Ohio State Shells Out $3.1 Million for Non-Conference Opponents

By Kyle Rowland on August 22, 2013 at 12:38p
Profitable trips aren't for fans, just teams that will lose.

Buffalo, San Diego State and Florida A&M don't exactly ratchet up the excitement meter for Ohio State fans. Sure, it means football is back. But when you consider the amount of money one has to fork over to watch a game in person, there's a hollow feeling when you walk out of Ohio Stadium after a 56-3 shellacking of Northwest Mars State. 

When you consider that the Buckeyes are paying those three schools a combined $3.1 million, it causes more head scratching.

The Associated Press obtained the game contracts for the three 2013 non-conference games. Buffalo will receive $1 million, San Diego State $1.2 million and Florida A&M $900,000.

If you're going to play bad opponents, you may as well play Ohio MAC schools and/or Youngstown State. That way, the money stays in Ohio. 


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bcarp87's picture

I would be interested to hear from someone who knows how these arrangements work. I wonder if there is some kind of indirect benefit to scheduling these schools. It does seem like a state run organization would want to keep the money in Ohio.

gwalther's picture

As a kid who grew up out of state, yeah, there's an indirect benefit. Ohio State playing schools from other areas, like Florida and California, raises people's awareness of the university in those areas. That's a benefit worth paying for. Well, that and a likely W.

Class of 2008

bcarp87's picture

That makes sense... although I doubt many top recruits are fans of Buffalo, San Diego State, or Florida A&M and hence are not even aware they are playing.
The likely W is irrelevant as there are plenty of likely Ws in Ohio.

That said I wouldn't be shocked if that were part of OSU's motivation.

gwalther's picture

It isn't that people are "fans" of those schools, it's that Ohio State is getting covered by the local press. To recruit top talent, and I'm talking more academic than athletic, this kind of exposure is awesome for the university. 

Class of 2008

William's picture

Or just not schedule scrubs that you have to pay to play you. There are a ton of mid/low-level BCS teams that would provide a better challenge, that you wouldn't have to pay to play. Like a Wake Forest, Duke, Iowa State, Ole Miss, Syracuse, Arizona, NC State or UVa. 

brandonbauer87's picture

You'd have to pay those schools as well. The reason they pay is to have home games. Even low tier BCS teams have a budget to work around. They're not going to give up a home game. The only way you get those opponents is to play and home and home. 

cronimi's picture

Exactly. Although, they might be able to schedule Duke or Wake or UNC for a home-and-home, but play the 'away' game in Charlotte. Great exposure for the Bucks in one of the bigger Southern cities with a lot of quality HS talent, and get to play in an NFL stadium ... which just happens to be ~8 blocks from my office. Sounds like a perfect plan to me!!

hetuck's picture

Do the math. Multiply $6M x 2. Now multiply it by one plus $1M for going to Charlotte. That's why there is such consternation over the six-game home schedule in 2017. OSU has to maximize home games when it can to fund the athletic dept. You do one home and home every season. Geographic bias aside, would you rather play Duke or Texas home and home? Next season's Navy game is an outlier, largely attributable to JT's desire to play a service academy after 9/11. It was originally to be Army with a return trip to Giants Stadium, but they backed out. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

bcarp87's picture

Generally when a BCS conference team plays an out of conference team who is also BCS the other team asks for a home game the following year instead of money.

OSUStu's picture

I always thought it was nice to keep some of this money in-state during the Tressel years.  
However, with our plans to schedule more challenging OOC opponents in future years, this will be much more difficult than it has been in the past.  The choices are limited within Ohio for opponents that would be considered consistently challenging.

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

bcarp87's picture

I am pretty sure our opponents this year were set up when Tressel was the coach.

Poison nuts's picture

Yes, pretty sure you're right. Funny thing is, Brady Hoke was SD State's coach when they were scheduled.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

dja.ohio's picture

Everyone wants wins on their schedule. The guppies that take the cash, need the cash. Mid-level schools, or schools hoping to move up in the rankings aren't interested in even home and home games with power programs. So, we end up with this weak non-conference schedule.  Having to fill a game slot with a FCS school is what really bites; Florida A&M only adds a warm body to the schedule.

bcarp87's picture

Mid-level teams always want home and homes with power programs. Power programs just don't want to lose many home games because they still make boatloads when they pay a team $1M plus to come.
Plus from a football standpoint - where is the upside in OSU playing Boise State 2 years ago or someone like Baylor? You win - "OK you should have". You lose - "You're overrated".

BTBuckeye's picture

Yes. This $$$ should be going to Akron, Miami, Ohio, Kent State, etc.

kholmes's picture

In the end, it probably doesnt make much difference as those smaller Ohio schools are still getting paid by out of state schools for games which brings money back into Ohio offsetting what OSU pays out. Akron plays at Michigan this year, Kent state at LSU and Penn St, Toledo at Missouri and Florida. etc. 

southbymidwest's picture

My dad was in the BGSU administration way back-and the unspoken deal (and to keep Ohio legislators happy) was that OSU played an in-state MAC opponent when it could, as it basically kept that school's athletic department in the black. There was no home and home issue, since the MAC school made more playing at OSU than it would have made playing anyone at home. This year MAC schools will play the likes of LSU, Florida, and others, so they will get their big bucks regardless, I imagine.

chicagobuckeye's picture

HEY! I was there for the hard fought victory against Northwest Mars State and they definitely have some fighters down there. Tough loss for them.

