ODU Athletics

Minium: Buffalo Agrees to Play Twice at ODU

December 12, 2018
By ODU Athletics

By Harry Minium

Old Dominion senior associate athletic director Bruce Stewart pulled off something of a scheduling coup recently.

When the University of Buffalo called to ask that ODU’s game with the Bulls scheduled for upstate New York in 2020 be moved to a future season, he said yes.

But only on the condition that Buffalo play that game at ODU instead.

The deal was a little more complicated than that, because it included moving games around for ODU’s benefit, too.

But the bottom line is that it was worth going on the road twice for Buffalo because it allowed the Bulls to schedule a game at Ohio State that will pay a $1.8 million guarantee.

That means Buffalo will play at ODU in 2021 and 2023 with no return game to UB Stadium.

“It worked for them, and it worked for us,” Stewart said.

ODU senior associate athletic director Bruce Stewart. 

Although it’s difficult to project how any team will look in three seasons, Buffalo looks like an imposing opponent for ODU. The Bulls are 10-2 after beating Temple and Rutgers and losing to Northern Illinois by a point in the Mid-American championship game.

Buffalo will meet Troy in the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile, Ala. on Dec. 22.

ODU’s future schedules are generally booked up for the next few seasons, but we’ve finally got a place for you to see them online.

Click here to see ODU's future schedules.

We will update this schedule as changes are made, although Stewart and athletic director Wood Selig said no deals are impending.

ODU’s schedule is full next season, including the first game in the renovated S.B. Ballard Stadium on Aug. 31 against Norfolk State. ODU also plays at Virginia Tech on Sept. 7, at Virginia on Sept. 21 and hosts East Carolina on Sept. 28.

Combined with road games against FIU, Middle Tennessee and Marshall, which all defeated ODU this season, and a road game against defending league champion UAB, the 2019 schedule looks like the most difficult in school history.

Conference USA announced Wednesday that ODU will play West division foes UAB and Texas-San Antonio the next two seasons. UTSA comes to Norfolk in 2019, and the sites are reversed in 2020.

Although ODU joined Conference USA in 2013 and began playing a full conference football schedule in 2014, the Monarchs and UAB have never met. The Birmingham school dropped football after 2014. But because of intense pressure from alumni and students, and a successful fundraising effort, UAB began playing football again in 2017, garnering a bowl bid in its first season back.

The Blazers (10-3) upended Middle Tennessee, 27-25, in the C-USA championship game and meet MAC champion Northern Illinois in the Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 18. 

The schedule gets even more difficult in 2020, when the Monarchs host Wake Forest and Virginia and play at North Carolina. ODU likely will fill a home date in 2020 against an FCS opponent.

In 2021, ODU is at Wake Forest and Liberty and hosts Buffalo and in 2022, hosts Virginia Tech and Liberty and plays at U.Va.

Selig said that given the changing dynamics of athletic finances, ODU is looking to schedule more “guarantee” games in the future.

Because C-USA TV contracts aren't as lucrative as they were a few years ago, and because of rising costs, including paying the full cost of attendance, ODU now has no choice but to play a guarantee game every season or two. All 14 C-USA schools play guarantee games, although Marshall hasn't played one in nearly a decade.

A guarantee game means an agreement in which a team goes on the road to play a game, and instead of receiving a home game in return, instead takes a check.

ODU has played two guarantee games: in 2014 against Vanderbilt, in return for $1 million, and in 2016 at N.C. State, for which ODU received an $800,000 check.

“We want to play as few guarantee games as we can, but the bottom line is that we need some in the future to help propel ourselves forward financially,” Selig said.

ODU athletic director Wood Selig

Curiously, ODU played a guarantee game at Liberty this past season, for which the Monarchs received a $1.32 million check. Liberty was in its first season as an FBS team, and desperately needed a home game.

ODU’s games at U.Va. and Tech next season aren’t quite guarantee games – they are part of deals struck to play two games on the road and one at home.

ODU receives $400,000 from U.Va. and $375,000 from Virginia Tech.

Selig said that he’d like to schedule games down the road with much bigger paychecks. Florida Atlantic received $1.2 million for opening at Wisconsin and Appalachian State received the same for playing (and nearly upsetting) Penn State.

USA Today reported in August that Power 5 schools are signing contracts for guarantee games at $2 million.

“We’re looking for something between $1.5 million and $2 million,” Selig said. “But we’re going to make sure that we don’t over schedule, and that's a fine line.”

ODU will play at least six home games every season, meaning that for each guarantee game the Monarchs play on the road, they likely will pay to bring an FCS team to Norfolk.

ODU opens next season essentially at a new S.B. Ballard Stadium. The stadium is undergoing a $67.5 million renovation that will replace the east and west stands with more comfortable seating and much improved amenities. In addition, the Priority Automotive Club will host about 400 well-heeled alumni and there will be a new press box on the west side.

Demolition of the old Foreman Field was completed in the last two weeks of November. S.B. Ballard Construction is now driving 670 piles into the ground and shortly after Christmas, will begin pouring the foundation for the new stadium. 

Contact Minium: hminium@odu.edu

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