Sep 022007
Condolences to Katie for her school’s embarrassing loss to 1-AA (or whatever they’re calling it now) Appalachian State, a devastating failure that has effectively ended their title hopes for the year. Even if Michigan never loses again, the poll voters are never going to forget that they dropped to a lower division school, and even if they are struck by collective amnesia the computers will punish Michigan in November for their showing today. To be fair, it was not an easy win for App. State (a 2-time 1-AA champion) by any means, and Michigan could have won it. But bad coaching decisions and subpar play gave the day to a school better known for taking an annual early-season drubbing from UNC’s basketball team than for their excellence in lower-division football.

This is the time of year when pundits complain about the cupcake schedule that many teams employ in the early part of the season. The advantage of scheduling these games for the big Division I schools is not the easy win per se, but the opportunity to get your team tuned up under fairly low-pressure conditions. In essence, these are the equivalent of preseason games, and there are a lot of reasons to dislike them. From a selfish perspective, they are unhelpful and potentially dangerous to a title bid, particularly when the computer rankings have a go at them. In a larger sense, they do a disservice to the sport by dampening enthusiasm. Who can really get worked up for the college opening weekend when presented a barn-burner like Texas A&M vs. Montana St., or Michigan vs. Appalachian St. for that matter? But today’s experience brings up another selfish reason to avoid the cupcake: unlike the NFL preseason, your cupcake game counts. What happens if that puff pastry actually manages to win?

Well, we have the answer in this case: Michigan’s title hopes are over. And congratulations to Appalachian State for it.

The only pity is that almost nobody saw the great game App. State put on except in highlights, thanks to the Big Ten’s ill-conceived and inconsiderate decision to put all their lower-tier games onto their own special network that, incidentally, almost no cable subscribers can receive. The reason for this is that the cable networks (rightly) refused to put the channel on the basic tier, and the greedy bastards at the Big Ten decided that if they couldn’t get what they wanted then they weren’t going to play. Games that used to be broadcast by ESPN Plus, ESPNU, or regional broadcast teams like Jefferson Pilot Sports have now been relegated to an obscure channel almost nobody gets. The victory might be their karmic reward for their selfishness.

Originally that last sentence included a truly ghastly pun. Perhaps I’m learning restraint?

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