Smith says he won't schedule 'fair pay' opponents

Joey Kaufman
Running back Master Teague scored a career-high two touchdowns Saturday against Nebraska. Teague's ability to take care of the ball has earned him playing time, coach Ryan Day said. [Kyle Robertson/Dispatch]

Athletic director Gene Smith said Tuesday that Ohio State would not schedule nonconference games in football or other varsity sports against schools from California if the state’s new “fair pay” law takes effect.

“If the rules are different in different states, I would not,” Smith said. “That’s not who we are. I’d stay with those states and those schools that are like we are in the NCAA.”

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Under the Fair Pay to Play Act, signed Monday by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, college athletes in the state would be allowed to profit off their name, image and likeness, despite longstanding NCAA amateurism rules.

Similar legislation has since been introduced — but not yet enacted — in other states. The California law is not to go into effect until January 2023.

Ohio State’s football season in 2023 opens against San Jose State, one of seven teams from California in the top-level Football Bowl Subdivision.

Smith told The Dispatch that he had yet to broach the matter with his counterparts at the school, saying it was “too early.”

The nonconference game, which was finalized this summer, is scheduled to take place months after the California law is implemented.

According to a copy of the game contract, Ohio State could be required to pay a cancellation fee.

No fee is required if cancellation is due to “power failure, strikes, severe weather conditions, riots, war or other unforeseen catastrophes or disasters beyond the control of either party.”

It’s unclear if legislation might be considered as a valid reason. Schools can also mutually reschedule or cancel games.

Change of pace

Redshirt freshman Master Teague has emerged as Ohio State’s backup running back in recent weeks. He rushed for 77 yards and a career-high two touchdowns in the Buckeyes’ 48-7 win at Nebraska last week.

Through five games, Teague has 326 rushing yards and three touchdowns, relying on a physical running style as an alternative to leading rusher J.K. Dobbins. Teague is listed at 220 pounds.

“He’s a great change-up to J.K.,” coach Ryan Day said. “He’s different. I think that matters in a game.”

During preseason camp, Teague had been limited with an undisclosed ailment and fell in the pecking order. Ten days before the season opener, running backs coach Tony Alford had pegged Demario McCall as the likely backup behind Dobbins.

Teague, though, has the second-most carries among running backs with 52, followed by freshman Marcus Crowley, who has 15. Freshman Steele Chambers and McCall each has 10 carries.

Day thought Teague had earned the additional snaps because he had avoided costly mistakes, including fumbles.

“As hard as he runs and as big as he is, if you don’t take care of the ball, you can’t play running back here at Ohio State,” Day said. “Now he’s taking care of the football.”

Day said the adjusted scheme on offense for this season also fit the hard-nosed runner well.

“He may not be pretty,” Day added, “but he’s pouring it up in there.”

Cornhuskers love

Nebraska coach Scott Frost holds Ohio State in high regard.

After the Buckeyes’ drubbing of the Cornhuskers on Saturday night, Frost voted them No. 1 on his ballot for the coaches’ poll, one of four who did this week, he told reporters in Lincoln.

Day, who is also a voter, declined to reveal his ballot, or where he pegged his team.

“But we’re getting better every week,” he said, “and what matters is what the ranking is at the end of the season.”


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