My advice for Ohio State football fans is to buy warm clothes. And blankets, too.
More night games are coming this year. Even more are certainly in the Buckeyes’ future.
When Ohio State’s 2013 football schedule was announced last week, it included three night games. Two of them will be at Ohio Stadium, which is the first time OSU has ever played two home games at night.
This year’s games with late starts are all in September and October. But Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said he could see a time in the future when the Buckeyes could play at night in three home games and one on the road.
Smith said that would require the Big Ten dropping its current prohibition against night games in November.
He said discussions among Big Ten administrators have been “highly positive” about considering November night games.
So, it is not difficult to see where that is heading. As soon as the Big Ten allows night games in November, it will take about as long as Usain Bolt needs to run 100 meters for the Ohio State-Michigan game to be moved to night time.
Traditionalists don’t like night games. But television networks love them. Translation: Brutus Buckeye would have a better chance of tackling Braxton Miller in the open field than tradition has of stopping ESPN from moving kickoffs to prime time.
If television has the biggest footprint in this move toward more night games for Ohio State, the second-biggest one probably belongs to Urban Meyer, a big fan of playing under the lights.
He called the atmosphere “electric” when Ohio State beat Nebraska 63-38 at night last season with more than 20 committed and prospective recruits in attendance.
“As much respect as I have for the traditionalists, I want the 18-year-old to walk out of that stadium and go ‘Whoa. I’ve got to be there,’" Meyer said earlier this year. “I don’t want them to have to get up at four in the morning every time and drive to come to our games.
“Recruiting, recruiting, recruiting. Then you know what’s most important after recruiting? Recruiting,” he said.
If more night games are a loss for the traditionalists, then the new Big Ten alignment, with the East and West divisions replacing the Leaders and Legends divisions, contains at least a partial win for them.
True, you look at Ohio State playing Rutgers and Maryland every year and think, is this all Big Ten expansion has produced? Was anyone really clamoring for fewer Ohio State-Wisconsin games to get more OSU-Rutgers matchups?
But by ditching the Legends and Leaders divisions (and how much did some marketing firm get for those names?), the Big Ten has ensured the Ohio State-Michigan game will remain at the end of the schedule and that it has the potential to mean a lot every year.
With OSU and Michigan in the same division in 2014, there will be no possibility of them playing two weeks in a row, in a regular-season game and then in the Big Ten championship game, as there is with them in opposite divisions.
That’s a good thing. Another good thing, even though it won’t stop you from shivering through a November night game, is that at least the Big Ten still has preserved some traditions.
Look around college football and you see that bitter rivals Texas and Texas A&M are not playing each other. The legendary Oklahoma-Nebraska rivalry is no more. Kansas against Missouri was an historic rivalry, at least to the schools involved, but “was” is the key word now.
Compared to that, losing a few afternoon games doesn’t look so bad.