COLUMBUS – Ohio State president Kristina M. Johnson, director of athletics Gene Smith, and head coach Ryan Day met with the media following the Big Ten’s announcement to resume the fall football season the weekend of Oct. 24.
Here’s a summary of what was said.
+ Today is a great day for Buckeye Nation. She supports the Big Ten’s decision and it is what Ohio State always wanted.
+ The plan provides rigorous testing protocols for all student-athletes and this was crucial for them to return to competition.
+ President Johnson thinks they have a great plan but it will require everyone to work together to accomplish it.
+ As a former student-athletes, she understands what college athletics has provided to her and wanted this opportunity for all of the students and student-athletes at Ohio State.
+ President Johnson said on the process of coming in and getting right to work, she found it helpful to look at what the athletic teams were doing to determine how things should be done campus-wide.
+ On the decisions to not allow fans, President Johnson said the committee recommended they limit contact with fans. That was the recommendation they were given.
+ The work over the last month by the medical committee was the game-changer. The testing protocol was accurate in specificity and sensitivity, so they can guarantee a clear playing field with that.
+ She loves the Big Ten and Ohio State. The Big Ten Conference wants to be a leader and they have been a leader in many ways. “We took the time to study things that are very important.”
+ They came up with a way to play for all the marbles.
+ The rapid tests are 98 to 99 percent accurate. She does believe they will have a clean playing field with no athletes that are positive for COVID-19.
+ There is a great comfort level with the testing procedures and protocols, the data transparency, contact tracing, and the issues after someone is positive with COVID-19. The protocols in that space are phenomenal.
+ “We are in a better place regardless of how we got here and how painful it was. It’s all behind us. What’s beautiful is that we have protocols in place based on science and lessons learned. We are hopeful.”
+ Tomorrow morning they will start addressing the schedule. The goal is for eight regular season games with one championship-week game. They are looking at a new, unique scheduling model. They hope to have a schedule by next week.
+ On there being a small window to reschedule games in order to make the CFP, Smith said he isn’t as concerned about that. He feels confident that if every school embraces the protocols and do what Ohio State has done, then they should get to a point where they have a clean, competitive field each Saturday. They may not have consistency in numbers of how many games each league plays, but Smith thinks the committee will develop criteria that addresses that.
+ On not having fans, Smith said the primary objective is to get the game played. They understand the operations of game-days will be challenging so the focus is just to mitigate the risk and play the game in a safe form.
+ They haven’t looked at the budget yet because any numbers are going to change, it is a fluid year. They still don’t know what their media contracts are because they don’t know the schedule. Everything is still at play. The numbers with basketball could also change based on decisions. He thinks it’s not purposeful to work on that right now until things are more solidified with TV and basketball.
+ They have to discuss the exact timing of when they can cancel games if needed. But they will be testing everyday so they will always have that information. They just need to determine which day and time they can make those decisions.
+ The science evolved and they learned a lot. The emergence of rapid testing was critical. The structure they set up to research was also critical.
+ On getting back to practice, Smith said they have been working out 12 hours a week but now he thinks it will be 20 hours a week which is the normal practice time for the season. That will be discussed Thursday morning.
+ Wyatt Davis called Smith so he jumped off the videoconference call and then came back.
+ Ryan Day, staff, and players set up a videoconference call on Wednesday morning. President Johnson made the announcement.
+ They were laser focused working with the medical task force. They were driven to make sure they addressed the concerns of their Presidents. They heard the messages of the people they serve but the reality was that they were very driven.
+ The conference will be coordinating the providing of the tests to the schools.
+ He is very excited for the players. They are in a stronger place than they were a few months ago. The data driven approach and the testing protocols are excellent.
+ The players never gave up. It’s not easy for 19 and 20-year-old men to go through. The culture has never been more evident.
+ He thanks Buckeye Nation for all of their support and is excited for them as well.
+ Day said he has been in communication with Shaun Wade and Wyatt Davis. If they want to play they should be allowed to play but everything has happened so quickly. They both shared with him that they want to play and now the opportunity is here.
+ They will be ready to go on October 24. Eight to nine games is a good number. He thinks the season is perfect.
+ The meeting with the team was emotional.
+ 2020 has been a time of uncertainty, it hasn’t been easy. But to look them in the eye and tell them that they have the chance to play, they just kept working and moving forward and never gave up.
+ The leadership of this team and program is unreal. It is an amazing feeling, but now they have to get back to work. They have a huge task ahead of them.
+ On Justin Fields’ leadership, Day said ‘what can you say about Justin Fields?’ The way he has gone about his business, spoken about things, been a leader, his work ethic, he has been off the charts.
+ The players wanted it, but they wanted to be able to do it safely. Now they have the opportunity because of the hard work of the conference.
+ The team learned a lot of life lessons from this.