Michigan-Ohio State and a Dash of dish
From checking in with the Dead Schembechlers to the Bo vs. Woody days to choosing sides in a rivalry game to more laundry wars, the Dash runs through it all.
Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (one game in particular making the news this week):
Dead Schembechlers Alive And Spewing
Phone rang Monday. It was Bo.
No, not Bo Schembechler (1). It was Bo Biafra (2). Lead singer/shameless promoter/maniac-in-residence with the self-proclaimed "Best Damn Punk Band in the Land," the Dead Schembechlers.
This is Michigan-Ohio State week (3), and if you had to pick which Bo to interview -- well, it's better to have Bo Biafra than no Bo at all.
Here's what the hell it is: a quartet of Ohio State crazies who dress like Woody Hayes (4) and sing tender ballads such as "Bomb Ann Arbor Now" and "Wolverine Destroyer."
In other words: insane fans with guitars, an entrepreneurial spirit and a wickedly warped sense of humor. For the college football rivalry that already has everything, why not add a band from the lunatic fringe?
Which brings us back to the Monday conversation with Bo Biafra.
The Dash was in Columbus and was hoping to track down the Schems for a sit-down interview. But as Biafra informed The Dash, in an accent that switched back and forth -- sometimes in the same sentence -- between James Bond (5) and Foghorn Leghorn (6): "For security reasons, we have been scattered around the country to undisclosed locations. With the heightened attention on the game this year our lives are in greater danger than ever from the international Wolverine conspiracy."
Well, certainly. One can never be too careful in these dangerous times. How about a prediction for Saturday?
Nice visual. Do you have any favorite memories from the rivalry?
"I believe we're 102-0 against the Wolverines," Biafra insisted. "If you go back and check the lying, liberal Wolverine media, they'll make you believe they won many of the games."
Biafra explained that game footage was doctored, and crop dusters were flown over the stadium to drug fans and make them believe they were seeing Michigan victories. He pointed out the vast reach of the international Wolverines conspiracy by mentioning that the founder of Walgreen's, Charles Walgreen, is a Michigan alum -- and where do you think the maize and blue got the pharmaceuticals to drug Buckeye Nation?
To further the conspiracy point, Biafra said that the very week the band's "Bomb Ann Arbor Now" video debuted on YouTube.com, the operation was purchased by Google -- which was co-founded by a Michigan grad.
(Did The Dash mention that this dude is crazy?)
So the conspiracy is a real and present danger. But, Bo, you're going to risk life and limb to perform in Columbus Friday night at a "Hate Michigan Rally." (Biafra was all too happy to pass on ticket details.) What will the rally be like?
"Mardi Gras meets the bombing of Dresden."
OK, so rallygoers should wear beads and flame-retardant clothing. And where will the Dead Schembechlers be on game day?
"In The Shoe!" Biafra shouted, insulted at the thought they'd be anywhere else. "That's like asking Patton where he was going to be when the Third Army broke through at Bastogne! He was there on the ground!
"We don't shy away from danger. When the fecal matter hits the air-conditioning unit, we're there."
The Dash just hopes the Dead Schembechlers don't run into the Live Schembechler Saturday. The Shoe is big enough for only one epic confrontation.
We Now Return To Regular Dash Programming
If you are a true college football fan, worth your weight in face paint and able to name Jay Berwanger's school, you have an appreciation for this time of year.
Rivalry time. When the big games between the ancient combatants roll around.
The rivalry game to end all rivalry games gets top billing Saturday in Columbus, with plenty of reason. This one is off-the-charts huge, but every installment of Ohio State-Michigan is big.
Anyone who grew up with the sport has some history with this rivalry.
For The Dash, growing up in Colorado in the 1970s, it was the epitome of college football. It was cold weather, iconic coaches and classic uniforms. It was Old School before anyone knew what Old School meant.
How classically caveman were those Bo-versus-Woody slugfests? In the epic 10-10 tie of 1973, Ohio State didn't complete a single pass.
Michigan's passing attack was no less Cro-Magnon in those days, with seemingly every Wolverines attempt coming on a rollout thrown very hard at the receiver's shoe tops. When The Dash and his buddies would go play football in the backyard, we actually had a play called the Michigan Pass. It called for the receiver to fall down after gaining two yards. We ran it once per game, for comic effect.
But Michigan-Ohio State and every other rivalry had to come with a rooting interest. That's part of being a fan -- sitting someplace halfway across the country, picking a side and embracing it like it's the hometown team.
