Sitting from his office in Columbus, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has been able to see just how dangerous a night game at Iowa can be. Last season, Iowa upset Michigan with the first loss suffered by the Wolverines setting off a wild finale to the Big Ten season. Earlier this season, a night game at Iowa nearly caught Penn State before the Nittany Lions managed to get out of Kinnick Stadium with a last-second victory. Knowing the history of Kinnick Stadium at night, Meyer may have managed to successfully lobby himself from having to play a night game at Iowa.
Big Ten kickoff times for Week 10 have started to come together on Monday, with Minnesota announcing it will host Michigan in primetime on FOX. The decision to have the Gophers and Wolverines in primetime was a tad puzzling considering two of the other game son the Big Ten schedule that day. Penn State is playing at Michigan State and Ohio State is playing — you guessed it — at Iowa.
The Buckeyes will be playing at either noon or 3:30 p.m. eastern on November 4, with the Nittany Lions and Spartans likely to be slotted in the other timeslot. The speculation is the 3:30 p.m. ET slot will be reserved for the winner of this week’s Ohio State-Penn State matchup, as the game will likely begin to take more weight in the College Football Playoff picture on top of the Big Ten championship hunt.
Meyer addressed concerns about playing so many road games at night this season, and perhaps the conference is responding to his concerns. Ohio State has already played four primetime games, including three on the road (Indiana, Rutgers, Nebraska). If not for the World Series coverage this weekend, odds are good the home game against Penn State would have been a lock for primetime as well. Ohio State also played a primetime game earlier this year against Oklahoma. But Meyer’s chief concern was playing so many night games on the road, as it becomes quite tiresome for players.
Was Meyer looking forward all along to prevent Ohio State from having to play a night game at Iowa? Regardless of the motive, the Buckeyes will not have to test the fates under the lights at Kinnick Stadium in two weeks.
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?
When you really think about it, a watch list for a college football award is nothing more than a way to keep public relations staffers in college football programs busy this summer. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it is nice to have a number of key players for the upcoming season highlighted whenever possible (unless you are a Big Ten team going to Big Ten media days). But a watch list is generally pretty pointles sin the long run for most awards. This is especially true for a watch list of college football coaches.
The Dodd Trophy watch list was released today with a list of 19 coaches from many of the top programs around the country. Yep, a watch list for head coaches. Silly, right? It really is the easiest watch list to put together.
The award watch list, compiled by the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, includes four coaches from the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, two coaches from the Big 12 and one from the American Athletic Conference. You know all of the names, like national championship coaches Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Dabo Swinney; household names like Jim Harbaugh, Mark Richt, Bill Snyder, and Chris Petersen; and conference championship coaches like David Shaw, James Franklin.
Some notable names not on the list? How about Jimbo Fisher of Florida State? Fisher has a playoff contender in Tallahassee and is the ACC favorite. He also has a national championship ring. Not having Fisher on a preseason watch list for top coaches seems like a bad oversight. Not having new Big 12 coaches Tom Herman (Texas) and Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma) also feels like a swing and a miss if pulling together a list of potential coach of the year candidates. If we are not going to just list all 130 head coaches in FBS, it seems silly to have such a weird collection of watch list candidates when Butch Jones is on the list.
Five coaches on the watch list are former winners of the Dodd Trophy; Snyder, Petersen, Swinney, Saban, and Paul Johnson. Paul Chryst, Ken Niumatalolo, and Petersen were finalists for the award last season as well.
2017 Dodd Trophy Watch List
- Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
- James Franklin, Penn State
- Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech
- Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
- Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
- Clay Helton, USC
- Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
- Butch Jones, Tennessee
- Gus Malzahn, Auburn
- Jim McElwain, Florida
- Urban Meyer, Ohio State
- Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
- Chris Petersen, Washington
- Mark Richt, Miami
- Nick Saban, Alabama
- David Shaw, Stanford
- Bill Snyder, Kansas State
- Dabo Swinney, Clemson
- Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Texas head coach Tom Herman and former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones may forever be tied together thanks to Ohio State’s run to a national championship in the 2014 season, the first year of the College Football Playoff. Herman, as a quarterback coach for the Buckeyes at the time, was a big influence on Jones, who had stepped in for an injured J.T. Barrett at the end of the season and the postseason run. Now, Herman is carving time out of his schedule as the Longhorns head coach to return to Columbus in a show of support for Jones.
As reported by Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com, Herman turned down an invitation to join Migos and Chance the Rapper at a concert in Austin so he could be there for the graduation ceremony for Jones.
“They told me Migos and Chance the Rapper were gonna be here (in Austin) on Sunday, the seventh and wanted to meet me,” Herman said to Feldman. “I said ‘No, I’m gonna be in Columbus.”
That should be a good testament for how much the relationship the each and player have to this day. It turns out, as Herman explained to Feldman in the interview, Herman was a big reason why Jones was able to stick with the Buckeyes as long as he did.
“[Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer] wanted to kick him out of the program multiple times. It fell on me and Michelle, and so to see him get where he has got and mature the way that he has matured,” Herman explained. “Wow. It’s what we always talked about. You don’t have to be stuffy and buttoned-up to know when to say what and keep your mouth shut.”
If Herman is responsible for keeping Jones in check, then maybe Herman deserves a little more credit for Ohio State’s run to the College Football Playoff national championship than suspected.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer takes great pride in coaching the Buckeyes and keeping some of the state’s top high school talent in Columbus. Considering the depth of talent throughout the state, it is no wonder why he would want to do so. As Ohio State puts the finishing touches on its Class of 2017, Meyer will look back at a strong recruiting effort that will net one of the top classes in the country, but he cannot help but regret not getting more players from Ohio to be a part of the recruiting class.
Ohio State’s Class of 2017 includes seven players from the state, including four of the top 10 players from the state. Among those are the state’s top two recruits according to Rivals, offensive lineman Josh Myers and athlete Brendon White. Wide receiver Jaylen Harris and defensive back Amir Riep are the other top 10 Ohio recruits to commit to Ohio State. For the sake of comparison, Ohio State’s Class of 2016 included four of the state’s top 10 recruits as well. Ideally, Meyer admitted, he would like to see roughly half of his recruiting class made up of Ohio players.
The tradeoff, of course, is excelling with recruiting efforts in other states and regions that have helped Ohio State construct a roster that helps separate them from the rest of the Big Ten (and win a national championship). That’s a pretty solid tradeoff. Ohio State’s Class of 2017 is highlighted by a five-star defensive back from Florida (Shaun Wade), a five-star offensive lineman from California (Wyatt Davis), a five-star defensive end from Maryland (Chase Young) and a five-star defensive back from Texas (Jeffrey Okudah), just to name a few. None of the six five-star players to sign with Ohio State hail from Ohio. In fact, no recruit from the state was given a five-star ranking by Rivals, although there were plenty of four-star players to choose from.
More often than not, Ohio State is going to get the cream of the crop from the state of Ohio. Top players in the state will always go elsewhere, like athlete JaVonte Richardson heading to Kentucky, quarterback Sean Clifford going to Penn State and defensive end James Hudson going north to Michigan this year, but the Buckeyes will always have a strong recruiting base right in their backyard. Meyer knows keeping strong connections in the state are essential, but some years he will have to go out of state to put together the best possible class he can.