This is usually Free Form Friday, a random daisy chain of football, music, barbeque and pop culture which proudly eschews all semblence of order and cohesion. However, every so often, Free Form Friday becomes a one note symphony of grumpy old college football fan harping. This is just such a Friday, courtesy of Ohio State's athletic department. proud purveyors of bitchcraft since, well, a couple of days ago.
In case you missed it, Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith apparently decided to beat the rush and punk out now on the Buckeyes' 2020-2021 home-and-home series with the Bulldogs a full eight years in advance(H/T leedawg). The reason, according to Greg McGarity, was uncertainty from Ohio State's perspective brought on by the recently announced Pac-12/Big Ten scheduling alliance.
That's all well and good, except that I don't quite see where the two actually conflict. Unless of course Urban Meyer is worried about having to play the Bulldogs coming off the Buckeyes' annual slugfest with Akron/Ohio/Toledo/Miami/Bowling Green. Let's just call this what it is: Urban Meyer politely putting his foot down and insisting upon the same topshelf scheduling he and Jeremy Foley made famous at Florida.* I for one am horrendously disappointed.
Because over the past year or so, as conference expansion/evisceration has taken hold, we have seen a lot of huge matchups called off under the guise of scheduling conflicts. It's not good for college football. It's not good for the fans. It's good for coaches and athletic directors who find it easier to sell 9-3 with a win over Elon or Tennessee Tech or Mercer than 8-4 with a loss to Virginia Tech or Wisconsin or LSU. This latest round of testicle-free scheduling is a Godsend for athletic departments who count on that Sunbelt/MAC opponent for bowl eligibility.
Does the addition of a Pac-12 opponent make keeping the Buckeyes' date with the Bulldogs more difficult? Do Columbus coeds attend football games in sweatshirts!?!? Of course it does! But it doesn't make it impossible. At least not to an extent that is palpable on a day when the players who'll be starting in that 2020 game just graduated from the 5th. friggin'. grade. Is Gene Smith a time traveler? Does he have ESP? If so how did he not know he was presiding over one of the dirtiest programs in college football? I suppose because hindsight is really where Geno shines.
Interestingly, Ohio State has scheduled pretty aggressively in the past. During the last few years they've played nonconference contests against Miami(FL), Southern Cal, and Texas. They're slated to play Cal this season. All of this makes me more inclined to think that Smith, who joked most unfortunately about Jim Tressel's ability to fire him has found in Urban Meyer another head coach who tells him how high to jump and how low to crawl.
I leave you with proof that not everyone from Ohio fears commitment like the Ohio State Athletic Department. I assume that when Gene Smith and Urban Meyer agree to attend a Black Keys concert with you, they're not making any guarantees about sticking around for the encore. Why? Big game against Youngstown State next season. Gotta rest up.
Until later . . .
*Yes, I assume Greg McGarity was in the room for some of those discussions about whether to schedule Skidmore or Sarah Lawrence. And McGarity hasn't exactly been a paragon of cross-sectional scheduling, either. But it's worth noting that the game he appears to have backed out of involved traveling across 3 time zones, and that the logistical challenge of doing so was likely the reason for the change. Greg McGarity will work to schedule tough nonconference games. He just doesn't intend to travel 2300 miles to do so. I can respect that.