Friday, November 4, 2011

Ohio State or big-school state title game - how about both?

The Division I football state championship game might feature a lot of people with one eye on the field and the other on a smart phone beginning this year.

Ohio's big-school state final is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Dec. 3, about an hour before the Big Ten championship game kicks off in Indianapolis. If Ohio State advances to the conference title game, that will leave plenty of fans at Fawcett Stadium wanting updates during the second half of the prep game.

In 2006, the start of the Ohio State-Michigan game was pushed back to 3:30 p.m. from its traditional noon start. All of the high school regional finals scheduled for 7 p.m. that night were moved up to noon or played the previous evening. It wasn't for the convenience of fans. It was because volunteers who work the games wouldn't have arrived at the game on time.

The D-I state championship game would be much more difficult to move. It is broadcast live on television, and there are two other title games that day.

Beginning in 2014, the OHSAA has a two-year contract to play all six state finals in Ohio Stadium. It should make for an exciting weekend if the Buckeyes are playing in the Big Ten title game with a BCS bowl game or national championship game berth on the line.

It could affect attendance at the high school final, though. For example, it's highly unlikely you'll ever see the NHL play its New Year's Day outdoors game at a Big Ten stadium as long as there's a chance the home football team gets picked for the Outback or Capital One Bowl, which are played in the afternoon that day.

So you could have a scenario in which casual fans have to decide between sitting in the stands in December weather while checking Ohio State on the radio or on their phones, or relaxing on the couch in front of a TV in a warm living room. The Buckeyes would provide a convenient excuse not to go.

- Howard Primer

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