INDIANAPOLIS — The fuse was lit by a simple question regarding Ohio State no longer playing Penn State on an annual basis after the 2024 season.
Buckeye head coach Ryan Day was speaking at Big Ten Media Days on Wednesday and talked about the difficulty in putting the 2024, 2025 football matchups together, saying the Big Ten did the best they could, especially considering one of the goals was getting as many conference teams into the coming 12-team playoff.
Then Day unscrewed the cap on a can of gasoline and dropped the fuse right on in.
And he didn’t even bother yelling “fire in the hole.”
“I’m glad we still have the rivalry game,” Day said of the Michigan game. “I do think we should consider when we play it, just because you may end up playing them back-to-back weeks, which would be awkward. We need to consider the tradition, but I think it’s worth a conversation on when, because I think that’s significant on just how the season plays out.”
You think what now?
An Ohio State coach even suggesting that a discussion should take place about the possibility of talking about just the idea of moving The Game is grounds for a bad mark in his personnel file.
“I think it’s worth a long discussion about where that game should be placed,” Day said. “If it was the same way as it was this past year, we’d be playing back-to-back games. And then who knows, maybe even playing again in the playoffs. I just think that needs to be taken into consideration. Not that we should move it, but I think it’s worth talking about.”
There is no doubt, however, that simply wanting to talk about it will be seen as absolutely wanting to do it. Fortunately for Day, he kind of went with the infallible “I’m not saying, I’m just saying…” tactic. Still, these comments will no doubt fire up the Michigan fans, who will see the idea as a sign of weakness.
Of course, we all know that a real sign of weakness would be declining to play the game entirely, but let’s digress.
Because they come from a place of wanting to keep the rivalry as elevated as it has always been, Day’s thoughts on the matter shouldn’t be dismissed immediately.
He is just trying to make sure the game stays as important as it has always been, and nobody understands that more than the two guys coaching in it right now.
“The game could not have an impact on a whole bunch, in terms of if both teams are in the Big Ten Championship Game already,” Day explained. “Could it minimize the game? That’s my concern. Even if you played it week 11 or week 10, no matter what, it’s gonna matter. But if you know you’re playing them in the Big Ten Championship Game already, it could be something that we haven’t experienced before. That’s all.”
Here’s a quick question — if we’re going to talk about moving The Game from the final week of the regular season, what about moving it to the season opener? How about that?
“I’m just going to worry about beating Indiana right now, but it would be crazy,” Day said.
According to Day, there have already been talks about possibly moving The Game, but no hard decisions have been made. He is also not expecting anything to come from the talks any time soon. He just wants to be part of the conversations as they happen.
The good news as he sees it is that the 12-team playoffs will mean that The Game will still have an importance as the Buckeyes and Wolverines possibly jockey for a first-round bye, but will that be enough to keep the game as important as it has always been?
“We’re getting way ahead of ourselves right now, but you want to be in the top four so that you have a bye in the first week, so it would matter, but just not the way you and I know the game,” he said. “It’s going to be a new experience.”
The idea of moving The Game to avoid playing in back-to-back weeks is fine and may benefit the stakes of the matchup when both teams make it to the Big Ten Championship Game, but what kind of harm would be done to The Game in the seasons when the two teams don’t meet in the championship game?
For that reason alone, things should stay the way they are. Let’s see how these two years play out before we decide if any changes are needed.