ROSEMONT, Ill. — Gene Smith digs Italy. Just don’t count on Ohio State Buckeyes football coach Urban Meyer lifting a page from Jim Harbaugh’s spring playbook anytime soon.
“It’s a great trip,” Smith, Buckeyes athletic director, said during a break in the Big Ten’s Joint Groups on Monday when asked about the Michigan Wolverines’ recent trip to Rome. “Tuscany is one of my favorite vacation places. That’s where I’d go.”
So that’s next on the Buckeyes’ spring football itinerary?
“No, probably not, no,” Smith replied. “We’re comfortable with what we do.”
And that was pretty much, well, that.
Michigan raised eyebrows — and tempers, in some corners — by taking its entire football roster, staff, support staff and family to Rome, a party of almost 200, over the last week in April. The trek combined an educational field trip, a visit to Vatican City, and team bonding/recreational opportunities with three spring practices.
It also got Harbaugh, the Wolverines coach, a personal audience with Pope Francis:
— Land of 10 Michigan (@Landof10MICH) April 26, 2017
— Michigan Nation24/7 (@247Wolverines) April 26, 2017
Smith said he can’t see the Buckeyes practicing overseas, but that he’s open to original opportunities to promote the school and the program.
“I think it’s very important today to be as creative as you can based upon what you are,” Smith said.
“We’re blessed in Columbus with close to 2 million people … so we can be creative with that. And there are people with other towns and 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 your team somewhere else or whether that’s changing the color of your uniforms.
“All of us laughed at Oregon when they started doing that, and they had a pretty sweet run. Now I wouldn’t go to school for that, but there’s a market of young people who are amazed at those uniforms and they went (there) and they won. So I think you’ve got to be as creative as you possibly can.”
So no to Tuscany (probably). And no to neon jerseys (we think).
But yes to Chance The Rapper, who’s performing in Columbus on Tuesday night.
“Our guys are just so creative,” Smith said. “We’ve got a group of young guys, they sit in a room and think this stuff up. We’re going to have Chance The Rapper coming (Tuesday), and they’re on social media trying to get Chance to come to Woody Hayes (Athletic Center). (To) have him walk through Woody Hayes and have pictures that (say), ‘Chance The Rapper was in Woody Hayes.’”