Russell or Chamberlain. Elway or Marino. Switzer or Osborne. You've got to choose sides in sports -- especially in college football rivalries.
So this is the Personal Rivalry Checklist from The Dash's youth, complete with the specious reasons the 9-year-old Dash had for championing one cause over another. Feel free to fill out your own.
(Remember: these rooting interests were formed in the 1970s. Covering games for a living beats the fan out of you, so none of these allegiances are in play today. Like most sportswriters, The Dash today roots for fast games and good stories.)
Michigan-Ohio State. Choice: Michigan. Why: Helmets.
Army-Navy (15): Choice: Army. Why: The Dash's dad was an infantryman in WWII, so rooting for the Cadets was familial duty at least one Saturday every year.
Auburn-Alabama (16): Choice: Auburn. Why: Never understood the numbers on the helmets with the Crimson Tide, since they already had numbers on their shirts. Plus the underdog factor going up against unbeatable Bear Bryant. There is a dim recollection of delight watching the famed "Punt, Bama, Punt" game of 1972, a 17-16 Tigers upset.
USC-Notre Dame (18): Choice: Notre Dame. Why: The Dash's oldest brother was a Domer in the '70s, including both of the Anthony Davis-gone-ballistic games. (After Davis and the Trojans produced the greatest momentum shift of all time by exploding from 24-0 down to win 55-24 in 1974, The Dash was taunted on the playground the following Monday by little Arthur Carr, who danced up and sang, "Fifty-five to 24, sound like a familiar score?" That earned Arthur a punch in the beak. Consider this a 32-year-old apology, Arthur.)
Oklahoma-Nebraska (19): Choice: Oklahoma. Why: Thomas Lott. Ran the wishbone, wore a bandanna under his helmet, probably the coolest player in college football history.
Pitt-Penn State (20): Choice: Pitt. Why: Impossible to root for those plain-label Nittany Lions unis.
Texas-Texas A&M (21): Texas A&M. Underdog factor, plus the Aggies had a running back named Bubba Bean. He was cool.
Georgia-Georgia Tech (22): Georgia Tech. Rooted against most teams wearing red.
Harvard-Yale (23): Harvard. God knows why.
Laundry Wars, Part II
The Dash remains convinced the BCS standings are still flawed for two reasons: laundry and slot voting. How else do you explain what's happened the past two weeks?
Example 1: Losing to ranked teams usually is not a mortal sin. Unless you lose to a Big East ranked team. West Virginia (24) plummeted seven spots, from No. 3 to No. 10, after losing on the road to then-No. 5 Louisville (25). Now the Cardinals have dropped nine spots in the USA Today poll after losing by three on the road against the No. 13 team in the country.
Example 2: If West Virginia had gone unbeaten, it would be playing for the national title. If Louisville had gone unbeaten, it would be playing for the national title. But if fellow Big East team Rutgers (26) goes unbeaten -- including last week's victory over the Cardinals and what would be a victory over the Mountaineers Dec. 2 -- they have no chance?
That's the conventional wisdom, resulting from what boils down to rigid preseason polling. Because one-loss teams such as Notre Dame and Florida have been ranked all season, they remain ahead of the undefeated Scarlet Knights, who didn't enter either the Harris Poll or USA Today coaches' poll until the fifth week of the year. Rutgers, which has a win over a team ranked No. 3 at the time, is two spots behind Notre Dame (27) in one human poll and three behind in the other, despite the fact that the Fighting Irish have done nothing more significant this year than beat No. 18 Georgia Tech and lose to Michigan by 26.
Example 3: Arkansas (28) is three spots behind Florida (29) in the BCS standings. They've played five common SEC opponents. The Razorbacks are 5-0 against those opponents and have outscored them by 43 points. The Gators are 4-1 against those opponents and have outscored them by 13 points. Arkansas has beaten the two ranked teams, Tennessee and Auburn, by 34 points. Florida is 1-1 against the Volunteers and Tigers and was outscored by nine in those two games. But Arkansas was late cracking the Top 25, and upward mobility has been difficult because of so many other one-loss teams ahead of the Razorbacks.
