When I first heard that Ohio State was considering playing their Spring Game at Paul Brown Stadium, I have to admit, I wasn't thrilled. For a school working on shedding a reputation for rule-breaking and corruption, is playing a game in the home stadium of a den of criminals a good idea? Plus, the name of the school is The Ohio State University, and Cincinnati, as we all know, is in Kentucky. It didn't add up to me.
But then Luke actually helped convince me. If there is a hole in the Recruiting Fortress built around the state, it would be in Cincinnati, so a little extra fortification couldn't hurt, especially since the city already has a
BCS conference school, uh, Big East school that would love to make the jump into prime time. Coach Fedora, (of UNC and Southern Miss) has apparently already taken his team on the road, and nobody at the local booster club or NCAA has freaked out yet. In this age of TV Markets and Brand Management, maybe leaving the comforts of home every once in a while isn't such a bad thing.
And if that's true, hell, why stop at Cincinnati?I came back from my honeymoon in Door County, Wisconsin a few weeks ago. While I was up there, we ended up driving through the Green Bay Packers Tailgate Tour. The Packers would pick a few small towns throughout the state, bring a few players, and hold little events (where we were, players helped with a charity event, then everybody got drunk and ate brats. Wisconsin is pretty great). These aren't necessarily small towns that are in danger of defecting to the Bears or Vikings, but hitting the road helps replant that Packer-Mania seed during the long offseason.
The specific incentives are a little different for a professional team, but "going on tour", so to speak, may not be a horrible idea for a college team, even one that doesn't face a serious recruiting challenge from an in-state neighbor. Holding a practice/charity event at one of Ohio's several large HS stadiums can help re-energize community support around the Buckeyes, and potentially be a powerful recruiting weapon against other B1G schools that think about poaching.
Is there a western PA recruit that you'd like to bring in the fold? Why not hold an event in Steubenville? Worried that the School Up North might try to sneak in and grab a guy from Toledo? Toledo has a few nice HS football stadiums I hear. Even if there isn't a poaching risk, having a practice at the ol' Hall of Fame stadium would just be cool.
There are perfectly legitimate reasons for not wanting to do a lot of travel. The Buckeyes have all sorts of shiny toys and resources back in Columbus, and getting on the bus to work out in Canton means you can't use them. Traveling takes time, and you'd have to be careful to not accidentally leave a shoelace untied, and thus face 12 NCAA violations. For young players though, offseason road trips might help simulate the game experience, and can help infuse the program with energy and positivity.
Afterwards, the rest of us can go grab beers and play cornhole. Why let Wisconsin have all the fun?