The trouble with Smurfs … and writing off the B1G

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Working under the assumption that the majority of the readership here hasn’t seen Smurfs 2 … which may or may not be a reasonable thought … here’s the plot summary: Basically, the movie centers around Smurfette being captured, causing Smurf Village to go into an uproar. The assumption for kids is that they’re trying to save their friend. For the rest of us, it’s more like, “Well, yeah, when you only have one female in a village, it’s chaos if you lose her.”

At any rate, at some point through the movie, Smurfette has thoughts that maybe she’s better off with her new pals who captured her (convoluted logic, but hell, they’re Smurfs) while thinking the remainder of the Smurfs have forgotten about her and aren’t coming to save her. In reality, their blue lives are turned on end with her gone, and their perceived ambivalence to her was because of a surprise birthday party they didn’t want her to know about.


If you hadn’t known any better after the season-ending injury to Braxton Miller of Ohio State, you’d just go ahead and assume the Buckeyes were Smurfette and the rest of the conference just Smurfs looking longingly at what is now gone.

We’ll get into the absurdity of writing Ohio State off in a bit, but first, don’t follow the sheep narrative and go walking off the cliff on the B1G, assuming the conference’s playoff chances are dead to rights with the loss of the star player at its most successful program in the BCS era.

There are a lot of reasons to short of shrug, but that won’t stop everyone from treating the B1G in 2014 like one of those scenes out of Independence Day when they find out the aliens aren’t coming here for Coors Light and grilling tips.

For one, the CFB Playoff is organized such that more teams get in, and a quick history of the BCS surely shows that often, it’s hard distinguishing two teams that deserve it, let alone four. The playoff was designed to not have to piss off a bunch of people by saying that one 12-1 team is better than another 12-1 team. In the CFB Playoff, likely both teams get in.

Let me put it bluntly to you: If anyone in the B1G goes 12-1 and wins the conference, they’re getting into the darned CFB Playoff.

The second reason is a simple matter of the true benefit of an out of conference (OOC) scheduling philosophy that can best be described as “rare but tough.”

The B1G, as almost habit over the years, has seen its most successful teams routinely schedule one elite level opponent for the OOC season to help gauge where the team might be and give it a pre-conference challenge heading into the meat of the year.

Lloyd Carr used to explain it that way, at least. Something had to be done to justify some of those early season paddlings to drive the fan base more mad than it already was.

This year is no different. Wisconsin will play SEC heavyweight LSU; Michigan State will grapple with Pac-12 powerhouse Oregon; Michigan will tangle with traditional rival and top-20 resident Notre Dame in South Bend.

Say what you want about the third game in that formula and how it has managed to not really be a harbinger for success for the winner in the BCS era, but when a top-20 team falls at home, the winning club reaps the spoils.

Those are just three examples. Nebraska is another one. It gets Miami out of conference; for an additional strength-of-schedule boost within its conference, the Huskers get Michigan State from the B1G East. Every team in the conference that you could reasonably see making a CFB Playoff run has a schedule set up so that if they lose only one game, they should be there … and that’s how it should be.

This is all assuming the CFB Playoff was set up not to force feed us more teams, but because someone was genuinely disturbed by glut of presumably “deserved” teams being left out of the process.

Hint: it was neither of those. It was money.

As for Ohio State, the Buckeyes will be fine. With their depth chart rife with top-shelf recruits; one of the greatest coaches of our era in Urban Meyer; and the reality that the last two Heisman winners … one a BCS championship winner … were guys who’d never taken a snap of college ball prior to those seasons, and you realize that we’re in an age in college football that, if you have the surrounding talent, a young quarterback with the right talent and mindset can come in and be most elite (read that last part in the Keanu Reeves Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure voice).

Really, shouldn’t we at least SEE Ohio State play before we just automatically assume there will be some drop off? Shouldn’t opinions at some point be rooted in reality or stuff actually happening before it gets written off?

It’s like your buddy trying to hook you up with a girl and you ask her where she dates. The answer is “White Castle,” so you immediately say, “No way.” Don’t you owe it to yourself as a rational human being to at least see the gal first before writing everything off?

The moral of this story is that being absurdly down on the B1G is en vogue, but it doesn’t mean you should buy it while you’re at the mall with disposable time and obviously disposable brain cells if considering the purchase.

Another lesson is that since college football is so rooted in perception, isn’t this a prime example of why programs should strive for rather than avoid elite OOC scheduling? I know, I’m tinkling into a head wind with that idea.

But rest assured, Smurfette wasn’t even kidnapped. She simply grabbed a bottle of wine and went to a hotel by herself for a night. She’ll be back, and meanwhile, the rest of the village will be just fine in the rare event she decides to stay for the weekend.