Sticking with this week’s theme of “If I Was In Charge”, I have come up with three things I would do related to Ohio State non-conference football scheduling. The B1G is reportedly trying to determine what the future schedules are going to look like for 2024 and beyond, with different proposals around how many protected rivalries will remain. Considering USC and UCLA will be joining The B1G in 2024, it would not shock me if the conference moved to 10 conference games, as there will be 16 teams in the conference.
I was also prompted to write about this, with the recent news from Ohio State about their upcoming non-conference opponents in Charlotte, Nevada, and Western Michigan in future seasons.
I am going to focus on the idea that every team within The B1G will have three non-conference opponents. Below are three things I would do as it relates to Ohio State’s scheduling philosophies...
- No more FCS opponents
With all apologies to former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, Ohio State should not be playing Youngstown State on Sept. 9. Ohio State should not have played Youngstown State back in 2007 or 2008, either.
My respect for Jim Tressel is immense, and I certainly understand why there might be some type of sentimental rationale for Ohio State scheduling Youngstown State. Here are the scores from the last two times Ohio State played Youngstown State:
2007: Ohio State 38, Youngstown State 6
2008: Ohio State 43, Youngstown State 0
Those were the scores when Jim Tressel was the Ohio State head coach, and was comfortable playing a conservative, ball-control offense that featured Chris “Beanie” Wells at tailback, probably trying to keep it close, so as to not embarass his former school. What kind of score do you think it will look like with a high-flying passing attack under Ryan Day that features two projected 2024 NFL first round draft choices in Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka?
This game will be done by the end of the first quarter, and Ohio State fans will be grumbling deservedly so about the ticket prices for this one. Aren’t these the kind of scheduling tactics that Ohio State fans grumble about SEC teams doing, especially late in the season?
Again, I understand the traditional point about how this will help fund Youngstown State’s — or any FCS football team’s — respective athletic department. I just believe there are other athletic venues that could help in that endeavor. Ohio State football should not be one of them.
2. Schedule an in-state MAC team for the season opener
I realize that this may seem contradictory, after my first point, but let me explain. The MAC is Division 1 football, while FCS is not. At least a MAC opponent will not look as badly in the eye of public perception as a FCS team, especially if it is in game one of the season.
There are six MAC teams from the state of Ohio that Ohio State could regularly schedule as the season opener — Akron, Bowling Green, Kent State, Miami, Ohio, and Toledo. This would provide tremendous financial support to Ohio teams, and would be a solid way to start off the season, when concerns about first game shakiness or first game jitters could be better managed.
Here is another idea: how about Ohio State going on the road to these places for a non-conference game? In 2009, Ohio State was the road team when they played “at” Toledo in Cleveland Browns Stadium. Perhaps Akron, Bowling Green, Kent State and Toledo could be the “home” team in Cleveland Browns Stadium, hosting the Buckeyes. Maybe Miami could use Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati to host Ohio State.
3. Play a Power 5 team that is geographically close to Columbus
This goes back to where the uncertainty of what the future B1G schedules will look like, as the prevailing thought is there will be nine conference games. Sticking with the theme from my second point, why not try to schedule teams from a Power 5 conference that is relatively close to Ohio State?
Here are some schools that would seem to be ideal scheduling partners for the Buckeyes:
- Pittsburgh, from The ACC.
- Cincinnati and West Virginia, from The Big 12.
- Kentucky, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt, from The SEC.
Scheduling home and home games with these opponents would be exciting for the fans, and would also bolster Ohio State’s schedule resume with the College Football Playoff committee in evaluation time. What do you think about a non-conference schedule that looks like this below?
- Game 1: Home versus Miami University
- Game 2: Home versus Pittsburgh
- Game 3: Away versus Kentucky
I realize that scheduling opponents is a challenging endeavor, but I also believe Ohio State would benefit from implementing these guidelines going forward, especially with the College Football Playoffs’ expansion upon the horizon. I will be anxious to read about what you all think about If I Was In Charge.