I’m sitting at the kitchen table in my parents’ house. I have prep work for tomorrow’s tailgate party done, and I’m enjoying the hell out of this bomber of Bison Imperial Stout, from Homestead Beer Co. in Heath, Ohio.
There is an exception to the all-Ohio beer rule in place for tomorrow’s Michigan State tailgate party. Ethel’s brother-in-law Chris is in town and he usually brings along something delicious from Founders Brewing in Grand Rapids, where he lives. That’s totally worth making an exception.
If you’re hungry for grilled cheese sandwiches, our tailgate party tomorrow is the place to be.
As I write this post, I’m listening to a Phil Lesh and Friends show from Hershey, Pa., in 2002. I’m pretty sure Mrs. Crappy and I were there for that one — we saw Phil in Hershey several times — but that’s not really what sent me down this path. I’m suffering tinges of regret (yes, I’m sure that’s different from the neuropoahy) over not seeing Dead and Co. in Columbus last week. I know Phil’s dealing with more health problems, but I’d love to see him tour a bit more, even if it’s a last go-round. His bands were always excellent; a full show from the A.J. Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh in 2001 got me nearly all the way from Pittsburgh to Columbus this afternoon.
I am missing Mrs. Crappy. And Mr. Charlie.
As of this very moment, I am four days behind in my NaBloPoMo efforts. Any bets as to whether I can catch up?
From now through Nov. 28, one state will occupy an inordinate amount of my time and energy.
One week from today, Ohio State plays its final home game of the season against Michigan State. In recent years, the game against Sparty has been the biggest one on the conference schedule, at least in a practical sense; there are teams I want to beat more every year — hello, Penn State — but this one has become the game of year. Besides being good, there are some losses to State bad enough — and recent enough (B1G title game two years ago, and the 1998 Reason Why I Hate Nick Saban Game) — that this one will always have my attention.
Plus, it’s fun to see we can make Mark Dantonio look even grumpier than usual.
The annual game against that other school from that state — The One Up North — has lost some luster recently, because TTUN has been, well, bad. It turned down the intensity of the rivalry a bit and, worse, it damaged the reputation of the conference, because one of it’s marquee schools wasn’t playing up to standard.
And then this guy came back. And he has his team playing … better.
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.
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.
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.