Thoughts From Jerry World
By Michael Chung
Why would someone who works for an Ohio State website want to give up watching Urban Meyer’s first game in Columbus to spend it watching the Buckeyes’ archenemy?
Call it friendship.
A good friend of mine from Michigan has a daughter at Alabama and a son at that school up in Ann Arbor. He thought it would be a great idea for the family to go to the Cowboys Classic, where the Crimson Tide brutalized his beloved Wolverines. He was kind enough to take me along for what turned out to be a rather memorable night in the great state of Texas.
We piled into his rental car and drove up interstate 45 from Houston to Dallas, stopping to dine on some awesome Tex-Mex before the game.
When we arrived at Cowboys Stadium, a sea of Maize and Blue mixed with Crimson colored the land. Tailgaters everywhere, Michigan and Alabama Jerseys galore, the smell of fresh meat on the grill – the atmosphere was electric and mirrored a bowl game.
Having attended the 1997 Rose Bowl and 1999 Sugar Bowl, along with the 2002 National Championship Game and 2010 Rose Bowl, the atmosphere in Dallas (Arlington) was every bit as thrilling as the bowl games. You would have thought Alabama and Michigan were playing for the BCS National Championship.
The Jerry Dome (Cowboys Stadium) was so loud that I couldn’t use my phone. Texting was the only way to communicate. Tickets were $125 and up – more expensive than many bowl games – but the price was worth it (though I got in for free).
The game kicked off to a roar from both sides. Michigan won the toss and proceeded to stop the Tide on their first series. After that, the day was cruel and vicious for Brady’s boys.
Thoughts were flowing through my mind during and after the game:
This is great for college football and fantastic for the fans. Many treated the game as a mini-vacation, which was good for the local economy, good for both schools, and great for the game itself.
While other top ten teams were playing Savannah State, Hawaii, UTEP, North Texas, and Buffalo, Alabama and Michigan opened with a team that had a much greater chance of defeating them. In this current system, the loser would suffer extreme penalty while schools playing lower level competition would still have a chance to succeed. Take Michigan, who dropped to No. 19 in the AP Poll for showing the guts to get beat on opening day while others who played lesser tier teams were not penalized.
Interesting how Alabama is the new No. 1 in the AP poll. Why should a team drop 11 spots for losing to the best team in the land?
Many Ohio State fans may not agree with me on this next comment, but my respect for Michigan actually grew that night in Dallas. If the Wolverines had opened with their normal cupcake school from the local community college, Denard Robinson would have put up monster numbers that had Mark May and all the others drooling over his Heisman discussion.
Michigan would have been mentioned as a possible BCS title contender, at least until the start of the Big Ten schedule.
All was washed away Saturday night. Denard Robinson did not have a good game against the Crimson Tide and Michigan had not taken such a beating since Donavan McNabb was at Syracuse. Denard’s Heisman hopes are all but over, as are Michigan’s title hopes. But the Wolverines put it on the line to play in an incredible game.
College football should develop a system that encourages teams to play these types of games. It is great for the sport, and I think ultimately it is great for the players, regardless of the outcome. Playing on a big stage outside of a bowl game can only aid in the growth process of young men, but it’s poison to a teams chances of achieving postseason accolades.
Ozone columnist Tony Gerdeman believes Brady Hoke did not want this game.
“There is no way that Brady Hoke wanted this game, but he got stuck with it when athletic director Dave Brandon decided that it would be a good marketing move,” he writes.
“How's that marketing working out for you now, Dave?”
Though Brandon’s move essentially eliminates Michigan from the BCS, in the end, I think it makes Michigan look better for scheduling Alabama than it would if had played another Savannah State instead.
Brady Hoke may have had nightmares before the game – and he certainly has had them since – but he and his players will remember this experience more than if they played a “glorified” exhibition game like most top tier schools did.
The Cowboys Classic is booked the next two years. Notre Dame is playing Arizona State and then Texas plays UCLA. It would be wonderful if Gene Smith were to get on the phone to see if Jerry Jones can schedule the Buckeyes down in Dallas for 2015.
The atmosphere was amazing and Buckeye fans would have a blast in the Texas heat. Maybe Gene can try to reschedule the match-up with Georgia since they recently pulled out of that home-and-home series.
Or maybe Ohio State can finally get its crack at the Crimson Tide and succeed where Michigan failed? By then, the Urban Express could be rolling and may have already played for an NCAA title.