COLUMBUS, Ohio — With the announcement last week of a home-and-home series with Washington in 2024 and 2025, Ohio State football has premier out-of-conference opponents scheduled annually for the better part of the next decade.
Noticeably absent, however, from the future slates is the school most associate with Ohio State from a national perspective: Alabama. According to the man responsible for putting together the Buckeyes schedule, that won’t change any time soon.
“No. We’ve never talked to them,” Ohio State deputy director of athletics Martin Jarmond revealed last week.
Jarmond explained the Buckeyes typically take a two-pronged approach when it comes to scheduling premier games:
- Does Ohio State possess a strong fan presence or alumni base in the prospective opponent’s region?
- Is the Buckeyes coaching staff actively recruiting the area?
In the case of the Crimson Tide, neither factor applies.
“You’re going to go to Alabama and you don’t have any kind of [fan] base there. You’re not recruiting Alabama,” said Jarmond, who recently was named athletic director at Boston College. “So two of the factors that we look at: alumni or fan support and then student-athletes, are we recruiting them?
“Alabama doesn’t fit that description. It’s not even about how strong they are. It’s literally about those factors.”
That approach has led to recent series with California, where Buckeyes fans memorably took over Memorial Stadium in 2013, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. Last week, Ohio State announced that its 2018 tilt with TCU will be played at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium, which meshes well with Urban Meyer’s recruiting efforts in Texas.
In the coming years, the Buckeyes will play out-of-conference games against Oregon (2020, 2021), Texas (2022, 2023), Notre Dame (2022, 2023) and Boston College (2026, 2027). You may notice there isn’t a single team from the SEC on that list.
While the perception for some is that schools from the South don’t want to travel north as part of a home-and-home series, Jarmond insists that Ohio State is just as responsible for the SEC’s absence from its upcoming schedules.
“I think the problem with the SEC is it’s not going to be somewhere where we have alumni and fans,” Jarmond said. “We like places where we’re recruiting kids.”
That’s not to say Ohio State is ruling out scheduling a future date against an SEC team (something it hasn’t done since 1987). From a recruiting perspective, it’s worth noting Meyer has signed players from Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arkansas, South Carolina and Missouri as the Buckeyes coach.
Of course, it takes two to tango. Other complications in the scheduling process exist, such as Ohio State’s need to host seven home games per year, and its desire to only face premier opponents on the road in years the Michigan game is played in Columbus.
The Buckeyes also usually shun neutral-site games, with Jarmond calling Ohio State’s 2018 trip to AT&T Stadium “an anomaly.” Alabama, meanwhile, has opened each of its last five seasons with high-profile, neutral-site games.
So unless Ohio State expands its recruiting territory to the Heart of Dixie — or changes its scheduling philosophy — the next time the Buckeyes battle the Crimson Tide will be in the College Football Playoff.
“For us,” Jarmond said, “it just doesn’t make sense.”