Changing the Rules

So, at the moment Ohio State is going to play in the Big-10 Championship game. This is because the athletic directors and presidents of the Big-10 colleges decided to change the rules they had set earlier. What is the effect of this rule change? Well, it sets Ohio State up to legitimately claim entry into the College Football Playoff as the Champion of the Big-10 conference. It pushes Indiana out of the Big-10 Championship game even though they met the required number of games under the rules set before the season started. Since TV revenues for bowl games and playoffs are split between the colleges in the conference, having Ohio State and its tens of thousands of followers in the College Playoff is much more important than who plays in the conference championship.

All of this is well and good supporters say. We simply changed the rules to attain the predicted outcome and the outcome that is best for the conference. Doesn’t do Indiana much good but hey, sometimes you have to take one for the team. The team here being the conference. That means the Indiana players don’t get a chance to be the Big-10 champions; something that has happened only twice (1967 shared with two other teams) since 1896. Think of that, Ohio State, the perennial conference champion, has the rules changed because it means more money for the conference. Meanwhile the Indiana players get to watch the championship game on television even though they have one of the better records in the Big-10. We speak a lot about fairness and justice but it seems convenience and money are what we should really be speaking about. This is made even more interesting in that the CFP playoff committee seemed ready to put Ohio State into the final four based on their current record. No rule change was necessary and Indiana and Northwestern could have played for the championship without upsetting the CFP.

Recently we have seen a lot of rule changing for the sake of convenience but we have to ask, for whose convenience? Is it simply to achieve outcomes desired by whatever powers that be within certain activities, vice allowing in-place rules to stand regardless of the outcome provided. So, why have rules in the first place if you aren’t going to abide by them? Why have laws if you aren’t going to enforce them? It isn’t just politics where we fold, spindle and mutilate things to achieve desired outcomes.

What was wrong with Indiana and Northwestern playing in the championship game? Why strip the Indiana players of what was rightfully their’s? Why change the rules when you don’t have to? Think about it; in thirty years an Indiana player can tell his grandchildren, Yep, almost had the chance to play for the Big-10 championship but the TV Gods intervened and we were cast out. I don’t know about you, but I’m rooting for Northwestern.

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