On the morning before what should have been the Ohio State Football Spring Game, Ohio State Director of Athletics Gene Smith joined 610 WTVN's Joel Riley Friday morning. With sports on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are many questions about the upcoming college football season. Will we see Buckeye Football games in an empty Ohio Stadium?
"It's really too early to truly speculate what the fall will bring to us," Smith told WTVN. "Frankly we haven't delved into the season. The conversations around the season, first and foremost has to start with return to play. We really have to understand that the players did not have spring football...and remember, typically during the summer time, there's training that occurs. At the end of the day, we need to develop a return to play model for those players that is practice oriented so that we avoid soft tissue injuries...Before we can even think about the season, we need to start thinking about, 'How do we help our players return to just practice?'"
With Ohio and most of the country under a stay at home order and observing social distancing, and without clarity on what regulations will be in place from state to state in the fall, Smith said planning for the upcoming football season is difficult.
"I think that's one of the challenges when you say play a game with no one in the stands. That means we've made a decision, I think, that it's not safe for the fans to be in the stands in that gathering environment. So it seems inconsistent to me that we can say, it's unsafe for the fans to be in the stands, but it's safe for the players...My focus first and foremost right now is, if we're going to do something, how do we make sure the players are safe first."
We got into much deeper conversations with Gene about how different guidelines from state to state could affect the season, the lost revenue at Ohio State due to the cancellation of things like the Spring Game and the NCAA tournament and the disappointment for OSU athletes who lost either their championship season or, in the case of spring sports, lost their season completely. It was a great and informative conversation and we thank Gene for joining us. You can check it out by clicking here to go to Joel's podcast page.