Oldschoolbuck's picture

CHICAGO, NW Mars State is UP there!

chicagobuckeye's picture

Or maybe I was saying that the Sun was at the top, and every planet afterwards was on the way down, or I am completely making this up and typed what I typed. You'll never know. ;)

FROMTHE18's picture

Schedule some big boys so that way we MAKE money...

bcarp87's picture

We make millions even after paying the away team. Much more than if we scheduled home and homes with "big boys"

hetuck's picture

Keep in mind Vanderbilt backed out of a signed contract less than one year before kickoff. That may explain the premium for SDSU. The real head scratcher is FAMU, an FCS school. Are you telling me no MAC, C-USA, Mountain West, or Sun Belt school would take $900K to visit Columbus? And if you go FCS, YSU wouldn't take the money?
My fear is FAMU will be to OSU as the Citadel was to an undefeated 2004 Auburn.  

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi


We allow FAMU to play that role we don't deserve to go unbeaten

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

hail2victors9's picture

Let's just hope that $900k allows them to bring their band.  That would be the only thing remotely close to a competition in Ohio Stadium that day.

Those who stay will be CHAMPIONS!

~Bo Schembechler

brband64's picture

The last I had heard - about two weeks ago - FAMU was considering bringing a pep band to perform in the stands. Their marching band was just reinstated so, even if they were to bring their entire band, it almost certainly would not be representative of the pre-suspension product. I wish the best to the kids and staff who had nothing to do with the tragedy that led to the suspension and, of course, to the family of the victim.

"Maybe the Big Ten is not that bad. Maybe it's pretty damn good.'' ~ Urban Meyer

bcarp87's picture

HAIL - Do you believe in reverse jinxing?

BuckeyeinSavannah's picture

Do you remember all the BS that went along with Savannah State playing OSU and FSU?  Well they got $385,000 from Oklahoma State and $475,000 from Florida State.  That money paid for almost all the athletics at Savannah State that year.  I can see how fans of a much bigger school hate playing smaller school, but I know the smaller schools sometimes depend on it.

yrro's picture

I have a feeling that the FAMU game was originally scheduled to be more of a battle of the BANDS than of football teams. This was before the FAMU band program got dismantled for a serious hazing incident.

NW Buckeye's picture

It had been a long standing policy to schedule in state schools to keep money in state. While the intent was good it drew lots of complaints from the fans and a concentrated effort was made to schedule out of state opponent.
But, a funny thing happened on the way to the field. Quality opponents have their schedule made up years in advance.  And they demand bigger payouts than past opponents.  And, they require a home and home schedule.  Which means OSU has to give up a home game. Also, their attempts to schedule quality out of state opponents have been met with cancelations and other scheduling difficulties causing the mad scramble for opponents like San Diego State.  Basically scheduling is a cluster f***.   And, many of the fans just don't understand why you just can't go out and schedule quality opponents - heck, those quality opponents have to actually want to schedule you at terms that are acceptable for both schools.   Makes for an interesting quagmire.  

N8thegr8's picture

Going out on a limb here but no, the money shouldn't be going to pay Ohio schools to play the Bucks. Getting enough heat already by playing the teams scheduled this year. Could you imagine the outrage people would have by running the gauntlet that is Toledo, Bowling Green, Miami, Kent, Akron, Ohio U? Or even dipping into the FCS and playing Youngstown St? The point of the new B1G policy is to get a better strength of schedule, which isn't to knock the MAC at all as they play great football but a few years back where we did play a few Ohio schools in one season everyone was up in arms about it and complaining about having to pay $79 to see the sacrificial lamb come into the Horseshoe. 

"Play for Ohio State or get beat by Ohio State. That simple." - Kirk Barton 

cronimi's picture

We're paying to see a sacrificial lamb come into the Horseshoe anyway. Are you telling me FAMU is better than YSU? Buffalo is better than Toledo? To be clear, no one is arguing better it is better to pay-to-play Miami U. than host (but not pay) U Miami. Obviously it is preferable to have better competition, esp. in a potential MNC-run year. But IF OSU is going to pay-to-play, better to keep the money in-state.

Nick's picture

I agree we should play at least the bearcats every year so that bUCkeye state stuff will stop. Also teams like Kent State etc can be good teams. KSU went on the road and beat Rutgers last year. 

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

Playing UC every year would serve no purpose other than to give that program undeserved recognition. Let them play Miami.

