By Andrew Peterson
Youngstown State University’s football team is taking a trip to Columbus this fall. The Penguins play The Ohio State University Buckeyes on Sept. 9.
Athletic Director Ron Strollo said former YSU President Jim Tressel played a role in getting the game scheduled.
“We had become aware that there were going to be some changes to their non-conference schedule,” Strollo said. “We had President Tressel reach out to Ohio State, [and] he was kind of the one that opened the door for us once we found out that there was an opportunity for us to make the trip to Columbus this fall.”
Tressel is known across the country for the time he spent as the football head coach at Ohio State University.
Tressel finished his tenure at Ohio State with an overall record of 94-22, including six Big Ten Conference titles, a 5-4 bowl record and a 4-3 record in Bowl Championship Series. He has the third most wins as Ohio State coach and led the team to their first undefeated season since 1973.
During Tressel’s coaching tenure, he led both Youngstown State and Ohio State to a combined five national championships, becoming the first head coach in Division I college football history to do so.
Strollo said there are many benefits to playing against a school like Ohio State.
“It’s a big pay day for us, so financially, it’s a big deal for our department and our university,” Strollo said.
According to the contract, Ohio State will pay Youngstown State $800,000.
“The publicity that not only the Athletic Department and our football program will get, but specifically our university, there will be a lot of discussion about our university and President Tressel’s connection to Ohio State and to our institution,” Strollo said. “It will be a positive day for our institution.”
Strollo said the game also benefits Ohio State.
“[Ohio State] gets a home game. They get 100,000 people paying, and who knows how much a ticket [will cost] — $50, $60, $70 dollars a ticket — plus parking [revenue],” Strollo said.
Ohio State will provide 500 free tickets to the visiting team, and 3,000 tickets will be offered for purchase by the visiting team including tickets for the visiting team’s band.
Strollo said Youngstown State’s trip to Columbus will not put a financial strain on the school.
“There was no money other than labor put into this game,” Strollo said. “We’ve been doing a lot of work trying to schedule games like this, there’s a lot of work that goes behind it, not necessarily any investment in dollars. Now, we’ll have to spend some money traveling our team down there, but that’s very minimal.”
There are different partnerships that come with small universities like Youngstown State playing a Power Five school like OSU.
“We’ve always had a great relationship with Ohio State. We’ve played them in basketball, and we’ve played them in baseball,” Strollo said. “The more communication we have … will open up for some of our other programs to play their programs.”
The last time the Penguins battled the Buckeyes was at the Horseshoe on Aug. 30, 2008, when Tressel was still head coach at OSU.