When Urban Meyer arrived in Chicago for the 2014 Big Ten Media Days, he had one particular issue on his mind in regards to the brand new College Football Playoff.
“If I am (OSU senior defensive lineman) Michael Bennett’s family, and we go on a nice run, you can plan on spending $20,000 going to the Big Ten Championship Game, going to the semi-final game and going to the championship game,” Meyer said July 29. “The kids get to go but the parents have to pay. How is that family going to not go watch their kid play? If I was on that committee I would have addressed that first.”
Bennett said that same late-July day that any kind of compensation would be beneficial for the families of players.
“I think that would be nice, and not too much to ask for,” Bennett said of possible funding for the families. “It is not like they need anything extravagant, but to be able to see their children play in big time games instead of having to pick and choose. You don’t want to watch the Big Ten Championship and not have money to watch the national championship.”
Entering Ohio State’s campus media day on Tuesday, that was exactly the situation as the Buckeyes are preparing to take on the Oregon Ducks in the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
With the big game looming, Meyer’s concern had only become more prevalent.
“I think each family should get a stipend and I would be disappointed it doesn’t happen,” Meyer said Tuesday. “I’m waiting for someone, one of you guys, to just blow it up and no one seems to want to do that.”
As if having his request answered directly, minutes after his plea to the media sitting in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center team meeting room, an OSU spokesman approached Meyer with some exciting news.
The CFP announced that, subject to NCAA rules, “it will defray the cost of expenses for student-athletes’ parents or guardians to travel to the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship on January 12,” according to the release.
The announcement added that each parent or guardian of each player will receive $1,250 for the trip to the title game.
Meyer immediately pumped his fist in front of the packed meeting room. “That’s great. That’s the best news I’ve heard. That’s great news,” Meyer said.
Meyer thanked OSU vice president and athletic director Gene Smith and said he believed Smith played an integral role in helping with the new CFP ruling.
“Gene Smith is a powerful man in the sport. And all due respect to all other ADs, for him to step out on the line like that, that’s good,” Meyer said. “I’d like to see our commissioners jump out on deck, too, and say, this should happen, because they are all employees of the student athlete.”
Meyer glowed for the remainder of the press conference, reiterating how excited he was to hear the news.
“I’m really fired up over that. That just kind of made my day. That’s good. So families get to watch their son play in their first ever (College Football Playoff) National Championship, without providing hardship where they will have to take loans; or worse than that, you’re going to take it from someone that you’re not supposed to take money from, and then we’ll miss a Bowl game,” Meyer said. “That’s outstanding news.”
Smith said that while he is excited about the ruling, he does not believe families of the players will get any more money for prior games such as conference championship and semifinal games.
“I do not, but that is my personal thought. My colleagues nationally may have different thoughts,” Smith said Tuesday. “I think there will be debate about two games versus one.”
Smith added that the process of distributing the money to the families is still being worked out.
“We will develop a mechanism to show that they showed up (to the game) probably through the ticket process and then we will verify their attendance with the College Football Playoff Committee,” Smith said.
Bennett was just as excited as his coach and athletic director about the news.
“I think it is incredible. I think that is going to be so helpful to a lot of families. It shouldn’t have been too much of a debate, I am really happy they came to that conclusion because all families want to do is support their kids,” Bennett said. “I know my parents have been to every single one of my games and that means a lot to me.”
Bennett, his parents and the parents of his teammates will now get set to head to Arlington, Texas, as the Buckeyes and Ducks are set to face off in the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.