The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics about the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about Ohio State potentially playing more early games? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.
It looks like a good number of our big games are going to be noon kicks – what affect will this have on recruiting?
— Eric Stockman (@E13Stocks) May 15, 2019
Ohio State is one of the biggest draws in college football, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a fixture in primetime anymore.
With FOX announcing plans to put more of its high-profile matchups back in the noon slot in the schedule, that almost certainly means the Buckeyes will find themselves more consistently with early starts. And while there are perks for fans in having both a full day to tailgate and for the program with the atmosphere in the evenings potentially being more appealing to recruits, this move could work out in Ohio State’s favor — primarily on the road.
For all the clamoring for more night games that Urban Meyer generated when he arrived at Ohio State, there was an unintended consequence when the program wasn’t in the Horseshoe. The Buckeyes always have a target on their backs and generally create a Super Bowl-like atmosphere with both opposing crowds and players pouring everything they have into that matchup. But that even gets amplified more when the lights are on, and Ohio State was routinely finding itself having to deal with both grueling travel and hostile environments thanks to its ability to command a television audience.
And with a less-than-stellar home schedule a year ago, the Buckeyes didn’t even really get a chance to capitalize on that star power, home-field advantage and recruiting showcase in the Horseshoe. In that regard, there was already some quiet rumbling by the Buckeyes after playing each of its first three road games at night that there might need to be limits, even if it came at the expense of a chance to host multiple night games itself.
So, Ohio State might need to continue to be creative in selling the atmosphere to recruits. And there might be some early wakeup calls for folks prepping for the game in the parking lot or adjusting their viewing schedules at home. But this is probably a tweak that the Buckeyes will embrace and could use to their advantage.
Kicking off at noon is generally preferable for coaches instead of having teams sitting around anxious all afternoon. Either home or away, it allows for slightly more recovery time — particularly when there’s a full night of sleep involved afterward. And from a preparation standpoint looking ahead to the next game, wrapping up the game before the sun sets allows for something of a head start.
And when it comes to recruiting, it might also be useful for coaches to maybe spend that time at dinner with official visitors talking about the program instead of being on the sideline trying to win a game. Ohio State’s best sales pitch, after all, is a tradition of success on the field, the ability to develop players for the NFL and a talent-laden coaching staff. The Horseshoe and the passionate fan base are obviously part of the appeal as well, but those are just as meaningful in the daylight.
Maybe spinning the clocks back and returning to more noon kickoffs will require a readjustment. But it’s one the Buckeyes aren’t likely to have a problem making.
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