Earlier today on ESPN's flagship radio program, "Mike and Mike", the hosts engaged in a spirited discussion about the merits of a 76-0 pasting, like the one applied to Florida A&M by the Ohio State Buckeyes over the weekend. Mike Greenberg, a Big Ten man with a Northwestern journalism degree (*genuflects*) began to wax philosphical about his experience watching AAU basketball teams play D-1 college programs, and scores that could have been 100-2 but somehow, because of basketball's inherent ability to not be football, things were kept much more respectable.
The Wildcat alum was critical of the Buckeyes, saying that despite the $900,000 payday headed to Tallahassee as a result of the game, it was still brutal, disgusting and wrong that the game even happened.
Mike Golic, on the other hand, was much less harsh on the Buckeyes, saying that these games are there for a reason, and the players on the payday teams want to play and give it a shot. Without that mindset, there would be no Appalachian State over Michigan in 2007, or any of the other seven FCS victories of FBS schools (where the FCS outfit cashed a large check for their efforts) in the opening weekend of our current season of college football.
The argument is valid, for now at least, because of how scheduling works in college football. And while the Buckeyes haven't played the strongest schedule in the nation (cough understatement cough) to date, only promulgates the need to change how things are done before conference games begin. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany is already telling his conference's coaches and athletic directors to keep FCS teams off the schedules, and rightfully so. With the BCS ending, and a Football Final Four (or whatever they end up calling it) on the books for next season, it is imperative that teams schedule good games instead of sacrificial lambs.
Florida A&M was and is a bad football team. Just look at what Columbus' paper of record had to say about them:
Opponent - Zero Leaves
It’s hard not to have a little pity for FAMU, which got the $900K it came for and left with about as many welt marks. Overmatched doesn’t begin to cover it, but the Rattlers sure didn’t bring much to the party in terms of emotion and imagination. Maybe they missed their band.
They have a rich history, and even have a national title to their names, to the Rattlers' credit, but they were worked over by a very good Buckeyes team, beaten even when the second- and third-stringers made their way onto the field*. But for all the vitriol and talk about Urban Meyer running up the score on a helpless team, there are a few notes and a few points that should be brought up.
(*note: if the second- and third-strings are gentlemen like the speedy Ezekiel Elliot and Cardale Jones, then the Urban Meyer era is going to provide a great show into the future.)
For starters, Ohio State wasn't the only team playing a glorified scrimmage this weekend. Louisville, undefeated and #7 in the most recent AP Poll, has already played a schedule worth of consideration for easiest in the history of college football. Starting out with two home games against Ohio University and Eastern Kentucky (final aggregate score, 93-14), the Cardinals got an SEC* win against Kentucky before running up 70+ points against Florida International. The Temple Owls are the next opponent for the Cards, who are averaging 48 points per game.
(*note 2: Kentucky is still, for some reason, and SEC football team, though I'm pretty sure they've been all but disowned at this point.)
After their landmark win over Florida two weeks ago, the Miami Hurricanes welcomed the Savannah State YoureGoingToBeatUs into Coral Gables, and beat the tar out of them, 77-7. Miami hasn't left their state for a game this year, beating Florida Atlantic, University of Florida and Savannah State in succession, before playing at the University of South Florida (in Tampa) and against Georgia Tech at home.
Opening a season against these foes isn't anything new. But some of our Southern friends find a way to do it even better. Take consensus #1 Alabama. It had headline games against Virginia Tech and Texas A&M to begin the year, but will play Georgia State at home in two weeks, and will play Chattanooga in late November, a tune-up before their yearly rivalry with Auburn.
Louisiana State is undefeated, heading into a huge game with Georgia. I'm sure Les Miles and the Bayou Bengals are keeping focused on that game, as well as a home tilt against Florida, and their back-to-back gameas against Alabama and Texas A&M. What they aren't focused on is probably the October 26 game against something called the Furman Paladins.
And while we're in the SEC, let's go East and look at Urban Meyer's former team, which he left in a state of insurmountable disrepair when he left a few years ago. The loss of Jeff Driskel will hurt a team that still has to play at LSU, and at South Carolina. But they get to eat turkey and the Georgia Southern Eagles for Thanksgiving, so it's not all bad for Will Muschamp down in Florida.
Most schools will rectify these scheduling holes in the coming years, or face the wrath of pollsters knocking them out of a potential top-four finish and a shot at a national title. The Buckeyes have already started planning for the future, with games against Navy, Virginia Tech and Cincinnati on the schedule next year, and perennial big wigs Oklahoma, TCU, Oregon and Texas added to the schedule in the next decade. Slowly but surely, the cupcakes will go back to playing themselves, and the big boys of the FBS will go back to playing one another.
But for now, since everyone is doing it, don't hate the team eating the cupcake. Don't hate the cupcake for getting a check to attend a beat down. Hate the system that allows it to happen.
And maybe the Northwestern grads who keep the story on the front burner.