Ohio State vs. Michigan: The Pros and Cons of Moving 'The Game'
Since 1943, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines have met on the gridiron in November, signifying the end of the Big Ten regular season.
Widely regarded as "The Game," this historic matchup is more important to some fans than the holiday that follows—we're talking Thanksgiving here, people.
Though both of these programs have been extremely successful throughout their history in the world of college football, to many, the only game that matters is "The Game."
This is "The Rivalry." (Just ask HBO.)
But suddenly a dark cloud has fallen over the Big Ten landscape. The addition of Nebraska to the conference has left many rivalries in jeopardy, including the big one.
While adding Nebraska to the Big Ten (12?) is exciting and will no doubt benefit the conference as a whole, rumor has it that the Buckeyes and Wolverines will meet in October.
That's right. In the middle of the season.
The idea is that Ohio State and Michigan will be in separate divisions of the Big Ten, and they will have the opportunity to meet again in a conference championship game.
While nothing is yet set in stone, it seems that everyone has an opinion on the matter. There are two sides to every argument, so let's break down the pros and cons of moving "The Game."
Pro: More Money for the Big Ten
Part of creating a successful college conference is making sure that fans everywhere want to watch your games and making sure that they have the access to do so.
The Big Ten has an enormous national fanbase; adding Nebraska will only add to those numbers. With at least six competitive programs in the Big Ten (Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State, Iowa, and now Nebraska), television partners will be chomping at the bit to cash in.
And the idea of Ohio State and Michigan possibly playing each other twice in a single season could mean big bucks for the Big Ten.
Con: Michigan Just Isn't That Good
While separating the Big Ten into two divisions and putting Ohio State and Michigan in separate divisions creates the possibility of the two meeting again in a Big Ten Championship game, we have to be realistic.
Unless Michigan drastically improves its football team (which will be even more difficult with Nebraska in its division), the chances of a postseason rematch are very slim.
Even though Michigan can still claim the winningest college football program in history, recent years have demonstrated anything but.
For this theory to work, Michigan has to get better. Period.
Pro: Gene Smith Won't Get Lonely
Since news broke of this realignment and possible drastic schedule change, Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith has said that he has received over 350 e-mails on the matter.
While 90 percent of these e-mails have been from fans against moving "The Game," making the change will ensure that none of the higher-ups in the Big Ten will ever have a dull day.
Con: You're Messing with Tradition
Every year, Ohio State and Michigan fans alike have an entire season to get pumped for "The Game." They still cheer on their own teams throughout the season, but they also keep an eye on their rival.
We evaluate each other, picking apart the other's weaknesses and preparing for their strengths. We have an entire season to find an answer for an impenetrable defense (or a spread offense).
We send e-mails, make phone calls, and post on message boards breaking down exactly what we think will happen in November.
We talk trash all season:
"Michigan fans are prissy." "Buckeyes fans are rednecks."
It all culminates at the Big House or the Horseshoe, where it gets even uglier.
The Ohio State vs Michigan battle has been the last game of the season for over six decades, and the anticipation is at least half the fun. Moving this game would signify the Big Ten turning its back on tradition.
Pro: ESPN Could Add Another Expansion Network
The Big Ten has an enormous television contract with ABC/ESPN which guarantees that the conference's football and basketball teams will continue to be covered nationally.
Even though college football prides itself in tradition and the education of its student-athletes, we all know that it's primarily a business.
ESPN will have the opportunity to add to its list of offshoot networks.
Con: Other Games Will Be Less Important
Part of what makes Ohio State and Michigan football seasons so exciting is that everything leads up to the big game in November.
If Ohio State and Michigan meet in the middle of the season, interest in the games that follow will plummet. Once "The Game" is over, will anybody really care about the Michigan vs. Purdue game? What about Ohio State vs. Northwestern?
Pro: Jim Delany Can Take Better Vacations
So what if the big game will no longer take place at the end of the season? While Big Ten fans may be disappointed, commissioner Jim Delany will be laughing all the way to the bank.
With the addition of the Big Ten Championship game, the conference stands to earn millions more in television revenue.
Let's not be selfish here, Big Ten fans. After all of Delany's hard work, don't you think he deserves that trip to Dubai?
Con: What About the Fans?
Even though the Big Ten has become more competitive, and Ohio State and Michigan are no longer two big fish in a small pond, you will be hard-pressed to find any fans in favor of holding "The Game" in the middle of the season.
Sure, Wisconsin, Penn State, Iowa, and Nebraska have shown promise, but all Big Ten fans tune in for the battle between Ohio State and Michigan at the end of the season.
While the conference realignment will be good for the Big Ten as a whole, if the fans want the big game at the end of the season, give it to them!
Pro: Potential for New Rivalries
Most fans will agree that the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry is getting a little old. In today's progressive society, we need to be looking to the future.
I think I speak for everyone when I say that I simply cannot wait for the new Nebraska-Illinois rivalry.
That right there is some great football.
Con: If It Ain't Broke...
The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry has been a regional tradition for decades. Fans get pumped every year for the two schools' storied meeting, so a seemingly simple question presents itself:
Why would you want to change that?