Chris Holtmann has heard the pleas, the insults and everything in between.
And he has a message to those who are dying to see Ohio State schedule a home-and-home men’s basketball series with Dayton.
“We’re certainly open to it,” he said during a Monday appearance on the Justin Kinner Show on Dayton’s AM-1410. “It just needs to be right for everybody.”
The rekindling of intrastate rivalries has been a bullet point on Holtmann’s to-do list since being hired from Butler during the summer of 2017. As the coach of the Bulldogs, Holtmann took part in the Crossroads Classic, an annual doubleheader that brings together Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame and Butler. While at Ohio State, Holtmann has periodically floated the possibility of launching a similar event in Ohio that would likely include Cincinnati, Dayton, Xavier and the Buckeyes.
Preexisting commitments and expanded conference schedules have made doing so a logistical challenge.
“Scheduling is so far in advance it makes it difficult now getting four teams to do that,” Holtmann said. “What the common fan doesn’t understand is, for us, we have the Gavitt Games, which is the Big Ten-Big East challenge, the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, the CBS Sports Classic. Those are three non-conference games that are in our schedule every year so you’re limited as to how many more you can add in certain situations.”
It’s unclear if the Buckeyes will be part of the Gavitt Games in the 2020-21 season after taking part in each of the last two seasons. The series is currently scheduled through 2022 and pits eight teams against each other, with each Big Ten team required to participate at least four times. Ohio State has played in the event on three occasions, which means it has to participate in one of the next two seasons.
This year, the Buckeyes are slated to take part in the Battle 4 Atlantis, which will account for four of the 11 nonconference games.
While the Crossroads Classic’s Ohio counterpart hasn’t gotten underway, Holtmann did add Cincinnati to the schedule for a home-and-home series to open the past two seasons. The series marked the first regular-season games between the two programs since 1921.
Ohio State and Dayton last met in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, when the Flyers beat the Buckeyes 60-59 in the first round. The last regular-season meeting between the teams came on Dec. 17, 1988, when Ohio State won 104-76 at Dayton.
The 2020-21 schedule has not yet been released, but Holtmann said he’s heard from plenty of Dayton fans about putting the Flyers on the schedule.
“They hit me up on Twitter all the time: You guys are scared, you’re cowards, I’ve heard it all,” Holtmann said. “We’ve got great respect for that Dayton program and what Anthony (Grant) has done there. For us, the value for us in scheduling non-conference is we want to schedule as many non-conference power-league tournament teams as possible when you’re playing a home-and-home situation. Dayton has tremendous fans. I mean, tremendous fans for their college basketball.
“I think we’ve proven that we will do it. It’s just going to need to be the right situation.”