Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann does not expect drastic changes to schedule with new start date

Adam Jardy
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Chris Holtmann yells from the bench during the second half of the NCAA basketball game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Value City Arena on Feb. 14, 2019. Ohio State lost 63-56.

College basketball officially has a start date. According to multiple media reports, the Division I Council has recommended Nov. 25 as a start date for the 2020-21 men’s season.

Now, teams can start figuring out how many non-conference games they will play and when they will play them. The upcoming weeks figure to be fraught with changes, but Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann told The Dispatch that they won’t be drastic for his team’s schedule.

“It is going to be a bit of the wild, wild west here for the next few weeks,” he said. “There’s no question about that. I think that’s going to be anxious. Do I see dramatic changes to our schedule? I’m not sure I see that as of now, but there will definitely be some changes.”

Ohio State was scheduled to host three games before Nov. 25: a season opener against Oakland on Nov. 11, Niagara on the 15th and Akron on the 19th. All of those games would be in advance of the program’s first-ever appearance in the Battle 4 Atlantis, slated to begin on the 25th.

That event will now be held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, at the Sanford Pentagon facility. Sanford Health has provided COVID-19 testing for the PGA Tour and is expected to be able to readily provide medical assistance and testing for the eight-team event that is also scheduled to host Duke, West Virginia and others.

“Well now that’s dramatic, and you can quote me on that,” Holtmann said of the shifting location for the event. “That would be the one that would be dramatic. Outside of that, I think (the schedule will) have some tweaks and some changing of dates but going from the Bahamas to South Dakota certainly changes how you’re packing.”

Teams will be permitted to start practice Oct. 14 and can play no more than 27 games, four less than the maximum in a typical year. No scrimmages or exhibitions will take place, and teams will be recommended to play at least four non-conference games.

The season had previously been scheduled to begin Nov. 10.

“I like the leadership and the direction of the NCAA in this,” Holtmann said. “I think it’s ample time for us to adjust the schedule as we need to, and we’ll need some direction I’m sure from our conference on that but I think the NCAA has made it clear that there’s a parameter of games they want including non-conference. Hopefully that’ll be the direction that we’ll move in.”

Dylan Howard, coach of an Alabama A&M team slated to play at Value City on Dec. 30, told The Dispatch that the Bulldogs are still likely to be playing that game. Earlier this month, coaches for multiple non-conference Ohio State opponents spoke on their hope that they would still get to play their games against the Buckeyes, and you can read that story by clicking here.

And wherever the Buckeyes are playing and regardless of the competition, the fact that games remain on the calendar answer one of Holtmann’s offseason prayers after the 2020 Big Ten and NCAA tournaments were canceled.

“I prayed in the offseason that we would have a season, that we would have a chance to play in the Battle 4 Atlantis,” he said. “I said, ‘I don’t care, God. I will go anywhere.’ And I think He took me literal on that, that’s for sure. In reality, I think we’ll all love just the idea of playing right now.”