just like the good old days.


Forgive me if I behave like a normal, rational human being for a moment, while discussing college football. I promise you — it’ll last just a minute or two.

That’s all the time I’ll need to explain why I’m excited that Michigan landed Jim Harbaugh.

(I know, I know. Stick with me for a second, OK?)

* The best thing about The Coaching Change Up North is that Harbaugh should bring that program back to its traditional place in college football — and that is nothing but positive for the Big Ten. The shine has come off our conference recently, and it’s for one simple fact: we don’t compete. This isn’t all the fault of the team up north — look no further than a horrible loss at home to Virginia Tech as an example, ahem — but having one of the conference’s marquee teams struggle to earn bowl eligibility goes a long way towards hurting the perception of the B1G. Ohio State must be consistently good for the Big Ten to be respected, and the conference’s other big name programs — Penn State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and, especially, Michigan — must match that consistency as well.

* If you believe what Harbaugh said in his news conference today, it’s good to hear that Michigan is getting a guy who believes in — who understands — what’s different about college football. We’re not watching the same level of football as we do on Sundays. But we care more, and that passion is what makes Saturday football better. NFL reporters and execs won’t understand why Harbaugh left. I do.

* Finally — here’s a Michigan coach I can really hate again.

26. whew.

I had fun this morning, posting a stream of dumb Michigan jokes on my Facebook page.

I had fun for a bit in the third quarter, when it looked like Ohio State’s defense had settled down and the offense would continue scoring on most of its possessions.

The first half of the Michigan game? I’m not sure I’d call that fun. Fourth quarter? Fun, in a masochistic sort of way.

Tyvis Powell, Drew Dileo

Michigan’s two-point conversion attempt? If relief equals fun, then sure — fun.

I’m proud that Ohio State found a way to win a game that it shouldn’t have today. But there is a lot of stuff to figure out before Saturday’s title game against Michigan State — overall passing defense, defending screen plays, improving the consistency of our passing game. Oh, and maybe how to not throw punches at members of the opposing team.

But. That’s two in a row over Michigan. That’s a rivalry-game win on the road. That’s the nation’s longest undefeated streak. And that feels pretty good.

* * *

Speaking of fun: Did you catch the end of the Auburn-Alabama game?

That upset could — should? — open a door for Ohio State that as recently as a few hours ago looked to be deadbolted, barricaded and boarded up.

Look. There’s still a huge game — and a tough one — ahead on Saturday. But let’s consider just a couple of things:

  • No undefeated major-conference team has ever been jumped in the BCS rankings by a one-loss team.
  • If going undefeated was easy, there would be more than two AQ teams to do it this year.
  • As a response to the “Ohio State Doesn’t Belong” Chorus that has already started: Ohio State was favored today by 16.5. Alabama was favored by 10. We play the games for a reason.

why not?


1) I always like watching Ohio State beat Michigan.

2) We’re about to embark upon the most fun three weeks of basketball all year (starting tonight, when Robert Morris hosts Kentucky in an NIT game).

3) We’re just about 45 hours away from the start of the Eighth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown). Entries are just now starting to trickle in. With a Bocktown gift card to be awarded to the winner, make sure you’re not missing out — get your picks in soon, boys and girls. Need details? They’re here.

57. concerned.

I’ve talked a bunch in the past about the difficulties I’ve had with the prospect of tinkering with the Big Ten’s football schedule. There is a rhythm to football season, and I’ve always thought that moving stuff around would mean significant changes to the flow of November.

I’ve known for a while that the addition of a championship game was inevitable; I was aware last fall that the season would be extended past Thanksgiving for the first time in the conference’s history.

And here we are.

I love Thanksgiving and all that goes with it. My obsession with the Michigan game is well-documented here. And it’s been a little distracting to have both fall in the same week. It’s forced us to make some adjustments, like canceling the annual Beat Michigan Spaghetti Dinner we always have with my folks and Fred and Ethel, because they’re having a Thanksgiving with their family today.

And more importantly, I’ve been scatter-brained about both things this week. I haven’t devoted the time or energy to Michigan that I normally would, here and everywhere else. I’ll be fine tomorrow, but for now, it’s disconcerting.

Expansion was coming, as were changes to the schedule. The addition of Nebraska to the conference was probably the best fit we could have hoped for. I still get my Michigan game at the end of the regular season, and I still get my Penn State game every year. I have to admit — this has gone pretty well.

We’ll develop new traditions. We’ll adjust. But for today, I’m not where I want to be. I hope I’ll get there by tomorrow morning.