Next year not only does Division I college football move to a 12-team playoff, but USC and UCLA will be joining the Big Ten, and earlier this week it was announced that Texas and Oklahoma would be allowed to leave the Big 12 early for the SEC. With all of those changes on the horizon, moves are already being made to ready programs for a drastically different college football.
While it is exciting to see an expanded playoff, as well as how the Big Ten and SEC will look with each conference adding two schools, there are some downsides to all the changes. On Wednesday, Ohio State cancelled their home-and-home series with Washington that was to be played over the 2024 and 2025 football seasons.
Ohio State said they are cancelling the series, and will add an eighth home game to the 2024 schedule to fund the $500,000 penalty for breaking the contract with Washington. You just know Ohio State is going to add some lame buy-game against <insert random MAC team>. So now the Buckeyes are going to have to pay Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, or some other Group of Five school to come to Columbus to get their faces caved in so they can pay Washington a buyout.
I can already see what’s going to happen. The game will probably be a noon game that nobody wants to go to because it’s early September so it’ll still be 90 degrees, which will feel like 140 degrees in the stadium. The school will have to beg people to come out for the game because Ohio State has priced a lot of their fans out of being able to go to games.
Remember that Tulsa game a couple years ago where like 70,000 fans were in attendance? I took my mom and step-dad to the game and spent way too much on decent seats to try and make their first Ohio State game memorable, and then the team didn’t even show up for three quarters.
Even if Ohio State gets a home playoff game, you just know the school doesn’t want it to be played in Columbus. Instead, Ohio State would probably be happier if they could play the game in a controlled environment at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Possibly having football games in December at Ohio Stadium might force the school to winterize the plumbing and do maintenance on the stadium.
But, they are already trying to get ahead of that by charging a “Ohio Stadium preservation fee”. Unsurprisingly, the fans are the ones that are supposed to foot the bill for this one, and not noted grifter “Da Schott” or sex pest Les Wexner.
The cancellation of the Washington series feels like the first of many cancellations we are going to see in the future, not only from Ohio State, but around college football. The Buckeyes are scheduled to play home-and-home series with Texas, Alabama, Georgia, and Oregon over the next decade. Honestly, I’d be surprised if even half of those series are played.
With the expansion of the College Football Playoff to 12 teams, there really is no incentive for high-profile games to be played by perennial playoff teams. For the Georgias, Alabamas, and Ohio States of the college football world, what do these teams have to gain by risking a loss by playing each other during the non-conference portion of their schedule?
Unless the blue bloods of college football screw up royally during the regular season, they are pretty much assured of having a spot in the playoff. The only real thing they have to worry about is whether or not they get a bye in the first round, and even if they don’t they’ll likely be hosting that game on campus.
Another reason you are likely going to see more of these previously scheduled home-and-home series cancelled is because of conferences and television contracts. I have absolutely no inside information about why Ohio State cancelled their series with Washington, but at first glance I have to imagine it’s because the Big Ten is bringing in USC and UCLA.
Now that Ohio State has Sept. 7 and Sept. 14 open on their schedule, it would make sense for the Buckeyes to welcome either the Trojans or Bruins into the conference by playing one of those new members. You already know the conference is salivating at their cash cow squaring off with one of their new toys.
Who knows, maybe I’m wrong about everything. Maybe Washington is the only series that Ohio State cancels. It doesn’t feel like it’s trending that way, though. For not even reaching 40 years old yet, the cranky old man in me is probably a little too strong for my own good. I’ve never been good at dealing with change. Between so many games being on FOX now, getting constantly told how Ohio State needs us to do more in NIL, and a number of other things, it feels like I hardly recognize college football any more.
I just want to see great games played between big schools, and I don’t really care what time of year it happens. The more you give me, the more I’ll watch. I remember being at the 2005 game under the lights against Texas at Ohio Stadium. Give me more of those games, except just make the result a little different.
I want games to actually care about. Sorry Western Kentucky or Arkansas State, y’all just don’t do it for me. But enjoy this big check for the beating you’re about to take.