How Ohio State football keeps its future schedules strong, years in advance
Martin Jarmond was sitting at a meeting in Tampa, Fla., as a part of the College Football Playoff, when his counterpart at Washington struck up a conversation with the Ohio State deputy athletic director.
“He just mentioned casually, ‘Would you guys ever want to play?'” Jarmond recalled.
Jarmond was intrigued, but he had to do his homework first. With that, the man who’s handled the Buckeyes’ scheduling for the past eight years ran down his checklist to determine whether a series with the Huskies would make a good fit.
“You always have to project out. Are they going to [still] be where they are?” Jarmond said. “I knew [coach] Chris Petersen was there. I knew he was still probably going to be there and keep it going.”
Quality opponent? Check.
From there, Jarmond moved on to the other benefits of playing the Huskies. Ohio State has made a habit of scheduling series with schools that make sense from either an alumni or recruiting standpoint.
“We have alumni [in Seattle],” Jarmond said. “Washington’s a great trip; Seattle’s a great trip. There’s going to be a lot of Buckeyes on the West Coast. They’re going to be good — or I think they’re going to be good.”
With that, Jarmond did some adjusting, shifting an already planned series with Boston College to 2026 and 2027. From there, Ohio State inked a deal with Washington, announcing a home-and-home series with the Huskies for 2024 and 2025 last month.
“It’s not too far down the path,” Jarmond noted.
That part is important.
Although the Buckeyes have been aggressive in their scheduling for most of the past two decades, Ohio State’s eagerness to schedule premier out-of-conference opponents hasn’t always worked out. Such was the case from 2012-15, when neither of the two programs the Buckeyes had scheduled home-and-home series’ with in that span met the expectations Ohio State had when their deals were inked.
Take, for instance, the Buckeyes’ series with Cal, which they signed at the height of the Bears’ success in the mid-2000s. By the time the two teams met in Columbus in 2012 and Berkeley a year later, Cal was one of the worst Power 5 programs in college football, compiling a 4-20 record in those two seasons.
As a result, Ohio State’s strength of schedule suffered — despite the Buckeyes’ intentions to schedule a quality opponent. Jarmond hadn’t scheduled the Cal series, but nevertheless took note.
“I try not to go that far out because of that reason,” said Jarmond, who will take over as the athletic director at Boston College in June. “When the Cal game was made, that was literally 10 years before that actual game. So if you look at Washington, we did this in ’17 and [the games are] in ’24 and ’25.”
Of course it’s not always that simple. While Ohio State prefers not to schedule games a decade in advance, sometimes circumstances necessitate doing just that.
“Here’s the dance: you can’t go too far out because of that reason,” Jarmond said, referencing the Cal series. “But if we don’t do something out here — I saw Michigan’s playing somebody, Alabama just announced something a couple of months ago. So you start seeing some of the better teams get out here.”
So while Ohio State currently has at least one out-of-conference opponent scheduled for each of the next 10 years, Jarmond said adding one for the 2028 season is currently off limits. “We don’t need to do it,” he said.
Of course as he learned last winter with Washington, plans can change — and change quickly.
“We literally were sitting at a dinner table,” Jarmond said. “And that’s how that started.”