Don't expect Ohio State to head to Florida for spring practice anytime soon, at least according to the man at the top of the athletic department food chain.
"I think it's a creative idea and I understand that, but I would not be supportive of taking away student athletes' free time to go practice," Gene Smith, the school's athletic director and vice president said Tuesday afternoon, before making a reference to Allen Iverson. "We're talking about spring practice. The reality is I wouldn't do that. I wouldn't support taking that time away from our student athletes."
Michigan made headlines earlier in the month when it held four practices at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, during its university spring break. Urban Meyer said last week the Buckeyes were looking into the idea, but squashed that idea hours before Smith addressed it at a press conference announcing plans for a soccer game at Ohio Stadium in July.
"Would we look into it? We look into everything," Meyer said. "But I can’t see taking spring break away from players. That doesn’t mean we don’t research it and keep an eye on it.
"We look into everything, but we wouldn’t take their free time from them. If there’s someway to do something like that that helps the players, we’d look into it."
Michigan's hire of Jim Harbaugh sent waves across the college football landscape in December 2014, and the coach hasn't stopped doing his best to get his team's name in the news. Meyer has a three-year start in the arm's race that is the Big Ten East, another reason Smith doesn't see a need to explore an option of an out of state spring practice.
"If we were jump starting our program I'd probably try to do that too, but we're not jump starting our program," Smith said. "We're at a different place."
Smith added he wasn't sure if Michigan's South Florida expedition would be the only one of its kind. SEC coaches were upset about it from a recruiting standpoint, but any legislation passed probably won't come until August or September, Smith said.
Smith addressed a host of other topics after the formal press conference announcing the date for the International Champions Cup match between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain. Some other notes:
- Asked about how Urban Meyer responded to there being a soccer game played in Ohio Stadium, Smith said he hasn't had a conversation with the head football coach yet: "I imagine, like he is for all activities that we can put in the Shoe to bring exposure, I'm sure he was probably positive."
- The soccer game — and the grass turf set to be brought in — will not affect the upcoming football season, Smith said. The grass will be installed roughly five days before the game, which is scheduled for July 27.
- Smith said Ohio State is exploring the idea of holding an outdoor collegiate hockey game at Ohio Stadium before an NHL game: "We've talked about doing our own collegiate game, which is probably what we'd do first. Just a lot of operational issues around here. It's not always that cold here in January. We're going to look at it, but it's not at the top of the pyramid."
- Ohio State held concerts at the stadium last summer and has more on the schedule this year. It's all part of the vision Smith has to use the 94-year-old venue as much as possible: "Think about this iconic facility that you all are familiar with. It needs to be used. We need to take advantage of that. We also need to provide access to people who do not have a chance to get in it otherwise."
- The issue with doing too much, however, is overworking the facility operations people that take care of Ohio Stadium on a daily basis: "I have to be sensitive to my team that I work with, my facilities people. Don't want to tax them. Very conscious of that."
- What about hosting Wrestlemania at Ohio Stadium? Smith: "I'm not jacked up on that one. We could do it, but the challenge with that is the expectations are inconsistent with reality."
- And what kind of crowd does he expect for the match between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain? "I just don't know. I really don't. I think the Columbus Crew will have an impact on that, but I just don't know. I know if we're blessed with good weather it will be exciting. The timing is right, the time with this year is right. We'll see."