Urban Meyer feels Chris Petersen’s pain.
Last week, Petersen voiced his displeasure with the number of night games Washington is playing this season. Meyer, with his Ohio State team looking on track to play four road conference night games (the start time for OSU’s trip to Iowa hasn’t been announced yet), isn’t a fan of the way the schedule has taken shape.
Specifically, Meyer said the discrepancy between home and road night games this season bothers him, specifically how it affects his players.
“It sure does. I understand TV contracts rule, but when you start talking about student-athletes, they shouldn’t have to play four night games on the road,” Meyer said. “I’ve talked to (athletic director) Gene Smith about it, and I’ll bring it up to our commissioner. We’ll find out if we really do care about getting home at 4 o’clock in the morning four times.”
Ohio State’s trip to Nebraska this weekend will be its third straight road conference night game after opening the season with a Thursday night game at Indiana and kicking off at 7:30 p.m. ET at Rutgers on Sept. 30.
Meyer understands the benefit night games have for the conference, but reiterated the toll it takes on student-athletes.
“I think night games have helped the Big Ten. Obviously coaches aren’t involved in the television contracts and all that but there should be a maximum of two on the road in my opinion,” Meyer said. “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. I’m talking about academically. I’m talking about just your body and just the student-athlete welfare. There’s no way they should play four night games on the road.”
OSU’s non-conference home game against Oklahoma was a primetime kick, but every conference game so far has been played in the afternoon. The Oct. 28 showdown with Penn State is already scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET, but the Illinois and Michigan State start times have not yet been announced, so things could even out a bit.
“It’s very tough on the body, but, again, we came back in after we played Rutgers and came back in at 4:30,” center Billy Price said. “I was up at 9:30 the next day. Couple hours of sleep.”
“It throws your sleep and everything off for the next couple days pretty much,” tackle Jamarco Jones said. “You go to bed at 5 A.M. and … usually it’s hard for me to sleep when we get back from night games because it’s morning time. Yeah, it throws me off completely.”
Night games are just part of the equation in college football these days, especially for a perennial contender like Ohio State. However, four conference road night games (again, the Iowa game has not been confirmed as a late start) would be more than at any point during Meyer’s tenure.
Here’s the night game breakdown of Meyer’s other seasons at Ohio State (all Big Ten games at 7:30 or 8 p.m. ET unless noted):
2016: Three road (1 non-con), one home — 4 total
2015: Two road (1 non-con), two home — 4 total
2014: Two road, three home (2 non-con — 1 at 6 p.m. ET) — 5 total
2013: Two road (1 non-con), two home — 4 total
2012: Two road (1 at 5:30 p.m. ET), one home — 3 total
It’s not unprecedented for Ohio State to have more road night games than home night games, but the projected discrepancy for 2017 would be the most significant so far during Meyer’s tenure. And if OSU’s trip to Iowa and Michigan State’s trip to OSU both get nighttime slots, the Buckeyes would play half of its regular season games at night.
That’s a lot.
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