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The Big Ten chose correctly in sending Ohio State to the 1974 Rose Bowl.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/28/2010 Category: Sports
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,735 times Debate No: 12851
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (2)




In 1973, both Ohio State and Michigan marched into their showdown undefeated with the Rose Bowl riding on the outcome. The teams tied, and the Big Ten voted 6-4 to send Ohio State to the Rose Bowl instead of Michigan. Bo Schembechler, Michigan's coach, was furious, but my contention is that the Big Ten chose correctly.


I would like to thank my opponent for setting up this debate and wish them the best of luck. Also I would like to apologize before hand if my responses are delayed as I just started college and have quite a bit of work, but I will do my best to respond timely.

Through my contentions over the course of this debate I look to show how The Big Ten made a poor decision by choosing to send Ohio State to the 1974 Rose Bowl. I will do this by showing that the Big Ten should not have made the decision at all.

During the 1973 season both Ohio State and the University of Michigan were undefeated going into the final game against each other. The game ended in a 10 all tie, and forced the Big Ten committee to make a decision.

The Big Ten had a policy at the time in which only one team would advance on to a bowl game, that game being the Rose bowl. As only one team was able to go to a bowl, and both teams had a perfect record it was not the Big Ten's place to choose which team was to play in the Rose Bowl. They did however choose the team by placing votes by phone. These votes were anonymous originally and therefore grudges could come out. Michigan State was thought to have voted no for Michigan as Michigan had cast a no vote when Michigan State was attempting to join the Big Ten. Other grudges could come out, and therefore extremely alter the votes. Their are a few options that the Big Ten could have looked at that would have avoided this voting fiasco.

Firstly being would be to take into account the two teams points for and points against stats. This would accurately show the strength of the two teams offense, defense, and special teams.

Secondly the difficulty of the teams schedule could be taken into account. Depending on which team had a more difficult schedule it would show which team was able to still win against better teams.

Finally, the least advisable way, would be for the two teams to have a "playoff" match. In which the winner would go on to play in the Rose Bowl.

In closing the Big Ten committee was wrong in choosing which team was to play in the 1974 Rose Bowl as they should have not even made the decision. Their were far better ways to make the decision.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank my opponent for accepting the debate and for his lucid opening statement. It was so well reasoned that I can find little to argue against. I too find it unacceptable that a winner was voted and therefore cannot disagree on this point. Similarly, I concur with his contention that a playoff would have been a poor way of choosing because presumably their November showdown in Ann Arbor was the playoff.

I will confine myself to arguing from one angle: The Big Ten Conference neglected to detail an acceptable system of tiebreakers. They committed to hoping for an outright winner, falling back on the head-to-head result as a first tiebreaker, and finally resorting to a vote. The Big Ten was committed to voting between Ohio State and Michigan.
My argument will proceed in two parts. The first shall consist of what factors the commissioners should consider. The second part shall be a demonstration that, according to the relevant factors, Ohio State was the superior choice.

If the individual commissioners were given instructions on how to vote, there appears to be no record of it. This left them at liberty to use any reasoning that struck their fancy. They could cast their vote for the school nearer the equator, or the school in the state with the greater number of cities that rhyme with ‘Hoyt'. My opponent has correctly pointed out this problem already. I contend that the vote of each commissioner should be governed by the spirit of the first two selectors, conference record and outcome in the head-to-head battle. On the field, the athletes struggled to win and the selection process recognized this and rewarded those who accomplished their objectives most often. The final selector should be in the spirit of the first two. But what criteria are nearest this spirit of achievement?

1. The single best criterion would be the team that the commissioners felt was the better team. What criterion could be in better keeping with the whole process?

2. Another criterion, inferior to the first, would pick the team seen as more likely to win the Rose Bowl. For instance, though one team is judged to be better overall, it might be decided that the lesser had, due to quirks of the match up, a better chance of winning. A coach, in the same vein, may choose to play a quarterback he knows to be a poorer overall performer if that quarterback's particular strength will do more damage to a particular defense.

3. A third criterion would be to reward the team that had made it through the tougher schedule. This is a fair criterion, but not a great one. At the time a game is scheduled it is not certain how good another team will be when the time comes to play. Second, a team may seek to schedule a tough opponent without success. Third, The Big Ten then, as now, did not play a round robin, and one team might be unfairly penalized for not having a relatively stronger competitor simply because of where they were in the scheduling cycle. In this way teams might be penalized for things that are quite out of their control.

Without a reasonable addition that occurs to me, we may now evaluate the two teams.

The third flawed criterion perhaps favors Michigan by a minute amount. The Big Ten team that Ohio State did not play was Purdue(4-4, 5-6). Michigan did not play Northwestern(4-4, 4-7 ). Purdue beat Northwestern 21-10, albeit in West Lafayette. The out-of-conference schedule is likewise close. Ohio State played the Pac 8 #4 while Michigan played the Pac 8 #3 and #7. Ohio State played TCU( 3-8), while Michigan played one extra game against a Navy (4-7) squad that won only one game against a non-military school (Syracuse, 2-9). Perhaps we can say Michigan wins by a hair in a category that should have the weight of a hair in the selection process.

