CHICAGO - A tiny, single-line entry in the freshly printed Ohio State football media guide went virtually unnoticed at the Big Ten preseason meetings here the past couple of days, but created its own little buzz in other circles.
The schedule for 2008 shows the Buckeyes will play a Sept. 20 game in Ohio Stadium with the University of Toledo, but Rockets fans should not point their cars south down U.S. 23 just yet. While the Buckeyes' book indicates the game is already set, the folks on the Toledo side of the ball have called a timeout and indicated that at this point it is not likely to happen.
"We looked at it and we had some conversations, but nothing evolved," UT athletic director Mike O'Brien said. "This is bizarre, because we told them we're not playing, and there's no signed contract."
O'Brien said he has spoken a number of times with Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, as well as with a multitude of other schools, about future schedules. "But right now we're not planning for that game," O'Brien said.
Tressel said yesterday that discussions had taken place about playing the Rockets at some point, and with the permanent addition of a 12th game to the college football season starting in 2006, he would prefer to play the extra game in Columbus, and see in-state schools such as UT on the Ohio State schedule.
"I was hoping by August first to be able to come out and say here's our next four years - and we're getting close," Tressel said. "Our goal is to make that 12th game one with somebody from the Mid-American Conference, someone from here in Ohio, or someone with a regional connection. We would like to help the people in our state."
UT coach Tom Amstutz yesterday said, tongue-in-cheek, that he would be happy to play the Buckeyes, as long as he has some input on the venue.
"I'll play them - if they come to our stadium," Amstutz said. "But as far as that game goes, I haven't heard anything about it. Nothing. But sometimes the coach is the last to know."
UT's next Big Ten opponent will be Purdue in 2007. The Buckeyes are set to play MAC teams in the next three years, opening in Columbus with Miami this season, Northern Illinois in 2006, and hosting Akron in 2007.