KSU athletics score regardless of game’s outcome

Doug Gulasy

Mid-American Conference schools have a more difficult time making revenue than teams from major conferences, such as the Big Ten. For this reason, many MAC schools schedule road games against teams from such conferences to help increase revenue.

Kent State is no exception.

The school will receive about $650,000 for playing at Ohio State this weekend, Director of Athletics Laing Kennedy said.

Kennedy said he couldn’t give the exact total, but it would be “in that range,” adding that the money would help the athletic department make its budget.

“(The money) goes to the bottom-line revenue of the athletic department,” he said. “We budget football, we budget field hockey, and our revenue to budget our whole program. This helps us make our revenue number.”

While the Flashes are 30-point underdogs, according to The Plain Dealer, heading into the game at Ohio Stadium at noon tomorrow, the program draws many benefits from playing such a high-profile game.

“Nobody in the world is going to be playing Ohio State this weekend — Kent State is,” Kennedy said. “Nobody else in the world has that opportunity to play Ohio State — we do, and that, in and of itself, is a tremendous opportunity for Kent State University, our football program and everybody associated with the university.”

Sold-out Ohio Stadium, also known as the Horseshoe, seats 102,329 people, and the Big Ten Network will broadcast the game. Such exposure will help recruiting, said Doug Martin, Kent State football coach.

“(Ohio State) will have a lot of recruits there, (and) a lot of recruits will be watching that game on TV,” Martin said. “So that exposure alone helps us when we go out to recruit players. They know us a little bit more.

“And we actually sold to kids that are here now in recruiting that, ‘Hey, you come here, you’re going to have a chance to play Ohio State in the Horseshoe.'”

The exposure may also help to reverse some people’s thoughts of the Kent State football program. The team has gone from a 1-10 season in 2005 to being regarded as a contender for the Mid-American Conference title this year.

“A lot of our kids grew up wanting to play at Ohio State,” Martin said. “This is their opportunity to go prove that they could compete at that level.”

The Flashes might have a difficult time tomorrow, as Ohio State seems to be rounding into form after a 23-7 victory last week over Purdue.

Kennedy said he would rather have this game at the beginning of the season rather than now, when the team is in the middle of its MAC schedule.

“Ideally, the timing is not right,” he said. “I take responsibility for that – that was a date we had to settle on because our MAC conference schedule was not settled. We had to commit to Ohio State, to give them a date to commit to them, and we settled on Oct. 13.”

Still, Martin said that with every game of this magnitude, the Flashes will get closer to winning one.

“We went to Virginia Tech last year and played very well without our starting quarterback, and it was 6-0 (with Virginia Tech leading) at halftime,” he said. “That was a step. This is another step.

“Next year we have Boston College coming here for an early game, which will be another great opportunity, so it’s all steps and evolution of a program, until you eventually get to where hopefully you win one.”

A future opportunity for Kent State to beat a Big Ten team in football will come in 2010, when the Flashes will play at Penn State.

As for another game against the Buckeyes in the coming years…

“We are constantly talking to Big Ten opportunities, including Ohio State,” Kennedy said.

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].