From now until preseason camp starts in August, Land-Grant Holy Land will be writing articles around a different theme every week. This week is all about what we would do if we were in charge of our favorite position group, team, conference, or sport. You can catch up on all of the Theme Week content here and all our “Unpopular Opinion” articles here.
Here. We. Go... I am going to assume that people are or were triggered by the headline above. Hence why it is an unpopular opinion.
And that’s fine, I get it. Most of us (LHGL staffers/readers/listeners) are fans, and the greatest rivalry in sports means a lot to us. But my intent was not to elicit “fanrage”. The headline was not written as clickbait. I genuinely believe that moving The Game – AKA Ohio State vs. Michigan, although I shouldn’t have to tell you – to a primetime slot and a neutral site would infuse new energy into The Rivalry, exposing it to an even larger audience.
Traditionally, The Game kicks off at noon, in late November, and is held at one of the school’s home stadiums. Pretty standard, right? Just about everyone who regularly watches college football is familiar with this annual matchup, its venues, and its time slot, although there have been exceptions, most notably 2006.
In ’06, The Game was dubbed The Game of the Century (No. 1 versus No. 2) and kicked off at 3:30 p.m. ET. But for the most part, *ichigan Stadiu*, The Shoe, and noon are synonymous with OSU vs. TTUN. And no, I did not mean to say the opposite... “Noon” happens at kickoff, not the other way around.
So why would I want to mess with such a glorious tradition? Well, because for starters, night games are awesome. And I want to see my beloved Buckeyes play more of them. How’s that for an eloquent argument? But seriously, primetime matchups get the juices flowing. Imagine how hyped-up fans and even non-fans would be once 8:00 p.m. rolls around. For a game of this magnitude! A full day’s buildup, plenty of other games as a CFB appetizer, eight straight hours of Jim Tressel and/or Urban Meyer speeches on TV... Let’s go!
That being said, I am not locked into a cookie-cutter 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. spot. Heck, start The Game at 6:30 p.m. Ever heard of a little thing called the Super Bowl? That’s right, the most watched annual sporting event in the world gets its own special, standalone start time (6:30, in case that was not made clear). Why can’t we do the same thing for The Game?
But it is not just about these two CFB bluebloods and bitter rivals playing a night game. Sure, I think that would be great, but my unpopular opinion stems from wanting to see a true spectacle. Location and the uniqueness of it all would be paramount. So that is where a neutral site comes into play.
I feel strongly that The Game should be played at various neutral sites, with a different venue/location chosen every three years. Imagine the atmosphere! *ichigan and Ohio Stadium(s) are incredibly special in their own right, but both teams’ fans travel, so crowd should never be a concern. However, November weather will or would be, which means that these neutral sites must have a dome or be in a warm(er) climate.
Pitting the Buckeyes and Wolverines against each other in Lucas Oil (IN), AT&T (TX), and/or Hard Rock Stadium (FL) would give this already prestigious matchup even more of a big-game feel, appealing to the “common” fan. If played in primetime, fans typically have fewer games to choose from, extending The Game’s reach even further.
Another potential perk of playing this game at a neutral site happens to be of the financial variety. Currently, only the home team truly benefits from ticket sales, concessions, etc... I know certain revenue is shared within the Big Ten; you get my point. But if a “third party” was to host The Game, they would likely have to bid on said opportunity or at least provide financial incentive to the schools.
So sure, it might be difficult to plan around the NFL schedule, for example, but tell me Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wouldn’t gladly pay tens of millions of dollars just to host the Buckeyes and Wolverines at Jerry’s World (AT&T Stadium). And then agree to split ticket revenue on top of that. Ohio State football reported $47 million in revenue from tickets sales for the fiscal year 2022, but Jones or Mark Davis (Las Vegas Raiders owner) might offer half that amount just to play in their stadium(s)!
While the financial benefit and additional exposure might be great for The Game, I know that my unpopular opinion is likely just a pipe dream. It seems nearly impossible to end or break a tradition that has existed for decades, especially one like this, that means so much to so many people – including myself. But I’m willing to give it a shot! Because if Ohio State and TTUN had their own version of The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, at least once every three years, I think it would be a big hit and attract even more attention to the greatest rivalry in sports.