COLUMBUS (WCMH) — As soon as Ohio State’s game against Michigan was canceled on Tuesday afternoon, the question became, What’s next for the Buckeyes?
The Buckeyes stand at 5-0 and are in first place in the East Division of the Big Ten. But conference rules set before this season was restarted said a team must play at least six games to be eligible for the conference championship game.
Now, momemtum is building to take another look at those rules so that Ohio State can have a shot to compete for the title.
The possibility was acnkowlegded by Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson, who tweeted, “Right now, our focus is on our student-athletes and what is best for them. We are in discussions with the Big Ten about possible next steps.”
Even Warde Manuel, athletic director at Michigan, said rules set before the first game should not be used to punish any team, even Ohio State.
“I don’t think we should just hunker down and say, ‘We said six, so that’s going to be it,'” Manuel said.
Big Ten athletic directors regularly meet on Wednesday mornings, according to ESPN college football reporter Adam Rittenberg, so the matter could be discussed then.
There are several questions to consider.
First, should Ohio State be given another conference opponent to play on Saturday? That may depend on whether any additional conference games are canceled. So far, there have been no other cancellations.
Second, should rules for conference championship eligibility be changed? The Big Ten indicated that it would consider that in a statement released over the Ohio State-Michigan game being canceled. It concluded that the conference “will continue to collaborate with its member institution stakeholders to determine Big Ten Football Championship Game participation requirements as well as tiebreakers.”
Third, what does a Big Ten championship matter to the Buckeyes? Ohio State was fourth in last week’s College Football Playoff rankings, with a new set to be released Tuesday night. Winning a conference championship is not a requirement for selection for the four-team field.