COLUMBUS — Sorry, we’re overbooked.
The expansion of the Big Ten football schedule in 2016 has wedged Ohio State into the role of a crammed airliner — with more games scheduled than there are dates available.
Among the little-noticed upshots of the move to nine league games is that OSU will have to drop one of its four scheduled nonconference contests in 2016.
The likely target is a late-September visit from Central Michigan, which would put Ohio State in the odd position of backing out of a deal arranged just last fall but keep intact the two nonleague games with stronger interest locally.
Ohio State will travel to Oklahoma for an intersectional showdown on Sept. 17 and open the season at home on Sept. 3 against Bowling Green State University. The Buckeyes also are scheduled to host Tulsa on Sept. 10.
“BGSU will remain the home opener for 2016,” said Martin Jarmond, OSU executive associate athletic director in an email message, adding that a home-and-home series against Oklahoma will also remain. “We hope to have resolution on the rest of the nonconference slate in the next month.”
OSU is one of four Big Ten schools with an overloaded 2016 nonconference schedule, with the Buckeyes, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Northwestern each following the model of three home games and one road trip.
In a perfect scenario, Jarmond, who was recently put in charge of the Buckeyes’ football scheduling, said OSU would remove its Sept. 24 home game against Central Michigan — a meeting now pegged for what would likely be the first weekend of Big Ten play.
It is unclear if Ohio State is seeking to reschedule the Chippewas or negotiate a buyout. OSU agreed to pay the Chippewas a reported $925,000, the largest payout in CMU history but consistent with the going rate for guarantee games at top BCS programs. BGSU will receive $975,000 for its 2016 trip to Columbus. (Short of a mega payday, a growing number of programs will only schedule games as home-and-home arrangements.)
A spokesman at CMU did not return a message Tuesday.
Beyond 2016, there appear to be no similar headaches. At least on OSU’s administrative side. The challenge on Saturdays could be another story.
As college football moves to a four-team playoff, the Buckeyes are beefing up their schedule.
Athletic director Gene Smith has said OSU eventually wants to play all of its nonconference games against schools from the six power conferences — a modern-day anomaly. Last season, no team that finished in the top five played more than one nonconference game against a BCS program while there were only two nonconference games between teams in the AP preseason top 20 — Alabama-Michigan and Clemson-South Carolina.
As scheduled now, OSU in 2018 would play Cincinnati and North Carolina at Ohio Stadium and travel to Texas Christian before playing its conference schedule. From 2016 through 2023, the Buckeyes have home-and-home series scheduled against Oklahoma, North Carolina, TCU, Oregon, Boston College, and Texas.
Contact David Briggs at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6084, or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.