Ohio State AD: No plans for football team to take trip

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Rosemont, Ill. — While Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh might be busy planning his next European adventure, the Wolverines’ biggest rival has no intention of following suit.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Monday from Big Ten headquarters just outside of Chicago the odds of the Buckeyes taking a trip similar to the week-long excursion the Wolverines just had to Rome are long.

“No, probably not. We’re comfortable with what we do,” Smith said during a break from the spring joint meetings. “It’s a great trip. Tuscany is one of my favorite vacation places. That’s where I’d go.”

Michigan spent a week in Rome that included sightseeing, team-bonding and even three practices. There were trips to the Colosseum, a stop at a cooking school and a chance to be part of the general audience with Pope Francis.

Smith said that while Ohio State likely wouldn’t be taking its football team to some far-off locale, he did say it is vital for programs to continue to be creative and stay fresh and added his players are all pushing on social media to get rap artist Chance to come to the football building before his show Tuesday night in Columbus.

“They all want to have him walk through (the) Woody Hayes (building) and take pictures and have Chance the rapper at Woody Hayes,” Smith said laughing.

He added he doesn’t get too involved when it comes to planning, but he does get consulted when an idea is “a little close to the edge.”

“I think it’s very important today to be as creative as you can be based upon where you are,” Smith said. “We’re blessed in Columbus with close to 2 million people and the diversity, so we can be creative with that.

“Then people in other towns, smaller towns, how do you make yourself relevant? I think you’ve got to do everything you can to be creative. Whether that’s taking a team somewhere or whether that’s changing the colors of your uniform. All of us laughed at Oregon when they started doing that and they had a pretty sweet run.”

As for Michigan, Harbaugh said last month that future trips are in the works.

“We’re going to do it again next year,” Harbaugh said. “We’d like to either go to South Africa, possibly Rio.

“We’ll get together as a team and decide. I’d really like to go Cape Town. I’d really like to go to Johannesburg. One of those two.”

Hoops schedule tweaks

Football signing periods and schedules were a hot topic on Monday, but basketball scheduling is also drawing some attention.

Last week, Purdue AD Mike Bobinski said he wanted to address protected rivalries while this season’s compacted schedule to accommodate the conference tournament a week early is also being discussed.

That early tournament in New York has created a week off before the start of the NCAA Tournament and other postseason events. Big Ten coaches are now scrambling with what to do during that week.

“Everyone is looking at it differently,” Northwestern AD Jim Phillips said. “Do you play a non-conference game that week, that’s a possibility, but who do you get, who is available? Do you play another conference team in a non-conference game? You have to get creative and then have to take a look at how long of a layoff is too long.”

Phillips also floated the notion of increasing the conference schedule from 18 games to 20.

“When you’re in a conference like the Big Ten Conference it really benefits you by playing more conference games because of the RPI of other programs and the RPI of the conference,” Phillips said. “So I think all that will be discussed.”