Ohio State AD Gene Smith favors playoff expansion


INDIANAPOLIS – Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith backs a proposal to expand the college football playoffs to 12 teams, saying it will provide more opportunities for schools across the country to reach the ground.

“I think the concept of inclusion is right,” Smith said Friday during Big Ten media days.

There has been little parity since the start of the four-team playoffs in 2014. Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma have totaled 20 of 28 spots. The Buckeyes haven’t missed the playoffs since 2018.

Smith said he believes expanding playoff participation could be good for the whole sport.

“I’m not talking about us,” he said. “I’m talking about opportunities for others. For college football at all levels, that could make it better. So I leaned in and thought 12 was probably the right way to go. “

In previous years, Smith has said he was a supporter of the expansion, but up to eight teams, a number that would have already doubled the size of the current bracket.

But momentum towards a 12-team playoff picked up this summer. Last month, the 11 university rectors and chancellors who sit on the CFP board approved a proposal to include 12 teams.

Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith

What would college football playoff expansion look like?

Although there are a few years left before it can be implemented, the 12-team roster would include the six conference champions and six other teams that qualify for the general offers. The four highest-ranked conference title winners would receive first-round passes before playing their first matches in the quarter-finals.

As the Big Ten’s longest-serving athletic director after Barry Alvarez retired from Wisconsin, Smith’s perspective is expected to have some influence within the conference. Kevin Warren, the league commissioner, is on the CFP management committee.

Smith said he preferred the Power Five conference champions to receive automatic offers, but according to the proposal, the sixth highest-ranked conference champions would receive an automatic qualification.

Other factors remain under study, including the advisability of playing certain games on campus or at corporate boules sites.

Smith added that he believes the expansion will add more interest to the regular season with more teams vying for spots.

“I was initially concerned about its impact on the regular season,” said Smith, “but it will likely increase interest in the regular season at all levels.”

The “majority” of vaccinated Buckeyes

Ohio State coach Ryan Day said Friday that a “majority” of Ohio State players have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Day did not offer a specific vaccination rate for the team, but noted that it increased in the weeks before the Buckeyes began preseason training.

“We are getting closer,” Day said. “At the end of the day, I hope we are approaching 100%. We will see. We’re not going to make anybody get it. It is their decision. But there is a risk with everything they do. I feel pretty good with where we’re at, and hopefully within a week or two we can add guys to this list.

One of those potential additions is wide receiver Chris Olave. He was not on media days this week as scheduled as he was due to receive his second vaccine this weekend.

The coronavirus cases caused disruption for the Buckeyes last fall in a season that had already been postponed due to the pandemic. During Thanksgiving week, an outbreak of cases resulted in the cancellation of a game in Illinois and nearly two dozen players were unavailable for the following week’s game at Michigan State.

Even when the Buckeyes reached the college football playoff final against Alabama, several of their top defensive linemen were absent after testing positive for the virus.

Other Big Ten coaches reported vaccination rates for their teams that were 90%, and Illinois coach Bret Bielema said he expected all Fighting players and coaches Illini be vaccinated when they begin preseason training next month.

Day was vaccinated in March when he first became eligible to receive doses and said at the time that staff would help players make appointments, but the vaccine would not be mandatory.

He maintained a similar approach on Friday.

“It’s something that is unique to each guy and we kind of left it to them,” Day said.

Smith said the school had not established a vaccination threshold for the team to achieve. The Big Ten has “decentralized” decisions on COVID-19 issues to schools, which have been asked to finalize policies.

For Buckeyes players who have been vaccinated, tight end Jeremy Ruckert said some restrictions have been relaxed. They are not subject to frequent testing or quarantine requirements.

Ruckert said that was one of the reasons he got the shot.

Hooker reinstated

Ohio State Security Marcus Hooker is back on the team after being indefinitely suspended this spring following an arrest for driving a vehicle under the influence.

Day said he would be eligible to play for the Buckeyes when their season opens in Minnesota on September 1.

“He’s been through a rough time,” Day said, “but he learned a lot and paid his dues and went through a bunch of different programs. So we support Marcus and he’s back in the squad.

As part of a plea deal reached in April, Hooker was ordered to pay a fine of $ 375, limit his driving privileges and complete a driver education program. It was the second alcohol-related driving offense in Hooker’s career after he faced a similar charge as a freshman in 2018.

Following the suspension, Hooker was suspended for the majority of spring practice, leaving the Buckeyes without a veteran in their high school.

Hooker started four games as a junior last fall, occupying the unique safety role that Josh Proctor eventually took over at the end of the season.

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