Washington head coach Chris Petersen raised an issue about the way Pac-12 games are scheduled on a regular basis last week. This week, it’s Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer sharing his concerns about his team’s schedule.
“I understand TV contracts are kind of ruling, but when you start talking about student-athletes, they shouldn’t have to play four night games on the road,” Meyer said, according to The Blade. “I talked to [Ohio State director of athletics] Gene Smith about it and I’m going to bring it up to [Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany]. We’ll find out if we really do care about getting home at four o’clock in the morning four times. You don’t do that.”
Ohio State has already played three primetime games, including two on the road. Ohio State opened the season on a Thursday night against Indiana and followed that up with a home game in primetime against Oklahoma. The Buckeyes recently played a road game at Rutgers in another primetime game. The Buckeyes are scheduled to play under the lights this Saturday at Nebraska for the fourth primetime game of the year, and third on the road. Start times for three of Ohio State’s final four game shave yet to be determined, although games against Penn State (3:30 p.m. ET) and Michigan (12:00 p.m. ET) have been locked in.
Meyer has a legitimate concern because night games can take a toll on any program. And when the team has a significant distance to travel for those night games, that can be a lingering concern that takes a day or so to recover.
“In my opinion, very strong opinion, when I start thinking about players and what’s expected of them during the week, if you can’t recover, you don’t get those hours back,” Meyer said. “I’m talking about academically, I’m talking about just your body, and the student-athlete welfare. They should not play four night games on the road.”
Meyer would like to see a cap on how many times a team is scheduled to play in primetime on the road moving forward. Getting the Big Ten’s television partners to cooperate on that would be necessary as the TV networks tend to influence when games are played for ratings purposes. The Big Ten has deals in place with both ESPN and FOX Sports and those networks want to use Big Ten programming in primetime regularly. There is also the Big Ten Network, which promised in recent years every Big Ten school will get to play in primetime.
But for now, Petersen and Meyer are in the same boat for similar reasons when it comes to primetime games. Will Meyer be targeted by ESPN the way Petersen was?