Buckeyeneer's picture

I agree with Lutefisk, UC has never beaten OSU. Screw 'em for thinking they can hang with us.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

GrayDay's picture

As long as we insist on having a few home-game-only deals we'll only get cupcakes.  The payout to the victim is fine because we actually make more money ourselves in the deal.  Its us crazy fans who'll pay anything to get a seat that get screwed.  Then again, we keep going.  So as long as we're paying well for a few glorified exhibition games, why not let local schools get the money.
Only way to make more money is to replace a cupcake game with a really big deal opponent where both schools make a ton playing a home-and-home series.  Like Texas.  Yes please.

razrback16's picture

We need schedule strength upgrades anyway. I don't want to see us scheduling Ohio MAC opponents. I don't mind warming up with one for the season opener, but I feel like after a MAC opponent, we should play a weaker BCS level opponent like a Colorado, or UConn, etc. then play a bigtime elite opponent, and then another weak BCS opponent before the Big Ten schedule starts.

hooverbad112's picture

I posted this in the Forum after missing this, so I'll repost the rest of what I found:
Some quick research tells me that $1.2 million represents 21% of SDSU athletics' annual operating budget. In 3 hours, San Diego State will rope in 1/5 of the money they need for the entire year to fund 18 sports (6 men's & 12 women's) and the opportunity for more than 250 student-athletes to get an education and continue the pursuit of their sport.
For all the negativity surrounding the big money in college football, it's things like this that get completely overlooked. There's also so much crap given to big-name programs for their early-season scheduling, but it's a huge act of charity when these smaller schools come visit the big guys. Even if they get slaughtered by 30 points, they bring home a very meaningful sum of money at schools where the athletic department is often constantly trying to stay afloat without the big-money alumni base of an Ohio State.
It's a win/win, unless of course you're Michigan and you have to worry about losing to Appalachian State...

Otown Buckeye's picture

If this money was staying in state, it would be far less, as travel expenses eat up a large portion of this money.  That being said, We should never, ever have scheduled a 1-AA opponent....not even  for Youngstown St.

"because we couldn't go for three"

hetuck's picture

I'm old enough to remember when Oregon (frequently), Texas A&M,  Arizona State, and Oklahoma State were paycheck games for OSU. Now, even Northern Illinois is talking about following Vanderbilt's lead and backing out of a game. OSU's scheduler has to walk a delicate balance of number of home games and schedule quality. It took $1.2M to get SDSU to fill Vanderbilt's spot. IIRC, OSU paid Colorado $1.5M. I predict even more games like this in the future. Like I posted above, $6M x 2 > $6m + $1M from a return trip. This math also applies to neutral site games.  

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

I wonder if Meyer would want to play Toledo. He still prefers to call it that "school up north" from his days of being Bowling Green's head coach, just like what he calls the school up north of Toledo.
I'm sure the Toledo athletic department would love to get their hands on one of those million dollar paydays. I know both teams played each other 2 years ago, but I'm sure the schools could set up a game in 2017 or 18, etc.

ep's picture

I, for one, never feel hollow after "a 56-3 shellacking".  In a game like this, you tend to see a lot of the up-and-comers, and a lot of Buckeye highlights.  I'll take a lopsided victory any day of the week, there'll be plenty of time for frayed nerves and wailing during the season.

sloopy88's picture

I agree.  It's never enough of a shellacking for me, especially at the beginning of the season (where we always seem to have one game we can't put away until the fourth quarter). 

Idaho Helga's picture

I think in a few years it's not going to matter as Div 1 is going to split into the BCS conferences and the non ones.  Then there will be much jumping-ship from conferences similar to a couple years ago until the dust settles. At that point then the BCS conferences will all play each other and the level of play and $$$ will come up.  Will it be unfortunate for MAC schools and such?  Absolutely.  But the BC$ conference$ are driving the bus.  It's a really, really nice custom coach with leather and tinted window$.  The non-BCS schools will be driving a retired school bus with no A/C, a loud muffler and 2 cracked windows.  ;(

MN Buckeye's picture

And Alabama plays the creampuffs Georgia State, Chattanooga, Colorado State, and Arkansas.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

I agree.  I'd rather see most of the money stay in Ohio and go to Ohio schools.  Of course there may be times where it is not possible to schedule an in state school like we know what happened with Vandy.  I think they will try to focus more attention on that in the future. 
Ideally would like to see a couple in state schools per year.  A game against a big time program and an out of state game against a school OSU hasn't played against.  I think that would be a good mix.

ChicagoBuckeye33's picture

You know we would never beat NW Mars State 56-3 in the Shoe.  As a member of the SEC West of the Asteroid Belt they have a tough enough schedule without having to make the 8 year trip to earth to play some fat and slow northern team.
And we shouldn't take it personally, they just recruit better on Mars.  It also helps when your players don't require an oxygen based atmosphere to breathe.  And the NWMSU Area 51 (We could fly before you existed, bitches) Little Greens are set to have a great year, so it would be a much closer game.

ChicagoBuckeye33's picture

And yeah, when you put it that way, I would much rather see Cincy or Toledo get rich off us instead of a school that uses Glerbsplecks instead of USD get rich off of us.