The Dash's current Top 10:
(No. refers to Nov. 12 BCS standing)
1. Ohio State. Best win: 24-7 at Texas (No. 13). Loss: None.
2. Michigan. Best win: 47-21 at Notre Dame (No. 5). Loss: None.
3. USC. Best win: 50-14 at Arkansas (No. 7). Loss: 33-31 at Oregon State (unranked).
4. Arkansas. Best win: 27-10 at Auburn (No. 14). Loss: 50-14 to USC (No. 3).
5. Rutgers. Best win: 28-25 over Louisville (No. 10). Loss: None.
6. Florida. Best win: 23-10 over LSU (No. 11). Loss: 27-17 at Auburn (No. 14).
7. Louisville. Best win: 44-34 over West Virginia (No. 8). Loss: 28-25 at Rutgers (No. 6).
8. Notre Dame. Best win: 14-10 at Georgia Tech (No 18). Loss: 47-21 to Michigan (No. 2).
9. West Virginia. Best win: 45-24 over Maryland (No. 19). Loss: 44-34 at Louisville (No. 10).
10. LSU. Best win: 28-24 at Tennessee (No. 22). Worst loss: 23-10 at Florida (No. 4).
And watch out for Wake Forest (30), which has an opportunity to finish 11-1 by beating No. 19 Virginia Tech and No. 21 Maryland the next two weeks. If the Demon Deacons can close by beating Boston College, Florida State, the Hokies and the Terrapins, that's Rutgers Lite. At least.
There is no escaping the fact that the BCS is pathetically flawed and that the only rational solution is a playoff, but there are kindergartners who might all die waiting for that. The only solace right now is the fact that everyone in The Dash's top 10 except Louisville has a chance to play another top-10 team between now and the final BCS standings.
The key games, beyond this weekend's obvious big enchilada:
USC-Notre Dame (31), Nov. 25. If the Trojans get by Cal this weekend, they could control their own destiny against the Fighting Irish.
Arkansas-LSU (32), Nov. 24, probably followed by Arkansas-Florida (33), Dec. 2. If either the Razorbacks or Gators get through 12-1, expect the lobbying for title-game inclusion to be intense. But there's no way the Hogs could go ahead of an 11-1 USC team that drilled them in Fayetteville to open the season. Yes, it was a long time ago and much has changed for Arkansas -- but the result still counts.
Rutgers-West Virginia (34), Dec. 2. While the SEC, Big 12 and ACC are playing their title games, the Big East BCS rep might be decided in Morgantown. Greg Schiano's Rutgers teams are 0-5 against the Mountaineers, and his first two were outscored 120-7. But times have changed. The Scarlet Knights have given up only 98 points all season.
Stat Of The Week
The former Holy Trinity of college football -- Florida (35), Florida State (36) and Miami (37) -- combined to score 30 points last Saturday and lose two out of three games. The one victory was secured by three blocked kicks.
Last time the big three from the state that once served as the American capital of offensive football combined to score fewer points in the same weekend: Nov. 2-3, 1973. Florida beat Auburn 12-8, Houston beat Florida State 34-3 and West Virginia beat Miami 20-14.
Seminoles offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden took his dad off the hook in Tallahassee by announcing he would resign at the end of the season and it looks like it's high time for Larry Coker to relinquish command in Coral Gables.
It's gotten bad enough at Florida State that the Kentucky coach is talking trash about the Seminoles. According to Louisville Courier-Journal writer Brett Dawson, Rich Brooks, perhaps feeling chesty about clinching his first .500 record as a head coach since 1994, Monday praised offensive line coach Jimmy Heggins, formerly of Florida State.
"It's nice to be able to get coaches that get let go at other places for whatever reason," Brooks said. "How's Florida State's offense doing this year? I just thought I'd throw that out there."
Putting Out An APB For
Former Buckeyes linebacker Randy Gradishar (38). In keeping with the Ohio State-Michigan theme, it seems only fitting to track down one of the great slobberknockers from that rivalry's history. Gradishar was a tremendous linebacker for years with the Denver Broncos, and his exclusion from the Hall of Fame is a traveshamockery if ever The Dash has seen one.
Now here's the serious APB for the week: rumor has it that Tara Reid (39) will be in Columbus this weekend for the big game. Please apprise if you spot this week's Dashette hanging out on High Street or anywhere else in C-Bus.
The Dash was home last weekend, leaving the cupboard of eating and drinking recommendations dangerously bare. But The Dash would never leave you hangin'. ESPN multimedia monster Dave Revsine (40), star of screen, radio waves and cyberspace, stepped in with the following tips for visits to Evanston, Ill., home of his alma mater, Northwestern:
"Buffalo Joe's -- good campus hangout. Great wings. Lulu's -- Little Asian-Fusion place that I think is outstanding. Mustard's Last Stand -- Little hot dog place on Central literally a block from the stadium. Good Chicago-style dogs."
Now if only the Wildcats can produce a team worth traveling to see.
Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.
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