Concerns with 'student-athlete welfare' after night games
Urban Meyer was adamant that four nighttime conference games away from home is far too much on his players, and puts unnecessary strain on both the student, and the athlete aspect of their lives.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Never one to pull any punches on conference or national decisions he feels are unfair or wrong, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has brought a new topic to light — too many night games in the Big Ten for his team.
Meyer's tenure with the Buckeyes has been chalked full of nighttime games. Since first making his mark in Columbus in 2012, Ohio State has played in 10 conference games in primetime.
Smack dab in the middle of the schedule, and with three Big Ten games already played, Meyer's team has been in three late match-ups, and a pair of primetime conference games. The Buckeyes will be kicking off at a late time again against Nebraska on Saturday, with another left on the plate before the season ends.
Although Ohio State still has three home conference games left this year, the Penn State game is already set for 3:30, leaving Illinois and Michigan State on the table. Iowa is an open spot in terms of start time, and could very well be the final late kickoff.
Meyer said he feels that many away, primetime conference games puts too much strain on players, and does not take "student-athlete welfare" into consideration.
"I understand TV contracts rule, but when you talk about student-athletes, you shouldn't have to play four night games on the road," Meyer said. "I'm going to bring it up to our commissioner and we will find out if we really do care about getting home at 4 o'clock in the morning. You don't do that."
To further his point, Meyer noted how difficult management of player's throughout the week with late games away from home, and how the natural rhythm of game prep is disrupted.
Players have been feeling the stress and strain of the tough scheduling
"It's very tough on the body, but, again, we came back in after we played Rutgers and came back in at 4:30," center Billy Price said. "I was up at 9:30 the next day. Couple hours of sleep."
While Price went on to say it was the trade off teams must go through to be in such a predominant position, and it was something you just have to deal with, all players asked about the tough scheduling agreed how much of a toll late games can take on the body and mind.
For student athletes, who are required to attend classes and keep themselves in good academic standing, the pressure added by less sleep and the physically taxing challenge of recuperating from the day's mayhem on Saturday's while trundling through an airport is not an easy adjustment.
"It throws your sleep and everything off for the next couple days pretty much," tackle Jamarco Jones said. "You go to bed at 5 A.M. and ... usually it's hard for me to sleep when we get back from night games because it's morning time. Yeah, it throws me off completely."
There is no chance of Ohio State getting out of the two night games still on schedule. Due to the Buckeyes not hosting a home primetime game, looks like Jones will be having at least two more Saturday nights into Sunday mornings with some sleep issues.