A better criterion is which team was more likely to win the Rose Bowl. While this is, in isolation, a mediocre criterion, it does preserve the competition of the sport and given a tie at the top, it is not unreasonable to give it some weight. The largest part of winning is being a top performing team, but since that is itself the first criterion, we shall here examine only those quirky conditions which may help or hinder a team regardless of its ability.

Ohio State is a clear favorite, even overwhelming. While I can think of no advantage for Michigan, there are two very good reasons to believe that Ohio State would do better. Ohio State's coach had more experience and had won three Rose Bowls. Though admittedly he had lost his last two, he had a winning record in the contest. Bo had lost his two Rose Bowls (and indeed would lose three more before finally triumphing).

Ohio State was a healthy team while Michigan's quarterback suffered a broken collarbone late in the fourth quarter and was doubtful for the Rose Bowl. The choice was between a healthy team with a coach with a winning record in the Rose Bowl and a team without their first string quarterback and with a coach who had yet to win a bowl game in two tries. Experience and roster play heavily in Ohio State's favor here.

Finally, we come to the overwhelmingly most important criterion: which was the better team? On the day they played, they came to a 10-10 tie… in Ann Arbor. Furthermore, while Michigan quarterback Dennis Franklin missed a few minutes at the end of the game, Ohio State's Cornelius Greene played the whole game with an injured thumb in his throwing hand and did not attempt a single pass. Those familiar with Woody Hayes will point out that Ohio State was not known for passing, and this was rarely more true than in 1973, but Cornelius Greene did pass when he was healthy. The ability to mix in a few passes, at the right times, would have aided Ohio State in the contest. For instance, in the third quarter, with Ohio State leading 10-0, the Buckeyes were facing 4rth and 2 on the Michigan 34. Cornelius Greene ran a busted option for about five and a half feet. Might not a credible passing threat have aided them when they were on the fringe of field goal territory?

Which team could be expected to be better come January 1st? Past behavior being the best predictor of future behavior, let's look at the rest of the season.

Ohio State had given up 43 (4.3/game) points on the season; Michigan had given up 68 (6.2/game) points. Michigan scored 330 (30/game) points; Ohio State scored 371 (37.1/game) points in one fewer game.

They both played Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan State and Iowa, with Ohio State playing Minnesota, Iowa and MSU in Columbus and the Wolverines getting Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois in The Big House. Michigan beat Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois by 29, 36 and 15 points respectively; Ohio State bested them by 24, 30 and 30. Ohio State, at home, defeated Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan State by margins of 49, 42 and 35 respectively, while Michigan beat them by 27, 24 and 31.

We are left with this: Michigan has an advantage in a category which should carry no weight, and an advantage that, without a microscope, is indistinguishable from a tie in a category which perhaps should get some small consideration. Ohio State, in a moderately important category, has a great advantage as well as a distinct advantage in what must be far and away the most important category of all: they were the better team throughout the season.

Finally, we might yet look at the Rose Bowl outcome to see, ex post facto, if The Big Ten did indeed get it right when they chose Ohio State. The Buckeyes defeated the Trojans 42-21, giving The Big Ten their only Rose Bowl victory of the 1970's. The Big Ten voted to send Ohio State, the better team overall and the fitter team to take on USC, and the Buckeyes proved them right by winning big in Pasadena over the likes of Lynn Swann, Anthony Davis and Pat Hayden.

I thank my opponent for accepting the debate and I eagerly await his reply.


xxdarkxx forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


I hope my opponent is able to get an argument in for the final round. I shall use this round simply to reiterate, in simplified fashion, my arguments from the first round.

The debate is about whether or not The Big Ten Commissioners chose correctly in sending Ohio State to the Rose Bowl in 1974.

Ohio State and Michigan tied for first in the conference, and tied when they met on the field. This necessitated a vote, however regrettable such a situation was.

In choosing between two tied teams, it made more sense to send the team that was seen as better. It also might make some sense to see which had a better chance of beating USC on January 1st.

There is good reason to believe that Ohio State was a better team than Michigan in 1973. They scored more points per game, gave up fewer points per game, and performed better against the same opponents. They also tied in Ann Arbor, a site which one would expect to favor Michigan, and did so with an injured quarterback, while Michigan's played virtually the entire game healthy.

There is also good reason to believe that Ohio State was more likely to defeat USC than Michigan. They had a coach with more experience who had a winning record, at the time, in the Rose Bowl. Michigan's coach was winless in two tries. Ohio State's quarterback would be fully healthy come January, while Michigan's was not expected to recover in time from a broken collarbone.

Finally, ex post facto, we can note that Ohio State did indeed win that Rose Bowl, by 42-21, and gave The Big Ten its only Rose Bowl win of that decade. The Big Ten sent the better team, also the team more likely to win, and they proved The Big Ten right in their choice.

I await my opponent's reply.


xxdarkxx forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by xxdarkxx 6 years ago
@Atheism yeah i don't particularly expect anyone to vote for me... i rather just lost interest in this debate and yeah..
Posted by Atheism 6 years ago
I am sorry, but I must vote for gocrew.
You forfeited two rounds, how am I supposed to award any points?
Posted by xxdarkxx 6 years ago
If this is up later I might take it though.
Posted by xxdarkxx 6 years ago
VVV lol he'll rip you apart
Posted by Korashk 6 years ago
Send a direct challenge to the user zGodMode
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Atheism 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Vote Placed by gocrew 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:30