The Ohio State University Senate voted overwhelmingly today to endorse a switch to the academic calendar semesters from quarters. I know this was a purely academic decision, but I instantly thought of the possible football-related ramifications.
I am not sure how many other major college football programs operate on the quarter system (I think Oklahoma does) but, in my mind, it definitely provides an advantage.
The incongruity between the football and academic calendars provides some much needed free time in the fall and plenty of extra time in the spring/summer. For starters, the NCAA allows all D-I schools to start practice at the same time in August, since every school plays the same collective season.
So, Ohio State gets to start football along with every other school, but they do not start classes typically until the end of September (September 24 in 2008). That is an entire month when quarterbacks can learn the playbook and reads, when incoming running backs can watch film in order to learn their blocking cues, and cornerbacks can adjust to the speed and size of the receivers at this level.
I cannot help but wonder if the semester set-up has had an appreciable effect on Ohio State's string of recent freshman success. Did it help Pryor adjust so quickly that he would assume the starting position three games in? I don't know, but it couldn't have hurt.
The second advantage I can see is that the players get to stay on campus for approximately an extra month. Ohio State's spring quarter does not end until June 14, 2009, which is at least one month longer than almost any other school.
That is one additional month Terrelle Pryor gets to eat at training and sit in state-of-the-art film rooms. That is 30 more days where he can easily chat with his teammates and coaches.
By contrast, Michigan's second semester ends April 30, 2009, at the latest. While this may not be totally true, I imagine this extra month at Ohio State can be used by the players to workout together, practice drills on their own, and continue to bond before they are forced to go home for the summer. (I know some may stick around but the majority leave to head about to their hometowns). Over four years, a recruiting class would get an extra four months together or roughly an extra season.
Perhaps I am blowing this out of proportion, but in today's game, every little bit helps programs win championships. Will we ever be able to tell this decision's effect on the performance of the football team? Highly unlikely.
Should the university have considered this impact when making the decision? Nope. Will I wonder about this decision if the Buckeyes lose to California early in the 2012 season? Yep.