In one of the more head scratching moves by the Ohio State athletic department in recent memory, spokesman for the football team Jerry Emig announced Thursday morning that for the first time in years, the annual Ohio State spring game will not be available to watch on live TV. Just days after the Pac-12 announced that they'd be the first conference in the entire country to offer all 12 of their spring games live on television, the Buckeyes elected to go another direction, forcing their fans into online (BTN2Go), radio (97.1 The Fan or on affiliates of the Ohio State radio network), or tape delayed TV alternatives (the Big Ten Network will air an NBC Olympics-esque six hour delayed version that Saturday evening at 7 p.m.).
The move to play Ohio State's 2013 spring game in Cincinnati was a two fold one. Obviously the long overdue structural construction in Ohio Stadium was a necessity, but by having the game in Cincinnati, it allowed Urban Meyer and his staff to further establish recruiting in-roads in that area as well as reap the benefits of increasing their presence amongst the sometimes Kentucky/Cincinnati loyal fans of the area. But by taking the game off television, they lose the ancillary appeal benefits of long distance appeal, a recruiting force the Meyer staff has been taking advantage of since their first days on campus.
While turning to ESPN3 isn't a net negative for schools with the distribution of the WatchESPN app that allows that service to be leveraged on platforms like the XBOX360, PS3, and Roku devices for viewing through television, relying exclusively on the Big Ten Network's online only stream means Ohio State's unable to even keep up with the likes of Texas A&M, Alabama, or even Michigan State, who all will have their 2013 spring games air live on cable TV channels. Hearing the athletic department justify this move in the weeks to come will be interesting to say the least.
A university spokesperson has said the reasoning behind the decision was because both Ohio State and Michigan's spring games are being played on the same day at the same time, so the network elected to air neither in real time. Never mind the fact that the majority of cable operators have 3-4 spill over BTN feeds which could more than accommodate regional broadcasts or the league's relationship with the ESPN family of networks. This version of mutual assured destructions pretty much only ruins things for the fan bases of both schools.