116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
If A is greater than B and B is greater than C, A is greater than C.
That's the transitive property of inequality, a pretty spiffy name for something so fundamentally simple.
But it doesn't really apply to sports, where comparing scores is often as useless as a hat on a cat.
However, it recently came to my attention that some people enjoy sports for entertainment value and don't need every aspect of them dissected to dust.
So Saturday night after Penn State beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten football championship game, it occurred to me to make a case for Rutgers as being better than the champs. Never mind Penn State beat the Scarlet Knights 39-0 in New Jersey two weeks earlier.
Rutgers is my go-to team for a laugh.
I went to an old online resource called the College Football Victory Chain Linker. But a click on that took me to a site about how to find a good house-removal company.
But through the power of search engines, I located MyTeamIsBetterThanYourTeam.com. That site says it has been 'taking illogical arguments to absurd extremes since 2008.' Finally, someone on the Internet who admits it.
I plugged in Rutgers and Penn State, and voila! Rutgers beat New Mexico, which beat South Dakota, which beat Illinois State, which beat Northwestern, which beat Iowa, which beat Michigan, which beat Penn State.
Rutgers makes its case: December 4, 2016
Rutgers makes its case: pic.twitter.com/QzqC3BqKBI
— Mike Hlas (@Hlas)
It was my duty to share that with the world, and I did so on Twitter. A lot of people seemed to get a giggle from it. The end.
Except the next day I plugged in Coe College and Ohio State, not expecting a link between a Division III team — albeit one that went 11-1 — and the College Football Playoff-bound Buckeyes.
Oh, how wrong I was. As you can see from the chart accompanying this piece, Coe beat UW-River Falls, which beat UW-Stout, which leads to Penn State beating Ohio State. It covers 22 games.
Coe College > Ohio State in football? December 5, 2016
Coe College > Ohio State in football? pic.twitter.com/r6HD1UGtHt
— Mike Hlas (@Hlas)
Again, I shared that on Twitter. Embarrassingly, it circulated like nothing else I've written or posted. People associated with some of the smaller colleges on the chain — including at least a couple players with the St. Francis (Ill.) Fighting Saints — seemed especially delighted.
Normally, there are voices quick to condemn such nonsense. They are usually lost souls who would chime in by saying Ohio State would demolish Coe or Mayville State or St. Ambrose, as if the chain seriously suggests the Buckeyes aren't better at football than any Division II or D-III team.
But from all the retweets and shares and 'likes' this has gotten, it's as if everyone was in on the same joke, enjoyed it, and left it at that. Which is a Christmas miracle in this angry age.
As a new happiness-creator, I dove back into the matrix. Iowa had a short path over Ohio State, beating Michigan, which beat Penn State, which beat the Buckeyes.
Iowa State tied the six degrees of Kevin Bacon, going Texas Tech-Baylor-Oklahoma State-Pittsburgh-Penn State-Ohio State. Northern Iowa was one round deeper, since it beat Iowa State.
Cornell College, via 32 rounds, outperformed Ohio State. The Rams beat Iowa Wesleyan, who beat Crown College, who beat Minnesota-Morris ... all the way down to Penn State defeating Ohio State.
Alabama, being unbeaten, is untouchable. Right? Not so fast, my friend.
Coe beat A, who beat B, who blah-blah-blah, beat North Carolina, which beat Florida State.
Florida State beat Mississippi State by 45-34, while Alabama defeated Mississippi State by just 48-43.
Everyone is better than everyone else in sports, you see. Which is no way for people to think about themselves. But this is sports, where My Team is Better Than Your Team one way or another.
So congratulations to Coe, Cornell, and everyone else in college football. No one can ever take away your transitive property victories over big, bad Ohio State.