Green: Oregon vs. Ohio State no Mickey Mouse operation – The Detroit News


Jerry Green, Special to The Detroit News
4:12 p.m. EST January 10, 2015

One of the great ironies of our times is that the same hugely profitable organization that created Mickey Mouse is now pushing the first championship game of an intercollegiate football tournament.

At last!

It is what most everyone wanted. Except, perhaps, the janitors who sweep out the classrooms on the campuses of the University of Oregon and The Ohio State University.

These are the two establishments of higher education that will pit so-called student-athletes in gridiron combat in the first NCAA championship football match to be displayed on E$PN Monday night. Game No. 39, E$PN’s grand climax of the college postseason that included the now-usual array of fleabag bowls such as the Famous Idaho Potato and Duck Commander Independence bowls.

E$PN – proud property of the Disney Corporation that gave birth long ago to Mickey and Minnie Mouse and their pals Donald and Daffy Duck.

Ah, finally, after generations of artificial polling and computer spit-outs, a genuine championship game for intercollegiate football.

We’ve all pined for such a climactic event to determine the most skilled of the nation’s student-athletes. All of us, such as university alumni, E$PN, a variety of sports journalists, Disney, and just the general run-of-the-mill college football addicts.

So who among the actual participants attended classes this past week, lugged their textbooks around campus and pored over their lessons?

And what consumed the interests of the student bodies of these two illustrious universities?

The English lit class or the biology lecture – or the upcoming championship football game?

Swirling green-and-yellow

What is emerging now is a generation of Mortimer Snerds! Remember Mort? The first cousin of Mickey and Daffy and the group.

Mortimer Snerd, for the uninformed, was ventriloquist Edgar Bergen’s dummy – alter-ego to smart-aleck Charlie McCarthy. Wooden. A blockhead.

I know little about Oregon, except the student-athletes wear newly-designed electric green and yellow costumes for each game, courtesy of Nike. Nike has turned that university into its private fashion plates. Whether there are actually classrooms on the campus and/or a curriculum for students, I don’t have the vaguest idea.

Just know that Oregon plays football with a high-octane offense in its swirling green-and-yellow and has an excellent quarterback, Marcus Mariota. Guy is all over the place, speed-dialing his signals. He won the Heisman Trophy, which is attests to his multiple skills.

Trouble for Oregon is that Mariota has a lost a couple of his accomplices from the Rose Bowl semifinal tromping of Florida State just this 2015 New Year’s Day. Darren Carrington caught seven passes from Mariota, two for touchdowns, in that Rose Bowl game. Now he has been banished by Coach Mark Helfrich for testing positive for smoking marijuana, according to news reports.

So I have learned a bit more about University of Oregon: that its student-athletes do indulge in some common campus activities.

I do know much more about The Ohio State University. Have since Woody Hayes was one of the dynamic personalities among the nation’s universities with his fullback-up-the middle style and one-fisted approach. There are classrooms at this university south of the state of Michigan. I know because Woody used to entertain visiting sports journalists inside a classroom, complete with desks and chairs.

Indeed it was in the innards of one of these classrooms that Woody was alleged to have thrown a chair at one of his assistant coaches, a guy named Bo Schembechler. Word is Bo threw the chair back at Woody.

This history lesson came with much of the football tradition back when there were four bowl games, the postseason ended on New Year’s Day – and we sports journalists did not have to struggle to spell E$PN.

And to still the cynical, there was encouraging word out of Columbus this past week that the administration of The Ohio State University actually desired to have its classrooms occupied during the approach of the championship game.

Smart decision

Information is that an educator at The Ohio State University, Wayne Carlson, emailed students that they could risk being cut from courses if they play hooky from classes to attend the championship game in Texas, according to the Associated Press. Carlson, the vice provost for undergraduate studies, said permission to cut classes must be acquired from the various professors.

The AP article said: “Carlson says the school appreciates loyalty to the football team but doesn’t want that to negatively affect students’ academic progress.”

Imagine such a learned declaration here in the 21st Century, despite AP’s split infinitive.

This game is designed to be the inaugural showpiece in E$PN’s college football grab. Disney is said to have agreed to shell out for $7.3 billion for the college championship and New Year’s Day semifinal games until 2027 thereabouts, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The deal includes exclusive E$PN/ABC rights to four other New Year’s bowl games, none of the fleabag category, for eight other high-ranked university teams honored as part of the setup.

And a part of the local appeal of this long-awaited genuine intercollegiate championship game is that Michigan State played footsie this past season with both Oregon and Ohio State.

The buildup has hit such a fever-pitch that E$PN has latched onto the jocular, always smiling Mark Dantonio — as an expert witness.

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