. If he had gone with Michigan, Florida would have bulletin board material about bias and not wanting to play Florida and SEC disrespect. If he had gone with Florida, Florida would have claimed disrespect since Tressel wanted them instead of Michigan. There would be dozens of columns, all of them very, very dumb, about the vote and what it means.

As far as I can tell, the argument for having Tressel cast a ballot revolves around "balls" and stuff about how he signed up to vote and knew what he was getting into, but Tressel's job is to do what's best for Ohio State and that's what he did.