Ohio State's Ryan Day urges Big Ten to revisit football championship game requirements

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra

About an hour before the cancellation of Saturday’s rivalry game against Michigan, a move that threatens to leave Ohio State below the minimum games requirement for eligibility in the Big Ten championship game, coach Ryan Day said the league should revisit the rule surrounding qualification.

More:What we know about Ohio State football's canceled game with Michigan, how it impacts the CFP and more

Speaking with reporters on a Zoom call Tuesday afternoon, Day called for open-mindedness in a season that has for months seen its parameters shift due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

Ohio State coach Ryan Day.

“I think it's one of those things that was put into place early on,” Day said. “Decisions are made based on the information you have at the time. Then things change, as we know. Our season was on and got changed to conference-only, and then it got changed to no season, and then got changed to a season. So there's been a lot of changes.

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“I think we have to take a hard look periodically at all this stuff. This is one of those situations. If we don't quite get the games we need to get into the championship game, I think that needs to be looked at hard just like anybody else in the conference. But there's no easy solution in times like this.”

If the six-game threshold is not reduced and the Buckeyes are unable to schedule a replacement game for the final weekend of the regular season, Indiana would advance to the Big Ten championship game. The Hoosiers would play for the conference title on Dec. 19 even though they lost at Ohio State last month and sit in second place in the East Division.

More:Michigan cancels game against Ohio State

The Buckeyes, who remain unbeaten and on pace for a spot in the College Football Playoff, have played five games, one shy of qualification.

They have won the Big Ten championship in each of the past three seasons, the only program to win an outright Big Ten title in three consecutive years.

In the aftermath of the cancellation of the game against Michigan, an Ohio State  spokesman said the school was in communication with conference officials concerning the next steps, though it remains unclear if there will be another available team to face the Buckeyes.

No other game across the league this weekend has been impacted. Purdue did cancel its Tuesday practice, putting its rivalry game against Indiana in some question.

Messages left with Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and the Big Ten were not immediately returned.

There have been signs that Day’s urging for the conference to change its title game qualification rules was not a last-minute plea.

In an interview last week with the Detroit News, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, who chaired the Big Ten's return-to-play committee, said the six-game minimum requirement was an issue that needed to be reexamined if the Buckeyes were impacted.

“They're sitting up there still ranked No. 4,” Alvarez said. “Our league can't keep them from having the opportunity if they have a chance to be in the finals.”

Alvarez added that the rule could be looked at when the league’s athletic directors get together for their weekly meeting. He did not specify a date.

A statement released by the Big Ten in the aftermath of the Ohio State-Michigan cancellation said the conference would discuss its championship game requirements and tiebreakers.

A conference championship is not needed to make the College Football Playoff, though selection committee chairman Gary Barta said last week it could be used as a tiebreaker between teams.

Ohio State made the playoff in 2016 without winning the Big Ten.

The latest rankings were scheduled to be released at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman