Even though it's still uncertain if and when the 2020 football season will be played this fall, Ohio State is set to return to the practice field on Friday.
In an interview with 97.1 The Fan's Bishop and Laurinaitis on Wednesday, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said the Buckeyes are on track to start walkthrough practices on Friday, with fall camp scheduled to begin on Aug. 7.
The start of walkthrough practices, which comes after the Buckeyes resumed workouts supervised by coaches last Wednesday, is in accordance with guidelines approved by the NCAA in June, allowing Ohio State coaches to begin working with players for up to 20 hours per week, including up to six hours of walkthrough football practices per week, beginning Friday.
Smith acknowledged he isn't yet completely comfortable with the prospect of the Buckeyes starting full-fledged football practices in two weeks, but he's hopeful he'll get there before Aug. 7.
“When we move into practice Aug. 7, I’m not there yet,” Smith said. “I don’t have a comfort level there yet. But I do relative to what we’ve done in the voluntary workout space, what we’re gonna start doing July 24th when we start walkthroughs, I feel really, really good.”
As for actual football games, Smith said it remains uncertain whether the season will start on time, but that the Big Ten is still working to finalize its conference-only schedule with hopes of playing as early as Sept. 5, which was when Ohio State was originally scheduled to play its season opener against Bowling Green.
“It's a moment of uncertainty,” Smith said regarding the upcoming season. “I think everyone that works in the industry and everyone who’s paying attention understands that there’s a lot of moving parts, and that we just need to be patient and allow our experts around this virus to continue to do their work and give us guidance, so that we can make some leadership decisions.”
Smith said the Big Ten athletic directors have not yet had specific discussions about the potential of moving football season to spring, even though they know that's a possibility they might ultimately have to consider, because they're hopeful the flexibility provided by the conference-only schedule will allow them to have a season this fall.
“The flexibility that having September to schedule games or not provides us unbelievable opportunity,” Smith said. “So if we for some reason can’t start Sept. 5, we can slide it now, because we control the schedule. We’re still in the process of defining what the schedule will be, but it would give us the flexibility to slide, and hopefully if we can’t play X number of games, we can play X number of games.”