Speaking at a Sugar Bowl press conference on Wednesday, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer expressed concern over the new length of college football seasons in the young Playoff era.
Of course, Ohio State reached the four-team playoff largely by way of its 59-0 defeat of Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, its 13th game of the season. Should the No. 4 Buckeyes defeat No. 1 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, they will play their 15th game of the season in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 12 in North Texas.
"It used to be 11 games and a bowl game. Now it's 12, plus this and (with conference title games) you're talking about 14, 15 games. That is getting very NFL-ish," Meyer told reporters. "We've been very leery of it, and there is a part of me that's concerned about the wear and tear on the student-athlete. But watching the players, they're having the time of their life. I don't feel like there's fatigue, I don't feel like there is anyone whatsoever who doesn't want to be part of this. I think it's great for college football, but I think it's something we all need to consistently monitor. I know we have very closely, because the wear and tear on the student-athlete is real. It's never been like this. This is the first time in college football history."
With the playoff not expected to grow much larger than four teams in the foreseeable future, the majority of college teams will play 12 or 13-game schedules. Playoff-bound teams will play 14, and the finalists will play 15.
Meyer said he was "very concerned" about wear and tear on players. Ohio State has been through three quarterbacks this season after returning starter Braxton Miller was lost to a torn right labrum in August and his replacement, J.T. Barrett, fractured his right ankle in the regular-season finale against Michigan. Sophomore Cardale Jones finished the game, started the Big Ten Championship Game and will do so again in the Sugar Bowl.
Ohio State and Alabama play on Thursday at 8:30 p.m.
- Mike Fiammetta